February 17, 2008

Christmas Packages Part 2 (in Lent, no less)

I had originally envisioned at least three different posts about Christmas treats, but since I've been negligent, I'm going to wrap it up with this post. In the interim I have been cooking and I hope that I'll stay on task for at least the next few weeks.

My Christmas packages were a mix of candies and cookies, so today I'm going to share my turtle recipe. This is an adaptation of my mother's recipe for turtles. In fact, my mother came up and stayed with me a few days after my knee surgery to help me get around and while she was there she helped me make the turtles that I gave out (the pictured ones are from my first batch).

The turtles start with small piles of pecans, then you pour hot caramel over them, followed by a drizzle or brushing of dark chocolate. The most important non-cooking aspect of this recipe is humidity - if it's very humid you're likely to end up with Southern pralines and not caramel. Also, take care not to stir the caramel too much after taking it off the heat and work quickly to minimize the chance of crystallization.

I buy my cream from a local dairy that produces exceptionally rich Jersey cream. If you're buying a mass market product you'll probably want to add 2 tbs of butter to the recipe to increase the butterfat content.

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup pecan (whole look better, but smaller pieces are easier to work with and eat)
3 ounces melted dark chocolate (I used 60%)

Special Equipment:
Heavy pot (at least three quart), preferably enameled cast iron
Candy thermometer

Pour cream into the pan and set on medium heat. Pour sugar slowly into center of the cream (so as not to get any crystals on the sides of the pan). Add the salt. Put the lid on the pan and let come to a boil.

Remove the lid, insert thermometer and cook mixture, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 250F.

While the caramel is getting up to temperature lay out sheets of parchment paper, and form little mounds of pecans, if using pieces about 1 tbs, or if using whole pecans about three pecans each.

After getting up to temperature remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Working as quickly as possible, pour about 2 tsp to 1 tbs of caramel on each mound and allow to set up. Drizzle or brush melted dark chocolate over the top of each mound. If you're a particular fan of sea salt caramel you could also drop of few course flakes of salt on the still soft chocolate.

Place turtles in an airtight container and eat within a few days.


Aileen said...

Oh, I made something like these for a Christmas party last year. I had hemmed and hawed over it for awhile, hooked by the pictures but perhaps reluctant to start what I had so incorrectly assumed would be a complicated ordeal. They turned out to be so easy to prepare, and so overwhelmingly popular to eat. I shall print out this blog entry, and make sure that I don't labor under any such incorrect notions next Christmas!

Schweitz said...

Aileen good luck with the recipe. The nice things about many candies is that even if they don't turn out just right - they're still edible.