Since I’ve been gotten back from visiting my family down in PA, I have not once gotten into the kitchen to bake something (well, there were some cookies, but the dough was hanging out in the fridge from a time previous, and they weren’t quite up to blog standards). I’m going to be honest here. It’s not even because I haven’t had time; it’s more so that I’ve had almost too much time, so I’ve been really taking advantage of it in other ways..
There has been lots of online dress shopping for summer weddings and such (and I finally found one here). Lots of reading has been going on. I finished A Dance With Dragons finally, and then I read Rick Riordan’s newest book, A Serpent’s Shadow, in his series, The Kane Chronicles (it’s a children’s series, but if you’re interested in Egyptian mythology or Greek mythology, check his books out. They’re wonderful quick reads). Now I’m reading To Marry an English Lord, which is the book that inspired Julian Fellowes to write Downton Abbey. It’s Non Fiction about the era all of the American heiresses took England by storm, and it’s such an interesting read so far. I’m really enjoying it.
With all my reading and online shopping, I’ve also been working, biking (or doing yoga – I’ve been taking it easy lately), playing with the kitties, and trying to catch up on Mad Men. We’re just finishing up the 4th season, so we’re so close to being up to date! I’m obsessed with it. Anytime I look at an ad in a magazine, now, I debate whether it’s worthy of Don Draper, haha!
So, really, it seems that I’ve been finding absolutely everything else to do other than baking. But don’t worry, I’ve got some things planned, so the blog won’t be silent!
When I went home, I took a treat for my mom for a belated mother’s day gift: pecan caramel clusters. My mom loved the caramel I made for the salted caramel buttercream for the pupcakes, so I wanted to make something for her that included caramel. She loves pecans, so I figured making some sort of candy would be perfect. I ended up making it almost like a candy bark, and then I cut it into pieces and put the pieces in mini muffin cups.
I definitely chose the right candy to make; my mom loved it. They’re a little bit messy, but putting them into the mini muffin cups helped that a bit. Chocolate, caramel, and pecans is definitely one of my favorite combinations – these turned out so delicious!
I loved how easy these were to make. They’re so perfect for homemade gifts! But make sure you make enough to have a few yourself. You’ll want some.
Pecan Caramel Clusters
1/2 cup + 2 T sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cream
pinch of salt
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup dark chocolate chips
On a baking sheet, spread the pecan halves out. Toast in the oven at 350ºF for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Heat over medium heat until boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Brush down the sides with a damp pastry brush to avoid sugar crystals, and stop stirring. Cool until the caramel is a dark amber color (not stirring), swirling every so often. Remove from heat, and add the cream slowly. Whisk until smooth (it may splatter a bit). Stir in the sea salt. Set aside to cool slightly.
In the microwave (or using a double boiler), melt the chocolate chips at 30-second intervals, stirring in between. Set aside.
On a wax paper lined baking sheet, spread the toasted pecans out evenly, keeping them fairly close together. Pour the caramel overtop of the pecans, spreading lightly with a spatula to make sure they are all covered (it will pour over the edges of the pecans – you want that). Pour the chocolate overtop the caramel. Place in the fridge until the chocolate hardens. Once hardened, cut into pieces and place about 3 pieces each into mini muffin cups. Place the mini muffin cups into a cute box or airtight container. Enjoy!