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Fresh-from-the-orchard apple cider is the base for this easy jelly recipe. Drawing inspiration from my favorite apple desserts, I threw a few warming spices into the pot and swapped some of the white sugar for dark brown. The results taste exactly like caramel apples.
Making jelly can be a complicated, multi-step procedure. Usually, you must first extract the juice from the fruit by boiling it down and filtering it through a special jelly bag. But by using fresh apple cider you can skip all of that. Instead, it's a simple process of simmering the cider with sugar, spices, and powdered pectin, which ensures a good set.
Because apple cider is unfiltered, this jelly looks a bit cloudy in the jar—much like a glass of apple cider. The intense, tangy apple flavor is complemented by a luxurious, molasses note from the brown sugar. I used cinnamon sticks, cloves, and lemon zest, but any toasty, fall-friendly spices would be delicious. Experiment with whole allspice berries, star anise, cardamom pods, or slices of fresh ginger.
This recipe can be prepared and preserved from start to finish in about an hour. The jelly would be a delicious accompaniment to buttery breads like challah or brioche, or try it with ginger or pumpkin bread.
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About the Author: Lucy Baker is a food writer and the author of The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets. She is currently at work on a second book about homemade food gifts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dachshund.
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