Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Cookie Blog Swap - Salted Chocolate Caramel Clusters

What is it about the holidays that makes even the simplest tasks seems daunting?  I love to bake but around the holidays there just never seems to be enough time!  This recipe is a favorite of mine because it involves ZERO baking or mixing. Even the measuring is minimal and the result is still a yummy, sweet treat.  Throw together some cute packaging and you are ready for a cookie swap!

Salted Chocolate Caramel Clusters


8 oz of pecan halves, toasted
14 oz package of caramel candies, unwrapped
1 tablespoon of  milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
12 oz package of dark chocolate pieces
2 ounces of white chocolate, chopped
Fleur de Sel

1.  Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Arrange pecans in a cluster of 5-6 halves

2.  In a small saucepan combine caramels, milk and vanilla.  Heat and stir over medium heat until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth.  Don't let them burn!  Spoon caramel over each cluster of pecans.  Return saucepan to heat periodically if your mixture starts to harden before you've finished all your clusters.  Let stand for about 30 minutes or until firm.


3.  In a medium saucepan heat and melt dark chocolate pieces over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Set aside about 1/4 cup of melted chocolate in a resealable plastic bag.  Spoon remaining chocolate over clusters and gently spread to the edge.  Let stand for about 30 minutes or until firm.



4.  Meanwhile, chop white chocolate into small pieces and melt in microwave uncovered for about 1 minute, stirring every 20 seconds.  Spread white chocolate over tops of clusters.

5.  Microwave the plastic bag you reserved the dark chocolate mixture in for 20 seconds.  Snip a tiny bit off one corner and drizzle over the top of each cluster.

6.  Finish by sprinkling fleur de sel over each while drizzled chocolate is still soft.

They are so yummy and rich and EASY!  And they look great packaged up.

I like to package mine in these great glossy boxes from the Container Store. 

Line the inside with some tissue paper and then place a layer of cellophane down.  These pecan clusters are super rich for a half dozen is plenty for a nice gift!

I am sort of nuts about making yarn pom poms.  It's the easiest, most mindless task and you can whip up a dozen of them while watching tv.  I use this little kit.  One great big pom pom makes this gift look extra special. 

Who wouldn't want to open that? Especially with this yumminess inside!