Today we celebrate National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day. Did you know about this holiday? I find it a bit odd – chocolate-covered ANYTHING? – really??It is worthy of celebrating, nonetheless.
Just in time for the bigger “holiday season”, the recipe I have chosen to honour this day is home-made “turtles” or chocolate-covered salted caramels with pecans (caramels au fleur de sel aux pecanes et chocolat, if you want to sound fancy in some non-Francophone milieu – and, if you are unfamiliar with the term, I do not mean someone named Frank on the phone but speakers of French).
I noticed on a trip to France a few years ago that caramels with fleur de sel had become very popular. It must be the combination of contrasts, between the caramel’s rich sweetness with the fleur de sel‘s saltiness (mais, oui!) as well as the caramel’s thick-creaminess with a bit of crunch from the salt. The fleur de sel makes me think of crack cocaine, which I believe looks like white crystalline chunks – not entirely unlike clumps of the French sea salt – and fleur de sel makes the caramels absolutely addictive.
Thus, when I found a recipe for soft salted caramels from the fine Canadian food writer Lucy Waverman a few months later, I needed to try it. Lucy had adapted a recipe from the great Jacques Pepin. It is easy enough to make if one has a candy thermometer and can follow directions precisely. I had never made caramels before but found the recipe straight-forward, simple, and fun, though requiring a bit of time and one’s attention. But it is worth the effort.
For the inspiration – and the recipe, keep reading.