For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.
Note: Emily is still running amok in the Red Kitchen.
Our family has several important Christmas traditions. We have the Hanging of the Whizzy Thing (a colorful handmade ornament created by yours truly in 1979); the annual viewings of A Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; and, of course, the ever-popular Vandalizing of the Village, which involves inflicting some sort of indignity (red lights in the houses, T.P. hanging from the trees, etc.) on Mom’s carefully hand-painted Christmas village.
One of my favorite traditions, which I picked up from Mom, involves spending an evening or two in the kitchen, making Christmas candy to share with deserving friends.
Chocolate turtles are among the easiest — yet most impressive-looking — candies you can make.
Begin by submerging an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in water and boiling it for two hours, taking care to add water as necessary to keep the can covered. Let it cool completely. (I like to do this step a day or two in advance.) When you open the can, you will find that the milk has turned into soft, creamy caramel.
Once the caramel is ready, melt a bag of chocolate chips with a tablespoon or so of canola oil. The fastest way to do this is in the microwave: Nuke for 30 seconds, stir, lather, rinse, repeat. It usually takes about two minutes to get all the chocolate chips to melt.
When the chocolate has melted, line two cookie sheets with waxed paper and use a teaspoon to make thin circles of chocolate about an inch and a half in diameter. Chill the cookie sheets for a few minutes to let the chocolate set up.
After the chocolate has set up, spoon a little caramel into the center of each circle and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Return turtles to the refrigerator and melt half a bag of chocolate chips with another teaspoon or so of oil, following the same process as before.
Spoon the melted chocolate over the turtles, taking care to cover the caramel and nuts thoroughly and seal the edges.
Chill until chocolate hardens. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes about two dozen candies.
If you work efficiently, you can make a batch of turtles in about an hour and a half, not counting the time it takes for the caramel to cook.