I'm so obsessed with 30 Rock and Parks and Rec, it's surprising to find out I didn't watch The Office for the first time until a couple of years ago, and obviously I instantly loved it. I've only re-watched one more time sequentially, and I decided to revisit it again recently, which was an excellent decision. Unsurprisingly, food is used intentionally and thoughtfully in the show, featuring specifics for peak comedy moments. This episode, Dunder Mifflin Infinity, was no different. Michael Scott is trying to win back clients with elaborate gift baskets that include all the cliché fixings. I LOVE chocolate turtles and have since I was really young, so when Andy Bernard reached for them and was shut down by Michael, I felt his excitement and disappointment. The turtles recur as a plot point later when Michael throws a fit when he goes to get a basket back in true Michael Scott form and sees they ate the turtles already. I can't blame him, they're delicious. I needed something sweet to bring to a reunion of coworkers and when I chose this, I didn't make the connection that I was bringing something from The Office to former coworkers, and it made me love the choice even more. I wanted to up the flavor with some homemade caramel and I definitely think it elevated these from an above average day at work to Pretzel Day.
Chocolate Turtles with Homemade Caramel
inspired by The Office season 4, episodes 3&4
makes about 20-24 turtles
- 2 cups sugar
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter (or you can substitute salted for a portion if you want the caramel to be a hint salty, I did 8tbsp unsalted/4tbsp salted)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8oz pecan halves (roasted and/or salted optional)
- 16 oz chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
- sea salt for sprinkling on top, optional
Make the caramel. Heat sugar in a pan over medium heat. When the sugar starts to liquify around the edges, begin to stir every few seconds with a heat-resistant rubber spatula. Continue to stir until all the lumps have melted and the sugar has turned golden, turn down the heat if necessary to keep from burning if this process seems like it's taking a while. Once smooth, add butter to the pan carefully, ideally with a spoon because it will spit and bubble. Stir until the butter is completely melted and combined. If some is left on the top, it's fine. Mix in cream while stirring. Any butter on top will mix in at this point. The mixture will become bubbly. Let it bubble over the heat for one minute, stirring once or twice and turn off the heat. Let cool.
When the caramel is cooling, make piles of the pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet, using five or six pieces and making sure to layer them so they overlap. If they're too spread out, the caramel will seep through.
Once the caramel is cool enough, add about one tablespoon to each pile. Let rest.
In a microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate 8oz at a time in 30 second increments, stirring in between until the chocolate is melty and becomes smooth when you stir it. Add about 2 tbsp to each pile by drizzling it over the top and letting it run down the pecan cluster. Heat additional chocolate as necessary. Add sea salt if you want them a little salty.
Let the chocolate harden at room temperature for several hours or place in fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes.
[made while watching American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson]