Sweet ‘n Salty with a toasted nut crunch, these pretzel caramels are addictive and super easy to make!
This recipe, is well, either a bit more advanced IF you make your own chewy soft caramel OR is SUPER easy if you go the 4-ingredient way. One of the things I like to do is offer both ways – fast (if you will) and those that really want a challenge in the kitchen. Ever since I was taught how to make homemade soft chewy caramel candy I haven’t bought those individually wrapped ones since – going on decades, to be honest. The store-bought ones are good but there’s just something more about the homemade ones. It’s less expensive and it’s a sense of accomplishment when you finally nail it. The instructions to make it are pretty straight forward but you will need a candy thermometer to make it. They are inexpensive and it must be a candy thermometer.
Turtles or pecan candies have been around since pretty much ever. This recipe is very similar to that – sort of. Mine uses toasted macadamia nuts and round pretzel circles. I actually found these pretzel rings at Aldi (which I seriously LOVE!). Every time I grab some to snack on I absolutely MUST put a ring on every finger and treat it like it’s edible jewelry. Yeah I know, I’m a 12-year-old dork at times. But hey I know I’m not alone all y’all pretzel ring wearing people. #dontjudgeme
Did you ever get in a mood for something but you’re not sure what you want? Yeah, that was me and kind of how this recipe came to life. It was one of those days where I swear I had a tapeworm as I pretty much ate everything in sight but NOTHING satisfied me. I mean even bacon was ‘meh’ to me. Crazy, right! Well, that’s when I started to mix my bites of stuff – bacon and chocolate in the same bite, peanut butter and chocolate, pretzels and bacon, pretzels and chocolate… See where I’m going? *note – replaced image as apparently, I was so anxious to post this I can’t spell pretzel LOL
The pretzels and chocolate combo were a winner but I wanted more. So I dug through my cabinets and started to pull out stuff. I had a container of leftover caramel candies I made so I grabbed those and figured I might as well make some sort of turtle candy so to the freezer I went.
Do you keep your nuts in the freezer? No? You really should. Nuts contain oil that will turn rancid in no time. I keep my nuts in the freezer. <insert 14-year-old giggle here> Stop it, you’re bad. LOL
Anyway, as I was digging through my freezer looking for pecans as turtle candy is made with pecans I saw that I didn’t have any. All I had were almonds, walnuts (which I really don’t like as they taste kind of mealy), and macadamia nuts. Now macadamia nuts are pricey, I get it. I bought this bag at Costco for a pretty awesome price (I think it was marked wrong, to be honest). So if you can’t find reasonably priced macadamia nuts, you could use plain peanuts (or pecans). And yes you can omit the nuts completely if you’re allergic.
As you can see above, assembling these are pretty simple – pretzel, chocolate in the ring, toasted macadamia nuts (always toast them to bring out more flavor!), caramel, chocolate, and then sea salt flakes. So a few things:
- To toast your nuts preheat the oven to 350F and place the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes and stir them (you can shake to toast all sides) halfway through. As soon as they are warmed and lightly toasted, remove them from the oven and place them in a bowl (take them off the pan. If you’re eating a snack you can lightly sprinkle with salt or spices. For this recipe, don’t salt.
- Next, sea salt flakes.
Who else here LOVES a sprinkling of salt on their chocolate or caramel?
This girl does! Now I know what you’re thinking “but Lor, the pretzels have salt on them, will this be salty?” Unless your pretzels are pretty much white because of all of the salt then no you’ll be fine. Remember this is just a finishing touch of crunchy salt. It’s different.
These little candies last forever. If you put them in the fridge the chocolate has the potential of turning white (but it’s still edible). I tend to store mine in an air-tight, dry container.
Okay fine… I store them in my belly. Fine, are you happy? LOL Seriously these things are AMAZING!!!
What I love most about them, besides the taste, is that they make the most perfect gift! Once they are all dried and hard, bag them up in a clear cellophane bag, tie a pretty ribbon on it and make someone’s day. I know if you gave me this, you’d make my entire week!
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 cup light corn syrup
- 1/8 cup water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 1/2 tablespoon butter, unsalted
- 1 vanilla bean pod (split and seeds scraped out) or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2–3 cups pretzel rings
- 8 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate, coarsely chopped, melted
- 1 1/2 cups toasted macadamia nuts
- Sea Salt Flakes
Make the Caramel
- In a small saucepan bring the cream, butter, and salt to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a 3-4 quart heavy bottom saucepan, add in the sugar, corn syrup, and water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then bring to a boil.
- Once it starts to boil, stop stirring but rather gently swirl the pan in circles until it is light amber in color. To prevent sugar crystallization brush down the side of the pan with a water-moistened pastry brush.
- Carefully pour the cream mixture into the caramel. This will bubble up profusely (This is why you want to use a 3-4 quart saucepan!). Stirring frequently, cook until the caramel reaches 244 F on a candy thermometer.
- Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla bean seeds (or extract). Stir to combine. Set the pan aside. *at this point you can pour the mixture into an 8” square baking pan lined (bottom and sides) with buttered parchment. The butter will help the caramel not stick to the parchment. If you let this cool completely it will be amazing soft & chewy caramel candies).
Assemble The Candy
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a ring every half-inch apart. Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoon chocolate into the center of the pretzel ring. Place 1 macadamia nut in the middle and gently push down. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes or until just set. Spoon 1-2 teaspoons of caramel over the top of the nut, chocolate, and pretzel. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
- Once the caramel on the pretzels has firmed up, drizzle 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate on top. Sprinkle Sea Salt Flakes. Allow to cool completely. To store, layer between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container at room temperature.
These are items I find to be EXTREMELY useful (and a must) when making caramel
Can you use prepared soft caramel candies?
Yes you can – just microwave them (until it’s soft and spoonable). But I’d love for you to make homemade caramel once. It’s AMAZING!!!
Keywords: candy, snacks, holiday gifts, munchies