Candy making is one of those things that most of us only do once a year or so, myself included. But I always very much look forward to it! There’s something so fun about the precision of it and how a little heat can turn sugar into something completely different. It feels like a really delicious science experiment. Or maybe a magic trick. Some candies are trickier than others, but these Caramel Pecan Clusters are a great beginner’s option. A little more forgiving than some fudges and brittles, these clusters take sugar and butter and cream and turn them into something chewy and nutty and irresistible.
They start with brown sugar and corn syrup, which you’ll want to set over medium-high heat and stir until it dissolves.
Once it’s bubbling, you’ll slowly drizzle in heavy cream. You want to keep the mixture bubbling and not dilute the temperature, so make sure to add that cream very slowly.
Then add the butter, while continuing to stir, and keep stirring until a candy thermometer hits 245°F. (That should take about 15 minutes.) This is the lower end of a firmball stage which is where you want to be for a soft caramel candy like this.
Remoe it from the heat and stir in the pecans and vanilla…
… and then it’s time to scoop.
You’ll want to scoop these out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. You can scoop them out and leave them be and they’ll end up as flat discs, like this:
Or, you can opt to mound them up a bit so they have more height. You can do that using a fork to kind of scoop the candy up onto itself, or honestly, you can shape them casually with your hands once they’ve cooled a bit.
If you were looking for extra credit, you could even dip these in some chocolate candy coating, but they’re lovely just as they are. Sweet, buttery, and full of pecan crunch tucked into all that candy chew, these are a perfect candy for someone new to caramel.
Caramel Pecan Clusters
Yield 18 candies
10m prep time
30m cook time
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- To a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the brown sugar, light corn syrup, and salt. Stir to dissolve sugar in the corn syrup. Keep slowly stirring as mixture heats up.
- Once mixture starts to gently bubble, drizzle in the heavy cream very slowly while continuing to stir. Mixture must continue to bubble, so add cream very slowly.
- Add butter, continuing to stir. Keep stirring until a candy thermometer reads 245°F. This should take about 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and quickly stir in vanilla and pecans.
- Scoop mixture out with a small cookie scoop onto prepared baking sheet.
- Gently shape scoops with a fork to make candy into taller mounds, if desired. Let candy sit until set, and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from The Novice Chef Blog.