There are a lot of Valentine's Day treats out there that seem targeted towards kids - they are very cute, very sugary and mostly pink and red heart-shaped. I wanted to make a treat for Mike and my adult friends that they would love... not just say - oh, how cute.
I had flashback to a Christmas gift my parents received a few years ago - soft caramel poured over pecans, topped with chocolate. After a little online research, I found some similar recipe efforts that looked and sounded simple enough.
Homemade candy always seems like a huge hassle, but... after 30 minutes (I didn't even need to go to the store...) I was gobbling up these heavenly little turtle puddles. In fact, I had to make a second batch to use for my dinner party because the originals were already gone! That's when you know it's a keeper...
3 cups pecans
2 sticks of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon of sea salt
4 - 4 oz. bars of milk chocolate1 teaspoon of light corn syrup
Course Sea Salt
To make the caramel, melt butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. Add brown sugar, light corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk to the pan. Cook on medium high and stir until it reaches the soft-ball stage (see my note below about using ice water to test it - very easy!).
Remove from heat and add vanilla and sea salt.
In the meantime, toast the pecans in a dry saute pan for 1-2 minutes to bring out their best flavor.
Arrange the pecans into groups of three on a greased cookie sheet. Pour caramel over each cluster.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler then stir in corn syrup to make it shiny. Do not over heat the chocolate!
Dollop the chocolate onto the top. Let cool slightly, then sprinkle on sea salt. Store uncovered.
It starts with making a soft, but set-up-able, caramel using melted butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup. Of course, I added really good vanilla and sea salt at the end.
Here is the butter melting.
Brown sugar stirred in.
All of the ingredients are in, now just about 8 minutes of boiling to get to the soft, but set-up-able, non-liquid stage. The best way to do this is to have a bowl of ice water by the stove, then as it is cooking, drop in a small amount of the caramel into the water. If it has cooked long enough, the caramel will set up into a soft little ball that you can squish between your fingers. Don't let it cook too long, or it will harden, like... hard candy, instead of chewy candy. You want it to be soft enough to pour, but hard enough not to run all over the place.
When you reach the right consistency, remove it from the heat.
Toast the pecans in a dry skillet for just a minute or two.
Pile the pecans in threes on a greased cookie sheet or on a silpat, like this one.
Pour the caramel sauce into a measuring cup.
Pour caramel over each pecan pile.
Let it set up slightly.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler (glass bowl sitting over a pot of simmering water). I used milk chocolate because it is my favorite - but you can use dark chocolate if you are one of "those" people. I have no shame for my milk chocolate love... even if I am not as "sophisticated" as those dark chocolate lovers.
Dollop the chocolate with a spoon on top of each caramel. You don't have to be neat or fancy with it - the more rustic the better!
The finishing touch is a sprinkling of sea salt on top... but wait a little bit for the chocolate to cool, or the salt will melt. As you will see from my first try...
See the salt has started to melt a little - it sill tastes great, but you loose some of the crunch from the salt.
Here the are on a platter - a great grown-up treat. Oh, they are sooooo good!