April 14th is National Pecan Day.
In just 90 minutes, you can make these Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Pecan Turtles, a candy that originated in 1916 (the history is below).
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Ingredients For 24 Turtles
1. TOAST the pecans. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast them for 6 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
2. LINE two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper with nonstick spray. Arrange the toasted pecans on the prepared sheets in star-shaped groups of 5 (one “head,” four “feet”. Set aside until needed.
3. MAKE the caramel. Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the granulated sugar, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 235°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and vigorously whisk the mixture for 30 seconds. Set aside for 5 minutes (it’s best to set a timer). After five minutes…
4. USING a medium cookie scoop, spoon level mounds of the caramel over each nut cluster, aiming to drop it in the center of the cluster. Set aside while you melt the chocolate.
5. CREATE a double boiler. Fill a medium pot 1/3 full with water and bring it to a low simmer over medium heat. Get a heatproof bowl that will fit snugly on top of the pan, but will not touch the simmering water.
6. REDUCE the heat to low and add the chopped chocolate into the heatproof bowl. Heat until the chocolate is completely melted, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula. Once the chocolate is completely melted, stir the mixture smooth; then carefully remove the bowl from the heat.
7. SPOON about 1 tablespoon of the melted chocolate over each caramel pecan cluster, again aiming to drop it into the center of the cluster. Set aside, at room temperature, until the chocolate has set, about 1 hour. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 1 week.
No doubt, there were combinations of chocolate, pecans and caramel before the invention of Turtles.
But it was in 1916 in Chicago that confectioner George DeMet created the Turtle.
Back then, peanuts were the nut of choice in most candies. So when DeMet made a round chocolate-caramel patty and used pecan halves to make the head and feet, it was a double innovation (turtle shape, pecan nuts).
The name Turtle was later copyrighted by the company.
While the original turtle prevailed for years, these days confectioners create more flavor varieties than DeMet could have imagined.
Today you can find almond, cashew, hazelnut, milk chocolate, white chocolate and sea salt caramel. If you can’t find what you want, use the recipe above as a template to create your own.
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