Welcome to the second installment of Spring Sips! I’m posting a new cocktail recipe every Tuesday this month. Today’s choice is a fun one: it’s sweet, and strong, and definitely a treat. It’s based on an old-fashioned candy, and uses some fun ingredients like homemade pecan simple syrup and caramel. Get ready for these Chocolate Turtle Martinis!
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What You Need to Get Started
- From the Bar: Bourbon (I like Maker’s Mark), Cask & Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey*, Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur, Chocolate Bitters
- Pantry: Pecans, Sugar
- Fridge: Heavy cream, Butter, Egg white
- Spice Cabinet: Cinnamon sticks, Whole cloves, Salt
- Equipment: Saucepans, Silicone spatulas, Mesh strainer, Measuring shot glass, Cocktail shaker, Egg separator, Martini glasses, Mason jars, Demitasse spoons, Instant-read thermometer, Marble rolling pin
*Cask & Crew may have limited distribution. If you are not able to get this specific brand, you can replace with a caramel whiskey of your choice.
Let’s Make Pecan Simple Syrup & Caramel
If you are making both of these from scratch, you can prepare them a few days in advance, and store in the fridge. If you want to make this recipe easier, I suggest using a store-bought caramel, and still making the infused simple syrup.
Start by combining water and sugar in a small saucepan. You’ll heat it slowly, over medium low, stirring until the sugar dissolves and it becomes clear. If you stopped here, you’d have basic simple syrup.
To add some extra flavor, you will add in the cinnamon stick, cloves, and chopped pecans. Bring the whole mixture to a boil, and then turn off the heat. Let those flavors infuse for at least an hour in the pot.
Once it’s ready, pour the mixture through a mesh strainer twice, and then store in a mason jar in the fridge. You can use it immediately or store for up to a week. I like to add it to my coffee in the morning for a little something fun.
Don’t toss those pecans you just strained out either! Remove the cinnamon and cloves, and then spread the nuts on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place in the oven at the lowest setting for a few hours, just to dry them out. When they are done, you’ll have yummy sugar roasted nuts to use as a garnish and snack on!
While the syrup is resting, you can make the caramel. If you’ve never made caramel from scratch before, you will definitely want to use a thermometer. I’ve made it many times, and I still burn it when I try to go by color!
In a medium saucepan, spread out the sugar and then coat with the water so there are no dry spots. You start heating it slowly, so the sugar can dissolve. Then as it starts to cook longer, you’ll see the color start to change. This is when you need the thermometer. Check the temperature regularly, but it should be about 7-10 minutes before it hits 325F. Then turn off the heat.
Next, you’ll add in heavy cream. This can splatter and seize up, but it’s okay. Just be careful when adding it, since caramel is very hot. If you ever get molten sugar or caramel on your fingers while cooking it, don’t put your finger in your mouth! It’s a quick way to get some really bad burns.
Add in the butter, and stir everything until it’s smooth and the butter is melted. You may need to turn the heat back on low to help the butter melt, especially if you use a gas stove that cools quickly. Once combined, stir in the salt and pour into a mason jar.
Let the caramel cool to room temperature before sealing the jar and putting it in the fridge. You can store this for about a week, and use the extra as ice cream topping or just eat it with a spoon.
How to Make Chocolate Turtle Martinis
Before you mix up the cocktails, you’ll need to rim the glasses. For these, we are using the caramel and dried nuts from the simple syrup. Take some of the dried nuts and place in a plastic bag. Use a heavy marble rolling pin to crush these and then spread them on a saucer.
If the caramel has been in the fridge, you’ll need to soften it in the microwave. Then spread it on the rims of two martini glasses. Dip the glasses with the warm caramel into the nuts, and turn the glass to make them stick. Use your fingers to press in any nuts that are jumping off. The caramel will solidify slightly as it cools, and hold them in place.
To make the cocktails, you’ll notice there’s a raw egg white in this recipe. While it’s mostly considered safe to use these in drinks, I totally understand if you’d want to skip it. The egg white helps make the drink frothy and smooth, but doesn’t change the flavor.
In your cocktail shaker, combine all the alcohol, the egg white, and simple syrup together. Shake it without ice first. This is called dry shaking, and it helps the egg to froth up and combine with the other ingredients. If you’re not using the egg, you can skip this step.
