Outside of the Breadbox and www.outsideofthebreadbox.com is in no way affiliated with, endorsed by, or sponsored by Outside the Breadbox, Inc., a Colorado corporation, or its federally-registered trademark, Outside the Breadbox®. If, however, you would like to try the best gluten-free baked goods in the world, visit www.outsidethebreadbox.com.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Recipe: Soft Caramel Pecan Chews

Soft Pecan Caramel Chews

Recipe: Soft Caramel Pecan Chews

I've never been terribly fond of hard candies

I feel as though they hold the eater hostage. When you unwrap a Werther's and place it upon your tongue, you have two options. Either you suck on the unforgiving confection until it completely fades away (a seemingly interminable process), or you risk dental damage and bite down in hopes of speeding your sugar intake.

Chewy candies just make more sense. They provide all of the sugar with none of the hassle. Pure, sugar-junky satisfaction!

When it comes to making the two varieties - hard and soft - there's almost no difference. What differentiates the treats is little more than a few degrees on a candy thermometer. And as luck would have it, heating Caramel to the "Chewy Candy Stage" takes less time than if you were making those rock-like alternatives. Such good fortune!

This particular recipe was a bit of a special request. As part of a barter transaction, my cousin made me a custom cutting board. All he asked for in return was "something with Pecans and Caramel". 

So here it goes...

Sheet Tray Lined with Parchment Paper and a Silpat
If you've not yet read it, take a quick look at the overview on Caramel. You'll find it's helpful to know what you're working with before you start. 

As with any recipe, before cooking, make sure you have all of your required tools and ingredients in place and ready to go. Proper "Mise-en-Place" is particularly important when working with Caramel. Molten sugar waits for no man. While you're busy digging for a second pot or a box of salt, you can be certain that your unattended Caramel is bubbling away, with or without you.

Start by preparing a sheet tray for the final Caramel. Line a quarter sheet tray (9"x13" pan) with a silpat and lightly spray both the silpat and the sides of the tray with non-stick spray. You can also line the tray with wax paper or parchment and spray that with non-stick spray.

Pecans for Soft Caramel Chews
Next, hand select the whole Pecans that you will ultimately place on top of each piece of Caramel (you will need 45 pieces based on the recommended portioning). If you don't like Pecans, you can use any nut or even dried fruit. Or you can just make the Caramel -- free country!

Toast the Pecans in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 7-10 minutes. Always toast nuts before you use them. The flavor enhancement is worth the short wait.

Sugar, Glucose and Water for Caramel
Now that you have everything prepared, start by making a simple Caramel. Heat the Sugar, Glucose (or Corn Syrup) and Water in a large pot over high heat.

Warming Cream, Butter and Salt
While the Sugar mixture boils and the Caramel begins to transform to a deep amber, heat the Cream, Butter and Salt in a separate pot. Once the Cream is warm and the Butter is melted, set the pot aside.

Deep Amber Caramel
At this point, the Sugar should be well on its way to caramelizing. When the Caramel reaches the desired level of darkness, remove the pot from the heat. I recommend cooking the Caramel to at least 360 degrees Fahrenheit (182 degrees Celsius) for a rich flavor.

Caramel Slacked with Cream and Butter
Slowly pour the warm Cream mixture into the Caramel, whisking actively. Since the Caramel is extremely hot, the water content in the Cream will turn to steam upon contact. This results in a lot of bubbling, so be careful.

Continuing to Cook Caramel Sauce to 240-250 Degrees Fahrenheit
Once all of the Cream has been added to the Caramel, return the pot to the stove and continue to heat the mixture to 245-250 degrees Fahrenheit (118-121 degrees Celsius). The higher the final temperature, the firmer the final candy.

Hot Caramel Poured into a Prepared Sheet Tray
Once the target temperature is reached, carefully pour the Caramel onto the prepared sheet tray. Slam the tray on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles.

Course Salt Sprinkled onto Cooling Caramel
Sprinkle coarse salt (Maldon Salt, Fleur de Sel or Sea Salt) on top of the warm Caramel.

Pecans Arranged on Caramel
Carefully arrange the individual Pecans on top of the Caramel.

Allow the Caramel to cool to room temperature. When the Caramel is completely cool, wrap the tray in a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with a thin coating of non-stick spray, and place the tray in the refrigerator. 

