I made these originally last Christmas for the office and loved them. I wanted to make them again this year but do a little something different.
I had a bottle of bourbon in my cupboard—this year’s new “It” drink—and decided to add a little to my caramels. Oh boy, was it awesome! My first thought was to use rum, but I didn’t have any; the bourbon worked very nicely. They’re very simple to make and will easily impress your friends and family. Taking the time to make your own caramel is worth it.
24 whole mini-pretzel twists
24 Bourbon Caramels
8 ounces dark chocolate, melted
24 whole pecan halves
1 1/3 cups 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 teaspoon 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 nuts are 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 1½ teaspoons of chocolate onto the parchment, spacing them about 1 inch apart, then lightly drop each pretzel onto the middle of each dollop, making sure they’re centered.
Cheryl Vivian is a neurotic baker who came to D.C. via Detroit, Chicago, and New York City. She likes to get nerdy about baking, and there are at least two dozen eggs, four pounds of butter, and a quart of buttermilk in her fridge at all times. She doesn’t cry over burnt cookies, sunken cakes, or tough pie dough, but she will try (and try) until it’s just right. Cheryl loves to blend new trends with traditional recipes and believes that everything is better with a pinch of salt. Follow along on Instagram at @cherylvivian.