Then add ice to the shaker, and shake it up vigorously. After about twenty seconds, the metal will start to feel almost too cold to handle, and that’s how you know it’s ready. Pour through the strainer into the glasses, and be sure to shake out every last drop.
To garnish, add a few drops of bitters to each glass. Then take a demitasse spoon, dip it in caramel and then the crushed pecans, and add to the glass. This adds a fun extra sweetness, and is a great tool for scooping the caramel off the rim. It’s an interactive drink!
If you are looking for a decadent dessert cocktail that’s sure to impress, you need to try this Chocolate Turtle Martini!
How to Serve
I’m a firm believer that it’s never too early in the day for a cocktail, so you can definitely enjoy this drink as part of breakfast or brunch. It’s also great as a dessert or to complement something sweet. How versatile!
Try pairing it with bananas foster stuffed french toast, to accentuate the caramel flavor. If you’d rather focus on the nuts, try cinnamon praline stuffed challah. And for my fellow chocolate lovers, you know this would go perfectly with rocky road black bean brownies.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
- Egg yolk: Since this recipe uses just the egg white, you’ll have a spare yolk. Use it to make a pair of mini skillet cookies!
- Bourbon: There are plenty of other cocktails that use bourbon, like an amaretto old fashioned or bourbon mint lemonade. You can also use it to make a weeknight apple crisp.
- Caramel Sauce: Eat this with a spoon, or add it to either banana boat ice cream sundaes or decaf coffee ice cream.
Chocolate Turtle Martini with Pecan and Caramel
Pecan Simple Syrup
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 Cup Water
- 1/4 Cup Pecans roughly chopped
- 1/21 Cinnamon Stick
- 4 Whole Cloves
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 1/4 tsp Salt
Chocolate Turtle Martinis
- 2 Oz Bourbon
- 2 Oz Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur
- 1 Oz Cask & Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey
- 1 Egg White
- 1 Oz Pecan Simple Syrup
- 2 Dashes Chocolate Bitters
Make Pecan Simple Syrup
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, and pecans and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, and let sit for at least an hour.
- Strain twice through a mesh strainer, and store in a 16oz mason jar in the fridge for up to a week.
- Spread the filtered out pecans (remove the cinnamon and cloves) on a foil-lined baking sheet, and dry in the oven on the lowest setting (mine was 170F) for about 4 hours. Once dry, add the nuts to a plastic bag and crush with a heavy rolling pin.
- In a medium saucepan, add the sugar and shake to spread it out in an even layer. Add the water, and saturate the sugar. Heat on medium-low, swirling the pan occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.
- Turn the heat to medium, and continue cooking 7-10 minutes, until it becomes a golden color, and an instant-read thermometer reads 325F.
- Turn off the heat and add in the cream. The caramel may seize and splatter, so be careful! Add the butter and stir to combine and melt the butter. If needed, add a little bit more heat (especially if you are using a gas stove). Add in the salt and stir.
- Transfer to a mason jar and let cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Reheat in the microwave to soften.
Chocolate Turtle Martinis
- Spread the dried nuts on a small saucer. Use a spoon or knife to coat the rims of two martini glasses with warmed caramel, and then dip into the nuts, turning glass and pressing the nuts so they stick to the caramel.
- In a cocktail shaker, combine the whiskeys, chocolate liqueur, pecan simple syrup, and egg white. Shake without ice until frothy, about 20 seconds. Then add ice and shake for an additional 20 seconds, until cold.
- Strain into the rimmed martini glasses. Add two shakes of chocolate bitters on top of each.
- Dip a demitasse spoon in caramel and then nuts, and place into each glass as a garnish.
- The pecan simple syrup adds a nutty flavor, but if you prefer you can use plain simple syrup.
- If you don't want to make the caramel from scratch, you can use your favorite caramel sauce or ice cream topping.
- If the flavored whiskey isn't available, replace with an additional 1/2 oz bourbon and 1/2 oz pecan simple syrup.
- These are shaken to serve, and you can make two at once in a standard cocktail shaker. You can garnish the glasses ahead of time, and mix more in batches of two.
- If you are concerned, leave out the egg white. It adds a smooth and frothy texture, but will not change the flavor. If you leave it out, you can skip the first shaking step, and immediately shake with ice.
- The spoon with caramel adds a little bit of extra sweetness, but is entirely optional.
- You will have leftover simple syrup, pecans, and caramel, which you can use to add to coffee, cookie dough, or ice cream, respectively.