Christmas Candy Time!

Attention! Attention please!  This recipe is in no way shape or form for the purposes of the Dukan Diet! Unless for a celebration snack.  And really, only  because they’re SO SO good so full of butter and sugar.  Thanksgiving was a good day spent visiting with our family and extended family out in the country.  If you know me or are somebody like my sister (who lives in an actual city) you may say “you already live in the country!”  I will argue that I live in a suburb of a good-sized town and am in the middle.  I’m talking cows on every corner and your nearest neighbor is a few miles away kind of country.  I can walk to the grocery just like you city girls, it is around a two-mile walk but it’s possible!  Ok, ok, so the point is that the family in the beautiful area of rural North Central Florida have pecan trees.  Pecans are in season and the ground is just lousy with them around the trees and that means this recipe (for me at least) was a result of our being very eco-friendly and foraging.  Or being thrifty.  I like foraging better, it sounds greener.  So we foraged for pecans, brought them home and shelled four cups with our brand new nut-cracker.  I had to do something with our bounty because that was maybe 25% of what we foraged. (I foresee  other pecan dishes in our future).  Pecan  Turtle Candies are easy to make and if you forage your pecans like we did, then not very expensive!  Really simple, really tasty, really good for sharing and if you rationalize right, they may be healthy because of the protein in the nuts? Maybe not. Well I think the butter negates the nuts. So then that just leaves sugar…and I don’t think chocolate negates sugar. Enjoy anyway!  Oh and Home Depot does not take any chocolate turtle bribes, its policy.

First, if your pecans are fresh and not roasted then you need to melt a stick of butter for 4 – 5 cups of pecans.  Toss well with the butter and salt to taste and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake at 275°F for about an hour or until they’re browning.  You can stop here and eat the pecans at this point and be quite happy with the results in my opinion. I have a second opinion that supports this idea from our pest-control guy who happened to be doing the outside of our house this morning and got a little cup full to taste.  Or you can move on to the messy part.

Messy Ingredients:

  • 4 cups toasted pecans
  • 18 oz caramel squares – Brach’s brand worked better….more milk in them I think
  • 8 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate chips or baking bars
  • heavy cream (not much)

Once your pecans are toasty and cool, heat up your chocolate and caramels using the double boiler method. To make the actual turtle shaped turtle candies, place four pecan halves in a star shape on a wax paper on a cookie sheet or paper plate. Place a dollop of caramel in the middle, making sure to touch each pecan so they’ll hold together.  Drizzle a dab of chocolate on top of that and sprinkle with pecan crumbles then place in the fridge or freezer to get them to set faster.  *be sure to serve them at room temp for the full effect of crunchy pecan, gooey caramel and sweet chocolate!

If your pecan selection is like mine was, then you may have just as many, if not more, small broken pecans as you do intact halves.  To make candies out of these, it is easy.  Line a cupcake pan with liners (or a mini pan with mini liners) and place a handful on the bottom.  Top with the caramel then chocolate the same as above and cool to set.  With this method is is especially important to make sure your pecans are in a single layer in the bottom of the cup and the caramel touches every piece of pecan.  If not, pecans bits will fall all over trying to eat it.

If you have a LOT of pecans to use then make super pecan candy-cupcakes.  Basically, layer the bottom of the cupcake liner with pecans, cover with caramel, make another layer of pecans and cover with chocolate.  Top with pecan sprinkles and cool in the fridge or freezer to set.

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