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.
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.