It all started with a recent outing to Helen, Georgia. I had stopped in at Hansel & Gretel’s Fudge Shop (honestly, that’s the name…) because..well, really just because I smelled heavy, dark cocoa… and I needed a sugar fix. In the shop, back in the very last display case, were three trays of dark chocolate and milk chocolate Turtles with Sea Salt. I really get off on opposite parings – sweet / salty, bitter / tangy, sour / savory – and I had enjoyed a box of some salted caramels that I had been given as a thank-you gift. So the little salt sprinkled knobs of chocolate called to me from behind the glass.
|Sea Turtles drying on the rack|
I expected them to be saltier. I really wanted to have layers of sweet / salty flow over my tongue awakening my taste buds… I didn’t get that. I got a lot of chocolate with a little salt on top.
|all packaged up|
I came away from Helen thinking I can do that better. ..
- I can give the turtles dimension by poaching the pecans in sea salty water and then toast them for a nice satisfying crunch.
- I loved the intensity that the salted caramels had – so a tiny sprinkling of sea salt on the gooey caramel center would fix that.
- And finally, top them off with a healthy crystalline coating of varying sized salt crystals scattered across the top of the chocolate shell.
And – I wanted to make them Dairy – Gluten – Casein Free… just to make things interesting.
So – I’ve based the caramel heavily on Heidi @ Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom’ Dairy / Casein Free Chewy Caramel, you can follow the link through to the original recipe and her site. The recipe below will reflect my changes.
Makes 36 Turtles
Ingredients and Steps
First, the Salted Pecans:
2 Cups Pecan Halves
2 Cups Water
2 Tablespoons Sea Salt
Large Sauce Pan
Preheat the oven to 250
Non Stick Baking Pan
3 Large Sheets of Parchment Paper
Bring the water, pecans and salt to a boil in the pot.
Boil for a full 2 minutes, then set the pot off and allow to cool to warm.
Drain, spread the nuts in a single layer on the pan and bake for 2 hours at 250
You will need to turn the nuts occasionally to speed up the drying / toasting process
Cool and set aside
Place the pecan pieces in star patterns on the parchment paper
1 Cup Smart Balance “Lite” Butter Substitute
2 1/4 Cups Packed Brown Sugar
1 Cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer (Unflavored)
1 Cup So Delicious Coconut Milk
1 Cup Agave Syrup
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Paste
Large Sauce Pan
Glass or Pyrex Cooling Bowl
And Finally, Chocolate
Do this in 2 batches – (Which means Double every thing below) one for each side
2 lbs Semi Sweet Chocolate Bars (or Pieces)
2 Tablespoons Smart Balance Lite
1 Teaspoon Vegetable Shortening
Medium Microwave-proof Bowl