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Chocolate caramel turtles with fleur de sel

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December 13, 2006

Makes 80

Caramel requires about 60 to 70 minutes from start to finish. Remember never to touch the boiling sugar mixture.

3/4 pound raw whole pecans
3/4 pound raw whole almonds
3/4 pound raw whole cashews
2 2/3 cups sweetened condensed milk
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut up
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fleur de sel, or to taste
1. Set the oven at 300 degrees. Have on hand a candy thermometer, a regular thermometer, a pastry brush, and 3 baking sheets.

2. Place each kind of the nuts on one of the baking sheets. Transfer to the oven and toast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are fragrant. Leave to cool.

3. In a large bowl, toss the nuts. Return the mixed nuts to 2 of the baking sheets, making one layer.

4. In a medium heavy-based saucepan, combine the milk, granulated and brown sugars, and corn syrup. Set the pan over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugars. Wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in hot water. When the sugar mixture begins to bubble, turn the heat to medium-low. Stir every 3 to 5 minutes until it turns dark amber and a candy thermometer reads 236 degrees. This will take about 1 hour and time will vary with each pot. (If you do not have a candy thermometer, remove a sample of the caramel with a spoon and drop it in a glass of cold water. If it forms into a soft ball, the caramel is done.)

5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Let the mixture cool without stirring for about 5 minutes.

6. Spoon a dollop of caramel over a small group of nuts. Spoon another dollop of caramel over another group of nuts, so the two rounds do not touch. Repeat until every group of nuts has a hood of caramel on top. Leave to cool.

7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Separate the turtles and transfer to the parchment.

8. Fill the bottom of a double boiler with 1 inch of water. Set it over the lowest flame possible. In the top pot of the double boiler, add all but a few chunks of the chocolate. Stir with a rubber spatula. Set the chocolate over the water. Heat the chocolate mixture to 110 degrees. Remove it from the heat and add the reserved chunks, stirring constantly, until the chocolate cools to 80 degrees.

9. Return the chocolate to the heat and let it rise to 91 degrees by heating it for 5 seconds, removing it from the heat for 5 seconds, then returning it to the heat until you reach the temperature.

10. Spoon enough chocolate over each caramel circle just to cover it. Top each turtle with a touch of fleur de sel. Jill Santopietro

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