I’m not really a pumpkin spice latte fan. But I do like big mugs of hot, comforting drinks to sip slowly while watching autumnlight dwindle. And a long-handled stirrer to twirl pensively (I’m an inveterate fiddler). So it suddenly dawned on me last week: why not make an edible stirrer? One that might produce a pumpkin-pie-spiced coffee to my liking?
Autumn is for caramel: that cozy golden hue fits the season perfectly. I’ve been cooking a lot of sugar lately, so I’m surprised I didn’t think of spiced, Halloween-appropriate candy sooner.
These caramels strike a balance between a truly hard lollipop and a softer, chewy caramel – I needed them firm enough to not get limp and sticky on a lollipop stick, but I also needed them soft enough to melt once swirled into hot coffee. To that end, it’s important to cook the caramel to the right temperature; if you stop at a lower temperature, it won’t harden properly. If it’s a hot day (which, if it’s fall, should be less of a concern), you can store them in the refrigerator to ensure they stay firm and take them out shortly before serving. However, if you’re looking for soft caramels, you can certainly cook them to around 250 degrees F, and you’ll get the chewy, gooey kind of caramel that needs to be wrapped in wax paper. If you’re still in need of something sweet to hand out on Halloween, these are wonderfully quick to make.
The husband called them gingerbread caramels, with their spice-and-brown-sugar flavor. If you want to make them more like pumpkin pie, you can add a tablespoon of pumpkin puree into the caramel after you take it off the heat. I love them on their own, or you can swirl them around a hot espresso and get a pleasantly sweet, caramelly, spicy-fragrant drink. I would say one 2-in lollipop will blend nicely into a 8-10 ounce coffee.
Here’s to a sweet and spooky Halloween!
- 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 g) light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (85 g) light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice - 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-in pieces
- Spray lollipop molds lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Place lollipop sticks in the molds.
- Combine sugars, corn syrup, and salt in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches 310°F, hard crack stage. Immediately remove saucepan from heat.
- While sugar is cooking, heat cream, spices, and vanilla in a separate small saucepan just to a boil. Turn heat down to low just to keep cream warm.
- Remove cooking sugar from heat and add cream slowly; be careful as the mixture will boil up vigorously and settle back down.
- Add the butter a few pieces at a time, stirring to fully melt and incorporate.
- Divide the mixture among the prepared molds. Let lollipops cool and harden, about 15 minutes, before removing from the molds.