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Caramel Turtles make sweet homemade gifts for anyone on your list

Christmas is fast approaching, which fills me with excitement and joy.

I love to watch my kids open their advent calendar windows each morning. I love the smell of freshly cut evergreens around my house, and I love to make and eat all the treats that are customary in my family around the holidays.

In the next few weeks, we will busily make many homemade kitchen gifts. Rather than buy presents for everyone on our list, we make things.

We started with Caramel Turtles. It took little encouragement to get my kids into the kitchen to make these. They are so good it is plain to see we will need to make several batches in order to get enough to friends and family.

We have eaten a large percentage of them already. How could we not pecans, caramel and chocolate.

We lined a couple of baking sheets with parchment, and the kids arranged five pecans for each candy. They shaped them so once the caramel was poured, the pecans would look like four feet sticking out.

I made the caramel, because candy-making is so hot and can really burn badly. I am not ready for my children to help with that, though Emma, 11, has assisted with a couple of candy projects in the past. She is very cautious.

Molly, 9, put some chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler and got that going, while Clay, 8, watched the pot of dangerously hot sugar boil away he is always up for a walk on the wild side.

Once the caramel was cooked to the appropriate temperature, I let it cool so the kids could help make the candies. This was great because it gave the caramel a chance to thicken and not spread as much as it would have had I immediately poured it right over the pecans.

The kids used a large spoon and poured a glob of caramel over the nuts, keeping the feet visible. Once the caramel was cool, the kids used another spoon to drizzle some chocolate over the caramel. We did not go too heavy on the chocolate if you want more, make a whole layer.

Let them cool completely, which may be difficult to do when they look so good.

It goes without saying that these were a big hit. We are stockpiling, keeping them in the fridge until we have enough to make a few packages as gifts.

Rather than buying Grandma or your neighbor a scarf, get your kids to help make some homemade treats for holiday gifts. This recipe is sure to please any sweet-tooth on your list.

mpoitras@discoveryspeed.com. Margery Reed Poitras is a former professional chef who now cooks for her kids and occasionally for the more mature palate.

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