Once you’ve made some Spiced Apple Cider, or if you simply happen to have a bottle of storebought cider in the back of the fridge, it is a snap to make one of my favorite wintertime drinks, Caramel Apple Cider. I was first turned onto this drink on a visit to Starbucks, where it is generally available year-round but is often featured on the menu boards during the winter. The drink seems to retain heat much better than just about anything else, so not only does it taste great, but it keeps your hands warm when it is snowy outside!
The Starbucks version of this drink is made by steaming apple cider until it is very hot, then adding caramel and whipped cream. I start mine with homemade cider and heat it up in a saucepan if I am going to be serving a crowd and in a mug in the microwave if I’m only serving myself. Once the cider is steaming hot, stir in about 1 1/2 tbsp caramel sauce, then add whipped cream and another drizzle of caramel. Use any kind of caramel for this drink, whether it’s homemade sauce or your favorite topping brand – I’ve even melted solid caramels into it in a pinch and it turned out very well. I often add a very small pinch of salt to the caramel on top for that salted caramel effect, too.
The sweetness of the caramel highlights the sweetness of the apples in the cider, while the whipped cream on top is a nice, cool contrast to the steamy beverage below. And the caramel on top? Why, that’s just an excuse to eat even more caramel. As though I needed one.
Caramel Apple Cider
12-oz plain or Spiced Apple Cider
1 1/2 tbsp caramel sauce
whipped cream, for topping
additional caramel sauce, for topping
small pinch salt (optional)
Heat cider on the stovetop or in the microwave until it is steaming. Pour into a large mug. Stir in caramel sauce.
Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream and a drizzle of additional caramel sauce. If desired, add a small pinch of salt to the caramel on top.