Adapted from Bonnie Welsh (Thanks, Bonnie!)
¾ cup pecan pieces
½ cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups half and half OR 1 cup half and half plus 1 cup cream
¾ cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp bourbon – this can be any bourbon you like
Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square (2-quart) glass baking dish with butter.
If you have pecan halves instead of pecan pieces, smash your pecans. I put the pecan halves in a plastic bag, push out most of the air, seal the bag, and then whack it with a rolling pin until you are happy with the size of your pieces. I like them quite crushed.
Spread pecan pieces on the bottom of the baking dish.
In 3-quart heavy saucepan, heat all ingredients to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil uncovered about 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until candy thermometer reads 240°F or until small amount of mixture dropped into cup of very cold water forms a firm ball that holds its shape until pressed.
Important information from the sad voice of experience – if you do not wait until your mixture gets hot enough, the caramel mixture will not set up well and you will have very tasty goo.
Remove caramel mixture from heat, stir in bourbon.
Immediately spread caramel / bourbon mixture in baking dish over the crushed pecans. Cool completely, at least 3 hours.
Cut into 8 rows by 8 rows to make 1-inch squares. Wrap candies individually in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Store in tightly covered container.
This recipe makes a great caramel without the bourbons or the pecans.
Experiment with different kinds of additions like vanilla, Southern Comfort or Rum instead of bourbon and walnuts or cashews instead of pecans.
You can also make the caramels with the booze, no nuts or nuts, no booze.
Very Nice Bourbons
Of course you can use any bourbon you’d like in the recipe and I recommend you buy a really nice bottle for the caramels and for sipping.
Woodford Reserve, Double Oaked
Four Roses, Single Barrel