This is an Emeril Lagasse recipe, and the only change I made was to drizzle the chews with chocolate rather than coating them. (Our taste-testing panel determined that too much chocolate overwhelms the taste of the caramels.)
On a convenience note, Mauna Loa sells bags of prechopped macadamias, which are a girl's best friend. Keep an eye on the nuts when you toast them; I put mine in for 6 minutes, and they still got a bit brown.
I highly recommend a candy thermometer for this recipe. (I’m too impatient to drop the candy in a glass of water to test it. My father would be so disappointed.) Invest in a decent candy thermometer; the $2 or $3 versions are baiscally a single-use item. (It’s never a good thing when you pull a thermometer out of the drawer and it already reads 130 degrees.) Go to a kitchen supply store and invest in a decent clip-on candy thermometer; it shouldn’t set you back more than $10 or $12. Then, take care of it. Clean it as soon as you can when you’ve finished with it, and avoid putting it in the dishwasher. (I think this has been my primary downfall.) And then, like me, dream of the day when you rise to the ranks of digital thermometer ownership.
But back to the food. I’m not a huge caramel person, but the caramel in this recipe is so good that I licked the pan. When it was still hot. If you’re not a chocolate person, just make the macadamia caramels. If you’re not a macadamia person, either, just make the caramel. It’s. That. Yummy.
Macadamia Nut Chews
Makes about 60
1 tsp. butter
4 oz. macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
2 c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
¼ c. light corn syrup
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 c. heavy cream, at room temperature
1 c. milk chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line an 8x8 square pan with aluminum foil, allowing the foil to hang over the edges. Grease the pan with 1 tsp. butter.
3. Place nuts on a small baking sheet and put in oven. Toast until golden brown, about 6 minutes. (You can shake the pan to more evenly toast them. I didn’t use a pan with sides, though, so this would have been a mess.) Remove from oven and cool. Sprinkle over bottom of prepared pan.
4. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Combine the sugars, corn syrup, salt, vanilla, butter, and cream. Stir constantly until fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Raise heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat again to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 254 degrees (hardball stage). (This will take about 15 minutes.)
5. Pour caramel over nuts. Place pan in a draft-free area and cool completely. (It’s fun to watch the macadamias pop up into the caramel. I’m easily amused.)
6. Turn caramel onto cutting board and cut in 1” squares.
7. In a small bowl, melt chips. Put into a small resealable bag and cut the edge of one corner. Use as a piping bag to drizzle melted chips over chews.
Heh. I'm in my jammies.
8. Lay on wax paper until chocolate sets.
Macadamia chews as far as the eye can see!
9. Store in an airtight container. The recipe says don’t refrigerate; I’m guessing they harden. I might refrigerate one just to see what happens. I’m daring that way.
Update: I like the refrigerated version better. However, the "airtight" thing is key. If you move the chews from your functional Tupperware to your lovely, non-airtight candy tins, you might end up with macadamia nut bars rather than macadamia nut chews. You've been warned.