Making Turtles Out of Caramels: A Story of Delicious Disaster

In a month focused on consciously infusing joy into each day I have found it is important to find it even in missteps. This year I prepared for Christmas. All presents were purchased and wrapped early, I decorated, and then I baked.

It was the baking that could have been my unraveling. I set out to make these bourbon cider caramels dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. The recipe sounded so easy. I had most of the ingredients on hand already. I was excited to make these delicious treats for friends and family. I even purchased a candy thermometer to all but guarantee success. All signs pointed that way, until I actually started to bake.

For some reason my caramel would not harden. It remained what I can only equate to caramel soup for the better part of 48 hours. Normally, this would drive me NUTS. This time, it drove to me think outside the box.

While watching my umpteenth Holiday movie of the season I undertook the task of coating these little disasters in chocolate. The first one partially maintained its square appearanceĀ  giving me a glimmer of hope that was crushed by the ginormous chocolatey puddle the second and third created. Yet, they were actually covered in chocolate. The silver lining to my now elbow deep in chocolate sauce mess was that the caramel and coating had not swirled but instead stayed in two distinct layers. It was at this point that my brother’s words from a few days earlier came to mind. My family is dessert obsessed. My great grandmother was known to enjoy dessert at every meal and we take that very seriously. So when I mentioned I was attempting these tasty treats I said “I’ll bring them over if I think they are good” to which he responded that I should bring them over either way. It made me laugh at the ridiculous situation I had been dwelling on. Just because I was not happy with the result doesn’t mean I did not make something good. While I had not made what I set out to I realized I had stumbled upon another possibility in the process and that is how caramel bites became turtles.

Now cautiously optimistic I placed these newly branded bites in the fridge to harden and twenty minutes later taste tested. While I am a firm believer that chocolate can make almost anything better it actually did not have much work to do here. The cider and bourbon flavors were evident and delicious with the chocolate and flaky sea salt compliment. Surprisingly, the gooey center was a welcome surprise when biting into the hardened chocolate outside.

While I will absolutely work on the original recipe until I can get it right I left this experience feeling proud of my weird little desserts instead of annoyed at myself for failure. I believed in myself and chose a change in perspective to throwing in the towel and I feel like that is something I have been working on all year. Finding joy and growth in the little moments is exactly what this month is about.

-Katie

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