Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters


Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters
2 1/2 cups pecans
1/2 cup butter (salted)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk (1/2 of a 14-ounce can)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 (12-ounce) package milk chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon shortening (butter-flavored Crisco recommended)
Toast Pecans:

In a large skillet, toast 2 1/2 cups of pecans over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until they darken slightly and become fragrant. This should take just a few minutes.
Prepare Cookie Sheets:

Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Arrange the pecans into clusters, with three pecans per cluster, leaving about an inch of space between each.
Make Caramel:

In a medium saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup, and 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk. Increase the heat slightly and stir continuously. Cook until the mixture reaches 235-240°F. Remove from heat around 234°F, as the temperature will continue to rise slightly off heat. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
Assemble Clusters:

Quickly drizzle about 1 1/2 teaspoons of caramel over each pecan cluster, ensuring the caramel touches all the nuts to stick them together.
Melt Chocolate:

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat 12 ounces of milk chocolate chips in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval until fully melted. Add 1/2 teaspoon shortening, let it sit for a minute to melt, and then stir together.
Finish Clusters:

Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons of melted chocolate over each caramel-coated pecan cluster. Swirl the chocolate with the spoon to create a decorative pattern.
Set and Serve:

Allow the chocolate to harden and cool completely. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container for storage.
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