A friend of mine in the office gave me these as a present for Christmas. They were delicious. She asked me how I felt about them honestly and I replied, “They’re delicious, but they were a little hard to chew.” She agreed and we brainstormed on how to prevent that from happening.
We thought that making homemade caramel would be best. I went home that night and made a batch. I found a recipe for Sea Salt Caramels that I made once long ago (so long ago that I don’t remember ever making them). The caramel turned out pretty well, but I didn’t let the sugar cook to a deep enough golden brown, so it was a bit on the light side and lacked that deep caramel-y flavor. They were still salty-sweet, buttery, creamy and rich, but they could’ve been better.
Making your own caramel is an extra step, but one that is worthwhile. You can always cut what’s left over into squares and individually wrap for later.
- 24 whole mini-pretzel twists
- 24 Bourbon Caramels
- 8 ounces, dark chocolate, melted
- 24 whole pecan halves
- 1 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/3 cup honey
- 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoons sea salt
- Prepare an 8-inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the cream in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. Stir in the sugar, corn syrup and honey and stir until it begins to boil. Periodically wipe down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
- Cook the candy, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 257 degrees on a candy thermometer.
- Remove the pan from the heat immediately and stir in the butter, bourbon, vanilla, and salt.
- Pour into prepared pan and let set at room temperature until firm enough to cut.
- Cut the caramel into small squares with a chef’s knife.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Place the pecan halves in a single layer on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes, shaking the pan once halfway through, until they're lightly toasted. Remove them after they're toasted and put them on a plate to cool.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the pretzels neatly on the pan, then top each pretzel with a caramel square. Place the pan into the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the caramels are soft, but not melting. Remove the pan from the oven.
- Gently press a pecan half onto each caramel, just enough for the caramel to fill the pretzel. Set them aside to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. When the pretzel/caramels are cooled, remove them from the baking sheet. Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate on the parchment spacing them about 1 inch apart, then lightly drop each pretzel onto the middle of each dollop, making sure they're centered.