For the birthdays of family members and close friends, I love gifting sweet treats created specifically with the tastes of that person in mind.
In my dessert-obsessed world, I think a personalized dessert is a pretty cool gift. And it's edible. Big plus.
When my grandmother's birthday came around this month, I already knew what I wanted to make for her big day.
I was inspired by one of her letters to me earlier in the year, where she described how much she loved walking the streets of Bar Harbor in the summertime and indulging in a chunk of turtle candy.
Or so I thought.
I lost count after the eighth trial, but I had the hardest time achieving the consistancy I desired in the caramel.
After work, every night last week, there were multiple attempts to perfect the caramel. And there were multiple failures.
Too hard. Too soft. Too runny. Too burnt.
Saturday morning arrived with torrential downpours and hurricane-force winds. I was fresh out of pecans and, lacking a canoe, there was no way I could safely run to the grocery store.
But I remained calm. Just because I didn't have one of the three main ingredients of turtle candy was no reason to panic. Some of my favorite recipes come to me when I am forced to work with only the ingredients I have on hand.
Shortly thereafter, a tray of gooey, chewey caramel encased in almonds and decident semisweet chocolate was sitting on my counter. A sprinkle of fleur de sel and an extra drizzle of chocolate topped it off.
When the chocolate set completely, I cut the candy into diamond shaped pieces and packaged them in a little tin with a twine bow. And was sure to apologize profusely for the late arrival of the candy.
But hopefully it was worth it.
Almond Turtle Bark with Fleur de Sel
Download Recipe: PDF | Word
from Allison M. Veinote
makes 1 pound
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, such as Guittard 61%, divided
1 cup raw almonds, cut into thirds, divided
12 caramel candies, such as Kraft
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Pinch table salt
Fleur de Sel
In double boiler, slowly melt chocolate.
When chocolate is melted, transfer 2 ounces to a small bowl and set aside. Add half of the almonds to the remaining 6 ounces of chocolate. Stir to combine evenly.
Pour chocolate-almond mixture onto quarter baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Using an offset spatula, spread to an even thickness.
Melt caramel candies, heavy cream and salt over double boiler until smooth. Pour evenly over chocolate-almond mixture.
Pour reserved melted chocolate over caramel, reserving just enough to drizzle over the top. Spread evenly with the offset spatula.
Distribute the remaining almonds on top of the second chocolate layer. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and drizzle remaining chocolate over the top.
Allow to harden completely at room temperature, about five hours.
Break or cut candy into desired shape. Store in airtight container at room temperature.