Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

The inside of a perfectly toasted marshmallow is what makes a s’more treat so sweet.  Toasted over the hottest of coals, melting and browning the outside just to the verge of catching fire, as the marshmallow starts to droop and sag on the roasting stick.

S'mores and a Campfire

That ooey, gooey goodness – sublime sugar perfection, sandwiched between two graham crackers with a square of chocolate.  A satisfying crisp cracker giving way to that velvet texture and milk chocolate flavor, and then that satisfying ooze of the marshmallow forced out the sides as you complete your first bite . . . part of the perfect campfire memory.

S'mores and a Campfire

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Inside” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Pinterest Fail: Pecan and Salted Caramel Candies

Pecan & Salted Caramel Candies (photo courtesy of King Arthur Flour)
Pecan & Salted Caramel Candies (photo courtesy of King Arthur Flour)

When I originally pinned this lovely “Pecan & Salted Caramel Candies” recipe to my “Cookies, Candies & Gifts in a Jar” Board on Pinterest for future reference, it promised me a “super easy” recipe and a “quick, easy candy” that I thought could be a nice option for holiday treat boxes for neighbors and friends.  With traveling over Christmas and then getting bogged down with the nasty cold bug caught along the way, it was not until the Sunday after Christmas that I felt up to shopping and baking.

In my typical procrastinating fashion, I left the house after dinner and had a couple of other errands to run, ending up at Target’s grocery section at 8:00 p.m., since I was already in the store.  With my two teens’ input and offers to help bake that night, we had decided to make my mom’s easy microwave fudge and date mounds (two of our recurrent classics), and then try this new “Pecan & Salted Caramel Candies” recipe, because Pinterest suggested I could not fail with it.  I opted for the caramel candies, already pre-cut into little squares, and probably should have made one more stop at the large grocery store to see if perhaps they had the “chocolate disks” listed in the recipe; but the evening was already growing late and I had three batches of treats still to make so that I could distribute them the following day on New Year’s Eve!  I settled on semi-sweet chocolate chips when disks could not be found in Target’s grocery aisles, figuring a little cluster of chocolate would work just as well as the disk, when all was said and done.  Melted chocolate is melted chocolate, right?

Now, before we proceed, envision all those lovely cooking blogs with the charming, beautifully arranged ingredients, meticulously arranged background of kitchen accessories, and gourmet shop kitchen tools posed perfectly to illustrate each step of the process.  This is why I do not have a cooking blog — note that the reference to food in my blog’s title is “eat” not “cook.”  The photo speaks for itself:

Pinterest fail: Kitchen prep area
Kat B.’s kitchen prep area

Once I returned home (now 9:00 p.m.), my two teens (who I had made the mistake of earlier referencing as my baking assistants) melted away despite prior offers to help (in their defense, one had skis to wax for the following morning’s workout and the other, well, I still love the other one, too).  The microwave fudge went off without a hitch as it always does, and the date mounds were so tasty that my family’s portion of those treats are gone.  Then, there were the Pecan & Salted Caramel Candies . . . the process started with some promise for a good outcome. I even decided to get the camera out, thinking how nice these could be, just like the recipe!

"Before" Pecan and Salted Caramel Candies
There’s still hope in this “before” photo.

Now, I had softened the caramel squares in order to flatten them into “half-dollar” size circles, but in hindsight, I should have thrown them into a bowl and melted them together, to provide a nice dollop of caramel on top of each “small pile” of pecans.  And, in hindsight, I should have waited for the caramel to have melted somewhat further before placing the chocolate chips on top, because once that step was done, trying to smush the whole darn pile into a cohesive cluster as my patience got the better of me was not a pretty sight.

"After" photo of Pecan and Salted Caramel Candies
No, the cat did not happen to walk through the pan as I was trying to salvage this mess.

[Post update/edit: I showed my husband this blog post and he sees the first photo — the recipe photo — and says “oh, those look really nice.”  I told him, “those aren’t the ones I made, that’s the recipe photo.”  I then scrolled down to the photo just above and said, “this is the photo of my result” — he visibly cringed.]

At some point, after multiple rounds of, “well, maybe just another minute or two will help” in the oven, I said “screw it, I am done” and sprinkled the kosher salt across the candies, surveying the damage.

"Final" Pecan and Salted Caramel Candies
Just ignore the disaster in the background . . .

I probably should have included an apology note in each treat box with this layer of candies, but at midnight, the bar of expectations has been lowered, if not destroyed completely.

Perhaps you will have better luck than me?  Kat B.’s tip — search out those chocolate disks!

Pecan & Salted Caramel Candies

(from King Arthur Flour, link to printable recipe here)

  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 4-ounce block of caramel, cut into 16 pieces; or 16 caramel candies
  • 16 bittersweet chocolate disks (1″ to 1 1/2″ disks)
  • a pinch of Fleur de Sel or other sea salt, to garnish each candy

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Divide the pecans into 16 small piles on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet (a scant 2 teaspoons pecans each).
  3. Flatten each caramel cube into the size of a half dollar, and place on the pecans.
  4. Heat in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the caramel softens and begins to melt.
  5. Remove from the oven; wait 1 minute, then top each cluster with one disk of chocolate, pressing it into the softened caramel gently.
  6. Top each candy with a few flakes of Fleur de Sel, or other coarse sea salt.
  7. Allow the caramel and chocolate to cool and set before removing candies from the pan.

Yield: 16 candies.

May your new year be filled with travel, garden and eat delights!

Ciao! ~ Kat