Most of my Christmas treat memories centre around my mother’s holiday baking. The few store boughten items never stood a chance against the seasoned pro in my childhood kitchen. The only two exceptions were After Eight mints and Turtles chocolates. Mmm, Turtles. Pecan, caramel AND chocolate, who could ask for more? The answer is ‘me’, I can ask for more.
When I saw the recipe on Vegetarian with Benefits, I knew I had to try my hand at making these iconic treats myself. I had no intention of adding bacon till I was simultaneously making the caramel while frying some bacon for a bacon and tomato sandwich for lunch. Just like what seems like every other human being on the planet has started thinking recently, I thought, “bacon goes great with chocolate.” Turns out the masses are not wrong.
These little guys are everything a turtle should be. They’re sweet and chewy from the caramel, crunchy and rich from the roasted pecans and decadent from the dark chocolate, plus (a big plus) they’re salty and savoury from the bacon. Oh and the sea salt sprinkled on top sends them over the edge.
Do make these, but make a lot. They won’t last long.
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 tin condensed milk
- ¾-pound pecan halves (Nina said she buys 2 – 1 pound bags of pecans since some of the pecans are broken. I just happened to have a bunch in my freezer)
- A half pound of bacon, cooked crispy
- 8 oz semisweet chocolate
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Add the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and condensed milk to a heavy-bottomed saucepan with high sides. Start with the heat on high until it is boiling, and then reduce the heat to medium. Stir constantly for approximately 15 minutes, or until the caramel reaches 235 degrees Fahrenheit. One way to test this is to drop a bit of the caramel into cold water. If it forms a soft ball, then it is ready. This is known as the 'soft ball stage'. Let the caramel cool for about an hour. It should still be warm but not hot.
- Arrange pecans to resemble turtles – one for the head and two for the feet – on parchment paper. Roll small balls of the caramel and place in the center of the pecans, squishing gently into place. Cover the caramel with a piece of cooked bacon. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Gently melt chocolate and butter over low heat until just melted. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Hold the turtle by the head and spoon the chocolate over top. Place the turtles back onto the parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with medium course sea salt. Put them back into the fridge to harden the chocolate.