The Pantry: Turtles

UPDATED WITH PICTURES!

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My favorite candy of all time is Turtles.  Gooey, creamy, chocolaty, smooth, divine.  Honestly, I don’t think that there are enough adjectives to describe just how decadently rich these things are.

In truth, if you want to buy them, you almost have to be decadently rich.  They cost a fortune if you pick them up ready-made.

Fortunately for us, I know how to make the little guys.

You don’t need any special equipment (double boiler–bah) and the small ingredient list yields around 40 pieces, if not more.  Don’t be put off by the lengthy instructions, and try not to eat them all yourself.

*A NOTE:  This picture is from a batch that I made earlier this summer.  When I make these again this month, I will take photos of each step and upload them to this page for you.  Until then, I hope you can envision what I’m talking about.—-UPDATED:  I’ve made these for Thanksgiving, and the pictures are now up!

Turtles

Ingredients:

1 bag (11 oz) caramel bits or (14 oz) squares–I like the bits b/c they melt more quickly

1 tbsp cream

1 bag (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips–mini chips melt faster

1/2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted

Materials:

2 medium saucepans

2 heat proof bowls (large enough to fit over the sauce pans)

2 strips of aluminum foil

2 soup spoons (teaspoon will do)

3 cookie sheets covered in waxed paper

cooking spray

counter space next to the stove (trust me)

Directions:

Preparing the Chocolate & Caramel:

1.  Put about 2-3 inches of water in each saucepan, and place the saucepans on the front two burners of your stove (easy to reach there) over low heat. Bring the water to a simmer.

2.  I don’t know if this step is necessary, but I do it and it works for me.  Take the strips of aluminum foil and fold them up,

draping each one over the back side of the pots (the part away from you).

Then set the heat proof bowls on top of the pans with the simmering water.

The aluminum foil helps create a vent for the steam to escape.

Like I said, I don’t know that this step is necessary, but it makes me feel better, and it’s never affected the chocolate for me.

3.  Pour the chocolate chips into one of the bowls.

Drop the butter pieces randomly over the chocolate.

Pour the caramel bits or unwrapped candies into the other bowl,

and drizzle the cream over the caramel.

Allow both time to melt, stirring as needed to incorporate the butter and cream.

As you can see, the chocolate melts much more quickly than the caramel.

The caramel tends to look lumpy for some time before taking on a creamy texture.

I use cooking spray to coat the spoon that I use to stir my caramel.

DO NOT under ANY circumstances –I don’t care HOW tempting it is– try to lick the spoon after dipping it into the hot caramel.  You will burn yourself silly.

Assembling the Turtles:

The following parts require you to work quickly, and you should keep the chocolate and the caramel in their bowls over the heat while you work–it helps keep the chocolate and caramel in a liquid state, which you need.  I have never had to replace the water, but do so if you need to, just don’t remove them from the heat.

1.  For the turtle’s bottom shell:

Once the chocolate has melted, drop about 1/2 of a teaspoonful of chocolate in a vertical row on the waxed paper covered cookie sheet.

Only do ONE row. I do four dollops about 2 1/2 inches or so apart straight down.

 

2.  For the turtle’s body:

Arrange the pecan halves on top of the chocolate.  Each turtle gets three pecan halves– two longish ones for the legs and one short one for the head.  The should form a sort of star, with the ends of the pecan touching in the middle.

Like this (please forgive my horrible art– I’m completely out of pecans right now):

EDIT: Now I have pecans!   Note, I’m leaving the art because it turns out that I think it’s kind of cute in a kindergarten  sort of way. So anyway, this is what they look like.

Repeat steps one and two for the remainder of the cookie sheet.  Fit as many as you can onto the sheet.  I’m usually able to get about 16-20 on a sheet, depending on the size of the pecans.

3.  For the Turtle’s “Muscle”:

Once the caramel is melted and the turtles bottoms shells and bodies have been assembled, you’re going to drop approximately 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of caramel on top of the center of each turtle– where the points meet in the middle.

This part is really just a matter of taste.  I find that 1/2 teaspoon is sufficient, especially since the caramel spreads out as it cools.

4.  For the Turtle’s Upper Shell:

Drop 3/4 teaspoonfuls of melted chocolate over the top of each dollop of caramel.   It doesn’t have to be perfect.  In fact, I think it’s prettier when it’s not perfect.

5. Finishing Up:

Repeat these processes until you run out of either ingredients or cookie sheets.  Place the candies in the refrigerator to cool.  I keep mine there until I’m ready to give them away, but you have to remember, I live in the South where it’s usually 80 degrees in the fall.   If I don’t keep them in the ‘fridge, they’ll melt everywhere.

I can usually get a bit more that 40 out of a batch. After that  I don’t have quite enough of one ingredient or the other to go on.  The nice thing is that you can take any leftover caramel, pecans, or chocolate, mix them up and spread them into a small cooking spray coated dish (I have a little 1 lb Pyrex dish that I use for fudge), refrigerate and then cut into pieces.  Tastes great.

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