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Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice (and a grown-up version!)

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We recently asked what your favorite morning beverage is. Well, here is my husband’s. He HATES coffee. Sometimes I will buy a new flavored variety and I will be convinced that with just the right amount of cream and sugar, he’ll love it. But I’m always wrong. He’s usually a good sport and will at least take a sip, and then he’ll make a face like I just made him drink battery acid. Because of this, our trips to Starbucks are usually just for me and my non-fat Salted Caramel Mocha (or this time of year, a Gingerbread Latte) with whip. Yes, I know the whip sort of negates the non-fat milk, but I just don’t care; it’s so good!

These “just-for-me” trips changed when he discovered the Caramel Apple Spice. Steaming, cinnamon-flavored apple juice, topped with cool whipped cream and a smooth caramel drizzle — even I would consider cheating on my mocha! Lucky for us, a former barista shared the recipe for these really simple drinks, so I can selfishly keep Starbucks runs all to myself. I made one minor adjustment (swapping apple juice for apple cider) and it turned out really well — just ask my husband. He’s not biased at all.

Here is the Caramel Apple Spice…but don’t drink it just yet. Now, if you have any dairy issues (or just don’t like whipped cream) this is how your drink will look, and it will still be delicious. But if you’re like me, you want it gussied up a bit. Yes, gussied.

Caramel Apple Spice

{Slightly modified from A Law Student’s Journey}

Serves 1

12 oz. (or a regular size mug almost full) apple cider
3 pumps (or 1 tablespoon) cinnamon dolce syrup*
Whipped Cream
Caramel to drizzle

Pour your apple cider into your favorite microwave-safe mug, and add the tablespoon of cinnamon dolce syrup. Stir to combine. Place it in the microwave and heat to your desired temperature — I usually do about one minute and 30 seconds for a nice hot drink. Carefully remove your cider from the microwave and spray on whipped cream in a circular pattern. Go crazy here if you’d like — the more the merrier. Then, just drizzle on the caramel sauce — I like to use Smucker’s Sundae Syrup because the squeeze bottle makes it really easy and virtually mess-free. I say virtually because I can always find a way to make a mess in a kitchen. If you want to go super-gussy, sprinkle a little cinnamon on top!

*I was able to buy Cinnamon Dolce syrup (regular AND sugar-free) on Starbucks’ website (it was also available on Amazon) very recently. It looks like it has since been discontinued, but have no fear! You (and your picky counterparts) can still enjoy this treat, because I found a fantastic recipe for homemade cinnamon dolce syrup online. I jacked up the cinnamon content just a bit since we’re big cinnamon fans in this house.  We did a side-by-side comparison (poor Nick, right?) and found that we actually preferred the homemade version — to me, it was slightly less artificial tasting. Not that there is anything wrong with the one I got from Starbucks — I could still probably drink that out of a cup, straight up. There’s just something nice (and inexpensive) about four simple ingredients that you can put together yourself.

Homemade Cinnamon Dolce Syrup (Slightly modified from Mary Ellen at Whisked Together)

1 cup water
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

This is a simple syrup that is made with brown sugar instead of white sugar. Add 1 cup water and 1 cup brown sugar to a small saucepan. Stir in 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Bring to a rolling boil and then let it simmer until is starts to thicken just a bit — about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and stir. Cool and store in the fridge in an air-tight container (I like to use mason jars).

Now, this drink is great for all ages.  But, if you’re sitting at home, watching TV and you look over at your bar cart and think “That Caramel Apple thing would be great with some bourbon in it!” then you would be my husband.  And I would make it for you. And it would be DELICIOUS!  So if you want to turn this into a hot toddy, I recommend the following:

11 ounces apple cider
1 tablespoon cinnamon dolce syrup
1 1/2 ounces Kentucky bourbon
Whipped cream
Caramel to drizzle

Follow the same process as you did with the G-rated version, but after you pull the cinnamon cider out of the microwave, pour in the bourbon and stir.  Then add your whipped cream and caramel and cozy in!

Happy sipping!


One thought on “Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice (and a grown-up version!)

  1. Pingback: Dueling Dishes: Peanut Butter Tart w/ Dark Chocolate Bourbon Ganache « 5-to-9 Foodies

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