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Determined to make a self contained turtle candy for my wife, I first made these pecan maple caramels in 2006 and they actually competed with my English Toffee for favorite candy that I make. Caramels are actually pretty easy to make, and dipping these caramels in chocolate will yield about 100 self-contained pecan caramel turtles. The maple syrup in this recipe is subtle. After the repeated failures making maple pecan caramels I was happy just to have any maple flavor. You can omit the maple syrup without need to change the recipe—I made this recipe twice, adding the maple syrup only on the second batch.

Recipe:

3 cups chopped, toasted pecans
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Some Safflower oil.

Oil a silicone baking pan or foil lined baking dish.
Using safflower oil and a paper towel, generously oil a 9x13 baking dish lined with foil. Don't skimp, trust me. I've had good luck with the silicone baking pans and highly recommend them (but still oil them).

Chop the pecans into morsel sized chunks.
Using a chef's knife, chop the pecans on a cutting board until they are the size of chocolate morsels. You can use a food processor, but since you are only coarsely chopping the pecans it isn't necessary and produces pecan dust which you don't need and would have to sift out.

Combine sugars, corn and maple syrups, cream and butter and bring to boil.
Combine the sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, cream and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until it comes to a boil. Wash down sides several times with water using a pastry brush.

Once boiling, increase heat to medium high and stir constantly until it reaches target temperature.
With the heat increased to medium high, stir the mixture continuously until it reaches 239° F (114°) for dipping or else 240° F (115° C) for wrapping..

Remove from heat and add salt and vanilla. Then add pecans and stir.
After removing the caramel from heat, add the salt and vanilla and stir until blended. Add the pecans and give another stir to thoroughly mix.

Pour into oiled or silpat lined baking dish. Let sit overnight wrapped tightly.
Pour mixture into prepared baking pan. Cover well and let cool overnight. Once you are ready to dip or wrap, peel the foil off the caramel. This can be a major pain, particularly for gooier caramels (dipping), but I recently found that shoving a silpat sheet into a baking pan solves the problem. Oil a large plastic cutting board and place the caramel slab there. Slice into pieces and wrap or dip.

Dip or wrap as desired.
I typically prefer to make my dipped caramels more gooey than the wrapped caramels, but note that softer caramels are more difficult to work with and dip. Even firm caramels will succumb to gravity and sag after a few minutes, but he pecans in these caramels seem to delay sagging a bit. When dipping, slice only as much as you need from the main block to maintain rectangular shapes.

Gallery:
Click any image below to enlarge
  1. Comment from Mallory 
    6:38 PM   10-Aug-2007
    OK, I found the recipe I mentioned wanting in my earlier post. I am going to try this recipe and see how it turns out. Wish me luck!
  1. Comment from Jennifer 
    5:03 PM   19-Feb-2008
    Looks like a good recipe... the only thing I see that is missing is where the cream goes in. I see for the pictures that it goes in with the sugars but it is missed in the step-by-step directions. I will give it a try. Thanks.
    1. Response from Brian
      8:09 PM   09-Jul-2008
      Hi Jennifer, the cream is mentioned in the bold heading in the instructions. I will add it in the paragraph!
  1. Comment from Jennifer 
    8:04 AM   20-Feb-2008
    I made your receipe. Tasty but I cook to 246 F and it came out like a jaw breaker. Bummer...
    1. Response from Brian
      8:09 PM   09-Jul-2008
      Hi Jennifer, double check your thermometer. I've found wild variances in thermometers, particularly with some digital thermometers.
  1. Comment from Shelly 
    1:42 PM   01-Sep-2008
    Is it easier to cook longer for wrapping, but actually dip? What kind of chocolate are they dipped in?
    1. Response from Brian
         
      Harder caramels are easier to wrap than super gooey caramels. Longer cooking is typically synonymous with higher temperatures and, therefore, a harder caramel. Caramels that are too hard (think See's candies lollipop) should not be dipped in chocolate since you won't be able to bite into them and the chocolate will just make a mess on your face while trying to do so. You can dip the caramels in whatever chocolate you prefer. Just be sure to temper the chocolate or they may not look so great once the chocolate hardens. Best of luck!
  1. Comment from Laura 
    8:55 AM   25-Jan-2010
    Ugh, I had the same problem as Jennifer. Cooked to 246 degrees - and I even tested the accuracy of my thermometer with boiling water before doing the caramels - and they came out as Werthers Originals. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong (this happened before too with a totally different recipe).
    1. Response from Brian
      8:20 PM   02-Feb-2010
      Hmm, too hard. You know, I'm going to alter the F temps on this recipe to match the C temps. The F temps are from the original recipe but my thermometer is C and I have obviously tuned the temperature for C down to 242 F for wrapping. Ugg.
  1. 7:22 PM   08-Aug-2010
    I am definitely going to make this one during the holidays this year. it looks SO good and I absolutely love maple caramels! The pictures make it look more manageable too. Thanks!
    1. Response from Brian
      6:34 PM   04-Oct-2010
      Let me know how it turns out!
  1. Comment from Elizabeth Costlow 
    1:19 PM   12-Dec-2010
    I made regular vanilla caramels from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook today, and it said to cook only to 242 degrees (medium-stage) rather than the 245 (hard-ball stage). My pre-test for the thermometer was a perfect 212 degrees, and my first attempt at caramels was a great success--soft and chewy. After reading your comments, I'll make sure to take the maple caramels only to 242 degrees. Thanks.
    1. Response from Brian
      2:20 PM   12-Dec-2010
      Yeah, different caramel recipes have subtle differences in final temperature.
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