Thursday, May 7, 2009

Honey Pecan Caramels

If there is one thing my Mom and I most certainly have in common it is our weakness for caramels. When I lived at home and we’d go out running errands or shopping, we always found an excuse to stop by the candy store where we got our praline fix. Caramel with pecans is a match that’s meant to be. So, for Mother’s Day, I decided to make some homemade caramels for Mom, and I turned again to Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich. Each time I use this book, I appreciate it more. There’s a preciseness to the flavor combinations and an intentional simplicity which allows certain flavors to come forward. I previously made the fleur de sel caramels which were positively incredible. That recipe is found in the ‘flavors of herbs and spices, flowers and leaves’ section, and it, of course, highlighted the play of salt vs sweet. The caramels I made for Mom, are from the ‘flavors of honey and sugar’ section, and Medrich recommends experimenting with different honeys for this. I could do that on an on-going basis and run out honey varieties before getting tired of the caramels.

I chose a local, Texas wildflower honey for these. The honey was combined with corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and cooked until simmering. A candy thermometer was attached to the pan, and the mixture was brought up to 305 degrees F. At the same time, cream was warmed in a small saucepan. Butter was added to the honey mixture off the heat, and then the cream was stirred in as well. It was returned to the stove and brought up to 245 degrees F, and then there was the opportunity to decide how chewy you want your caramels. For soft chewy, you let it go to 248 degrees, and for firmer chewy, it goes to 250. I chose soft, and at 248 and not a degree higher, I turned off the heat, added the vanilla, and poured the bubbly goodness over some pecans in a pan lined with buttered foil. Medrich suggested walnuts, but I used pecans. See above statement regarding caramel and pecans.

I left the pan of caramel to cool overnight, and cut it into pieces the next day. These were much stickier than the sea salt caramels I made before. I’m not sure if that was due to the honey or our off-the-charts humidity. Or, maybe I let the sea salt caramels get to a slightly higher temperature, and they set up to a firmer state. Storing them in the refrigerator also makes them firmer, and some chilling time made them easier to cut. Were they delicious? Let me just say that cutting and wrapping them individually in cellophane was slow going. I ate every other one I cut and then had to pause and rinse my hands so as not to leave sticky fingerprints on the cellophane. I finally wrapped enough of them to fill a box for Mom. The rest are mine, and I’m not sharing.



38 comments:

  1. I'm horrible at candy-making! the last time I tried, I almost burned the house down...though these pics make me drool, I don't think I'll be able to recreate these!

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  2. Pecans and honey are something I love and I would surely make if I had a candy thermometre. They look amazing. Happy mother's Day.

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  3. What a great gift for your Momma!

    She's going to love that.

    I think I will make something for my Mom too, that's a great idea!

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  4. That honey sounds like a great match for the nuts. A perfect Mom's day gift!

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  5. Those look awesome. What a nice gift idea!

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  6. Those caramels look wonderful - great flavor with honey and pecans!

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  7. Oh how you stir the memories of my mom making things like this. Remember pralines they used to sell in the Tex-Mex places like El Chico and El Fenix...

    Now I need a fix after looking at your fabulous pictures and writing!

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  8. wow, lisa the texture and glassiness of your caramels looks perfect - I love the milky sweet sensation you get from a good caramel.

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  9. I could probably forget my "nuts and sweets don't mix" theory if I tasted one of these.

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  10. Candy making is something I have yet to try. Those looks so good. Caramel and walnut are a good combination.

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  11. I love a soft, chewy caramel. These are perfect!

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  12. My dentist probably would have a fit at me eating these. But ya know what, you only live once, so you ought to live a good life with lots of sticky candy.

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  13. Lisa, I also have a weakness to caramels. I really think that the pecan caramels you made look elegant.

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  14. These look perfect! I like that you used local honey too :)

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  15. I just love the way they look! that semi transparent look. pecans & honey!! yes!

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  16. Drool ... drool... These caramels look amazing.
    I've also made the salted caramel from her book, gosh she is my favorite write. Can you believe I have 4 of her books, tried so many of her recipe, and never disappointed.
    I'd love to try it with pecan next time.

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  17. There caramels look so perfect! I love their deep color, so different from the butterscotch-y tone of the ones I make. Speaking of which, I've been successful with one of every 3 batches but my foster grandmother recently gave me her candy thermometer (looks like yours) which she used for her confections. I have high hopes that it will do its magic . . . !

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  18. oooh! that first picture is gorgeous! great job

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  19. They look so cute and decadent! Yummy

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  20. "The rest are mine, and I’m not sharing."

    Your damn right they are. Enjoy,

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  21. i have now effectively filled my food porn quota for the day. those are some stellar shots of what's sure to be the finest caramel i've ever seen, and i mean it. drool city. :)

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  22. Hi Lisa, do you need volunteers to help you finish your delicious food? I wish I lived in your neighbourhood.

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  23. A gorgeous treat! Really beautiful and tempting!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  24. Wow, these look fantastic! My mom's not so big on caramel and nuts (I know, crazy), but my dad goes [here comes the pun] nuts for them, so I'm definitely saving this for Father's Day.

    :)

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  25. First time here. Love the smooth silky base made with honey and caramel... and pecans are just the right treat to go with them.

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  26. What a delicious way to surprise mom for Mother's Day. I would hide them if I was you.

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  27. They look so pretty and tempting. Lovely flavours and textures.

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  28. I have always wanted to make caramels, it's on my list of things to try. Yours look perfect!

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  29. I totally agree about Alice Medrich. Her recipes have never failed me.

    These little gems look almost too pretty to eat ... *almost*

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  30. Waw,.....Lisa!!
    Can't you fly over to Brussels & make them for me & my husband???

    These look so fabulous!!!!!!

    I want 1 or 2 now, even that it is bedtime!! MMMMMMMMMM......Yum! Yum!

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  31. I'm SO impressed! I love caramels and have always wanted to make them - they look amazing!

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  32. They look delicious and I love the deep rich color - you just know a lot of flavor is behind that - just waiting for you to discover it with the first bite, confirm it with the second, ...

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  33. I work at Bass Pecan Company we are having a pecan recipe contest.
    Enter in a chance to win $1000 at our website www.basspecan.com

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  34. Good thing we don't have a store in town that sells cookbooks. I think I would probably run out and bought this one immediately--those look amazing.

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  35. Just stumbled upon your blog. Nice job! I will take caramel over chocolate anyday. I will try these over the weekend.

    Lisa
    http://www.authenticsuburbangourmet.blogspot.com

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  36. these nice photos remind me of the pecan toffee I made last week. now I have to post something about it.

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  37. Beautiful! I haven't ventured into the world of candy making yet, but I've bookmarked this one in case I ever feel brave enough to give a try!

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  38. Oh wow, this looks AMAZING! I love homemade caramel AND pecans, so this is a MUST MAKE!

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