When it comes to cutting the Caramels, I find that it is easiest to portion the candies directly from the refrigerator. Use a knife to release the Caramel from the sheet tray, carefully cutting around the edges. 

The Caramels can be individually portioned from the large block as needed. The suggested size is a ~1.5" square. Use a sharp knife to cut the caramels and either serve them immediately or wrap them in individual pieces of wax paper.

The Caramels will keep well for weeks and weeks, but they should be stored in a cool, dry place.

- The Recipe -

Soft Pecan Caramel Chews:

Yield: 1,125g - 45 x 25g pieces in Quarter Sheet Tray (9"x13")

  • Sugar: 600g (3 Cups)
  • Corn Syrup / Glucose: 120g (1/3 Cup)
  • Water: 120g (0.5 Cup)

  • Heavy Cream: 480g (2 Cups)
  • Butter, cubed: 115g (1 Stick / 0.5 Cup)
  • Salt: 12g (2 Tsp)

  • Whole Pecans: 45 Pieces (about 90g)
  • Coarse Salt, finishing


1. Line a quarter sheet tray (9"x13" pan) with a silpat and lightly spray the silpat and the sides of the tray with non-stick spray. You can also line the sheet tray with wax paper or parchment that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

2. Select 45 whole Pecans (or other nut) to place on top of the final Caramel (each Pecan designates an individual portion). Toast the Pecans for 7-10 minutes in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. Set the nuts aside to cool.  

3. Combine the Sugar, Glucose (or Corn Syrup) and Water in a large pot over high heat. It will take several minute for the water to evaporate and for the Sugars to begin to caramelize. 

Chef's Note: It is very important to use a large pot for the Caramel. Later, when you add the Cream to the Caramel, the mixture will bubble dramatically. If the pot is too small, the contents will bubble over creating a (hard to clean) mess.

. While the Caramel mixture comes to a boil and begins to caramelize, warm the Cream, Butter and Salt in a separate pot. When the Cream is warm and the Butter is completely melted, set the pot aside.

5. When the Caramel reaches the desired color (for a deep flavor, a minimum of 360 degrees Fahrenheit / 182 degrees Celsius is recommended), remove the pot from the heat and slowly slack the Caramel with the Cream mixture while actively whisking. 

6. Return the pot to the stove over medium-high heat. Heat the Caramel back to 245-250 degrees Fahrenheit (116-121 degrees Celsius) while stirring gently. If you exceed 250 degrees Fahrenheit, the Caramels will become hard candies.

Chef's Note: You can adjust the consistency of the Caramel Chews based on your personal preference. For softer candies, heat to 245 degrees Fahrenheit - anything cooler will be more like a thick sauce. For firmer candies, heat to 250 degrees Fahrenheit - anything hotter will be more like a hard candy.

7. As soon as the Caramel reaches the target temperature, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the Caramel onto the prepared sheet tray. To pop any air bubbles that may have formed, firmly slam the sheet tray on the counter several times, being careful not to touch the hot Caramel. 

8. While the Caramel is still warm, sprinkle it with a light layer of coarse Salt.  Next, carefully arrange the pre-selected Pecans on top of the Caramel (for 45 pieces, place the Pecans across five rows and nine columns).

9. Allow the Caramel to cool to room temperature. Once cool, wrap the entire sheet tray with a piece of plastic wrap gently sprayed with non-stick spray. Place the Caramel into the refrigerator to cool further.

10. Portion the Caramels directly from the refrigerator. Use a knife or offset spatula to release the side of the Caramel from the sheet tray. Using a sharp knife, portion the individual candies into ~1.5" squares (around the placed Pecans). The Caramels will quickly stick to one another, so immediately serve cut pieces or wrap them in wax paper or parchment. If you do not plan to serve all of the Caramels at once, you can store the unportioned piece in the refrigerator or another cool, dry place. 


- The Caramel will keep for many weeks if stored in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator. 
- Keep the unportioned Caramel wrapped in a piece of plastic wrap gently sprayed with non-stick spray. Portioned Caramels should be served immediately or wrapped in wax paper or parchment. 

Questions? Comments? Send me an email or leave a comment.
Stay connected with Outside of the Breadbox on Facebook, view on Instagram,
follow on Twitter @BreadChefMark. And sign up for the email list.

No comments:

Post a Comment