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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Turtles

The most serendipitous thing happened while I was making these turtles. When I've made turtles before, I was disappointed with the caramel because it was always too soft. So when making them this time, I searched out a recipe that I thought would give me something a little more firm. I decided on the "Caramels" recipe in my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. I figured if it made something that could be cut and wrapped in individual wrappers, it could certainly stand up to holding together some pecans and chocolate.

Well, I'm not sure if I screwed up or what, but the result was not good. Maybe my candy thermometer is off. I followed the recipe to a T and that caramel came out hard as a rock. Literally. I broke it in to pieces with a hammer. I was a little miffed and didn't really feel like making a new batch of caramel. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I thought I would try to salvage my disaster.

I broke off a handful of pieces and put them in a sauce pan. I turned the heat on medium low and let it slowly melt. Once it was fluid again, I added a dollop of heavy cream to thin it out a little bit. I then put a little sample in the refrigerator and let it set for five minutes. It came out just how I wanted it. It was soft and chewy but firm enough to not move around on its own. The great thing about this is that I now have a bunch of rock hard caramel in my pantry that is ready to use at the drop of a hat. It will keep forever, I imagine (it's like storing lollipops at this point). I kind of like that.

All right. So the turtles. They're pretty simple. The caramel is the tricky part and I've got that licked now. I'm a bit of an untraditional turtle maker, however. I prefer every bite of my turtle to be an even mixture of chocolate, caramel, and pecans. Therefore, my turtles have no legs or head or tail. I mold them in small 3 1/4 oz. plastic ramekins. I drop lightly toasted pecans in the bottom, pour a generous dollop of caramel in, and then top with tempered chocolate.

Once they are cool, they pop right out of the little dishes and they nestle perfectly in a standard sized muffin cup paper. I also like to make baby turtles where I lay two pecans side by side on a parchment lined tray and then follow the same procedure. I like being able to pop the whole thing in my mouth all at once.


Caramel for Candies

1 cup butter
2 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups light cream
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla

heavy whipping cream

Prepare a 8x8x2ish sized pan by lining with foil and spraying with cooking spray. Put butter, sugar, cream, and corn syrup in a heavy 3 quart sauce pan outfitted with a candy thermometer. Cook over medium-high heat until candy thermometer hits 248 degrees F. Note that since I'm not really 100% sure why my batch went awry, you may want to test your caramel by dropping a bit in a glass of water to be sure it will set up hard when cool. If it doesn't, let it go a few more degrees. It took my mixture approximately 30 minutes to reach this point. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and immediately pour into prepared pan. Let cool completely.

When caramel is cooled, remove from pan and peel off aluminum foil. Break into pieces either by dropping on the counter or tapping with a meat mallet. Store in an air tight container at room temperature until ready to make candy.

When ready to make candy, slowly melt desired amount of hard caramel over low heat. Once it is fluid, stir in heavy whipping cream until it is the consistency you are looking for. Check for how the caramel will behave when cooled by putting a small bit in the refrigerator for five minutes. Add more cream or hard caramel to adjust. Use immediately.

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