Weather: -27 degrees
What I’m listening to: Handel’s Messiah
First things first, don’t miss our Cuisinart 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker with Hot Water System Christmas Giveaway. You have until Wednesday, December 19 to enter to win. I am also still running the Kettle Brand Chips $100 Visa Card Giveaway as well through the end of December. I love getting the opportunity to give gifts to my readers.
Second, Alaska from Scratch reached a huge milestone over the weekend in all-time pageviews – 1,000,000+!!! One. Million. I’m just completely overwhelmed. That, in itself, is quite a marvelous Christmas gift. So, thank you for being here. Thank you for reading… and listening… and making my food in your kitchens. To celebrate, it’s time for some chocolate!
I first saw this concept on Pinterest. I thought these pretty little turtles were very clever would make perfect holiday food gifts. I couldn’t wait to try them out. But, I tweaked them in a few ways that I think make them even better. My first thought was that they needed to be dark chocolate (the original were in milk chocolate). If you prefer milk chocolate, by all means, make them milk chocolate. They will still be amazing.
Then, I was quite certain these babies would be improved with just a little bit of sea salt on top. Yes, indeed. Finally, I substituted honey in the caramel in place of corn syrup for that final special touch. Oh my my my.
Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel Pecan Turtles
Adapted from [Jamie Cooks It Up|http://jamiecooksitup.net/2012/12/chocolate-caramel-and-pecan-turtle-clusters/]
Yields: About 40 candies
- 2-1/2c pecans
- For the Caramel:
- 1/2c butter
- 1c brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/4c honey
- 7oz sweetened condensed milk (half of a can)
- 1/2t vanilla
- For the Chocolate:
- 12oz semisweet chocolate chips
- 1t shortening
- fine sea salt
Spray a large frying pan or skillet with non-stick spray. Over medium heat, toast the pecans, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 4-5 minutes, being careful not to burn the nuts.
Prepare two large baking sheets with parchment paper and spray the paper with non-stick spray. Place the pecans in clusters of three on the parchment paper, leaving an inch or so of space between each cluster. I found placing two pecans side-by-side and then one on top laying across the other two worked well and looked most like a "turtle."
In a heavy-bottomed pot (I used my enameled Dutch oven) over medium heat, melt the butter together with the brown sugar, salt, honey, and sweetened condensed milk. When the mixture is smooth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring continually with a heat-proof spoon, until the mixture reaches 234 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Using a teaspoon, carefully spoon some of the hot caramel over each cluster of pecans (about 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of caramel on each). The caramel will begin to set up as it cools - if it gets too firm before you are done putting caramel on your clusters, just return it to the heat briefly to loosen it back up.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and shortening together in 30 second increments, stirring between each go, until smooth. In the same manner as the caramel, spoon the melted chocolate over the clusters, making a swirl in the top of the chocolate with the back of the spoon. Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle each cluster with fine sea salt. Allow the turtles to cool completely and set up (they can be refrigerated to help them set up quickly). Remove from the parchment paper and store in airtight containers at room temperature or in the refrigerator.