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February 04, 2013

Homemade Pecan, Salted Caramel & Chocolate Turtle Puddles | Grown-Up Valentines

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...

Salted-Caramel Pecan
Turtle Puddles

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 chocolate
1 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!   

Here is the easy-to-pin strip!


  1. Anonymous4:04 PM

    Mm, looks decadent!

  2. OMG these look amazing! Chocolate + Caramel is my absolute FAVORITE! And I totally laughed out loud when I read how you used milk chocolate and wrote about "those" people. I totally think dark chocolate people are crazy- milk is SOOO much better! Milk chocolate lovers unite!

  3. jenny ~ these look down right wicked. such a perfect combination! even though i am one of 'those" dark chooclate loving peeps. actually, i like chocolate in all varieties. maybe a bit too much. thanks for sharing and feeding my addiction!

  4. Sharon12:09 PM

    Does the caramel stay soft or does it get a bit brittle (ala praline-like)? My husband loves handformed candies like this - used to special order from a shop in Lexington, VA but if I could make them for him for Valentines, he would be so happy.

    1. Jenny2:20 PM

      Sharon - this caramel stays soft. BUT, if you want it to harden, you can cook the caramel longer.

    2. Sharon10:44 AM

      Thanks so much for your reply. I am going to try these out this weekend.

  5. Hi Jenny--Just wanted to leave a comment this time--I need to more often:) Your blog is beautiful!! Just wanted you to know that I enjoy dropping by.

  6. Your recipes are incredible. I have already tried the cinnamon rolls. So tender and delicious. Thanks for sharing.Olympia

  7. OMG! I could never ever make these, there would literally be none left for anyone else. I render myself helpless when it comes to chocolate, then add nuts and caramel..its totally hopeless. Looks soooooo good!

  8. Wonderful stuff. I'm afraid I got carried away with the salt; just loved the look of it - good thing hubby salts everything heavily!!

  9. Hi Jenny, love our blog- I follow it regularly. Do you think that this will work with chocolate chips? Thanks!

    1. Jenny Hobick12:49 PM

      I tried using milk chocolate chips with no luck - they did not melt nicely... semi sweet might work?


  10. Jenny- Should i leave them sitting out over night or put them in a container in the refrigerator? I plan to put them in cute bags for Valentines Day!

  11. Anonymous12:03 PM

    I would like to make these for a favor for a bridal shower. Can I make them ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate?
    Do you think if I made them with white chocolate for those who don't like chocolate, (my daughter-the only person I know), or can I make them larger? I didn't notice if you mentioned how many your recipe makes. I will go back and check. Thanks for the recipe and for answering my questions.

  12. I have tried this recipe but used little mounds of toasted chopped pecans. They taste just as great

  13. I just made these, after a recipe for caramel in turtle bark did not turn out. These are wonderful! The caramel was very easy, and is tasty and just the right softness. Thanks for a great recipe!


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