June 12, 2013

How to Make Sea Salt Caramel Pecan Roll (Pecan Logs)

My dad is a nut for caramel, so for Father's Day this year, I decided to come up with my own recipe for making the nostalgia-conjuring classic confection ~ The Pecan Log.  

My recipe departs from the original with a few modern twists:  the caramel is made in the microwave* (in just 15 minutes); the marshmallow filling is lighter and less cloyingly sweet than the classic fondant; and the finished candy gets a light sprinkling with fine and flaky sea salt, making a for a sweet treat that is perfectly balanced.

I'm pleased to have developed a recipe that comes out with professional and delicious results, and doesn't require the user to be an experienced candy-maker.  I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we have!

Sea Salt Caramel Pecan Roll
 Yield:  12 6" rolls
Active Time:  30 minutes
Total Time:  4 hours

12x12 pan (or rough equivalent)
Parchment paper
Plastic wrap or wax paper 
Ruler or measuring tape
Rolling pin

For the Caramel
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), plus 3 TB for buttering the pan)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
For the nut roll
  • 12 oz. Finely Chopped Pecan Pieces
  • Fine flake sea salt (my absolute favorite is actually a river salt:  Murray River Salt from Australia)
  • 60 (approx.) regular marshmallows
Prepare your pan by buttering the bottom and sides.  I use a 12x12 pan because it gives me the perfect height for the caramel (about 1/2").  Cut two pieces of parchment paper.  Line pan with the first piece.  Butter the parchment, then lay the second piece down in the opposite direction.  You'll want to cut the parchment long enough to overhang the sides of the pan.  This will make it easy to lift out later.  Butter bottom and sides of the parchment.

Step 1:  Place butter in a 2-3 quart bowl.  Microwave until just melted.  Add sugars, corn syrup and condensed milk.  Stir with a silicone spatula to combine. 

Note:  For detailed step-by-step photos, visit this post: 

Step 2:  Microwave for 3 minutes. 

Step 3:  Stir , then microwave for 3 minutes more.

Step 4:  Stir , then microwave for 3 minutes more.

Step 5:  Stir , then microwave for 3 minutes more.

Step 6:  Stir , then microwave for a final 3 minutes. (In my microwave, the caramel reaches 234 degrees F at the 15 minute mark).  Whisk in vanilla extract. 

Step 7:  Immediately pour the hot candy into the prepared pan.  Gently tap the pan on a flat surface to tap out any air bubbles.  Set aside in a cool place, elevated on a wire rack, to cool (approx. 3 hours, then chill in the refrigerator for another 1/2 hour). 

To make the pecan log:

Step 1: Lift caramel out of the pan by the parchment.  Use a buttered knife to cut the square in half.  Place one half back in the refrigerator.  Slice a 2" strip from the remaining section (pic 1).  

Step 2:  Place the strip on a piece of parchment (at least 8"x 6"). Cover with another piece of parchment (pic 2).  Use a rolling pin to roll the caramel to 5" wide (pic 3).

Step 3:  Place a row of marshmallows tightly together down the middle of the caramel.  Leave 1/2" on either side (pic 1).

Step 4:  Use the parchment to gently roll the caramel over the marshmallows and over the other end to seal the log (pic 2).

Step 5:  Fold the ends of the caramel inward to seal (pic 3).  Gently roll the log between the parchment to smooth out the main seam.

Step 6:  Repeat with remaining caramel.

Step 7:  Spread out the pecans on a large oblong tray.  Put a caramel roll on the pecans and gently roll and press to adhere (pic 1).  If caramel becomes too soft at any point, refrigerate.

Step 8:  On another tray or flat surface, sprinkle nut roll with salt, then gently roll to adhere (pic 2).

Step 9:  Wrap rolls tightly in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use (step 3)

Step 10:  Slice and enjoy.

Optional:  Wrap in wax paper for individual candies.

*NOTE: One important thing to note when making microwave caramel:  Microwaves vary in power, so your first batch of caramel may be experimental.  Fifteen minutes is the perfect amount of time for my microwave oven -- my caramel is a rich, golden brown and reaches 234 degrees on a candy thermometer.  If caramel does not hold its shape during the log rolling process, it was not cooked long enough.  If it is too hard to cut and will not roll, it was cooked too long.
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    This is simply AWESOME
    Pinning and planning to make it

  2. You are a confectioner extraordinaire!

  3. Fantastic photos! :) Looks like I could just reach into the screen and grab one... Wish I could!



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