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Copycat Recipe for Polar Bear Paws. Soft and chewy caramel clusters filled with peanuts and dipped in white chocolate have the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and crunchy.
See’s Polar Bear Paws are super convenient, but at over $25/pound in 2019, not very economical. Instead, you make a copycat version of this classic white chocolate-covered caramel and peanut candy in your own kitchen. Bag it up for the perfect hostess or neighbor holiday gift for way less.
This recipe will make 2 pounds of this candy! I usually get about 28 to 30 turtle sized candies from one recipe. It’s easily doubled too.
You’ll need 11 to 12 ounces of caramels. You can use caramel bits, caramel squares, or homemade caramel candy. The homemade ones take a bit of time to make so I save those for gift giving! Using store-bought caramels make this a quick and easy recipe.
1 tablespoon of butter is needed. I use salted butter in this recipe, actually, 99% of my recipes use salted butter. You can substitute unsalted butter is that’s what you have. There will be plenty of salt in the peanuts.
3 tablespoons of heavy cream are added to make the caramel mixture smoother. If you can’t find anything labeled as heavy cream in the store, look for heavy whipping cream, that’s what it’s called in my area of the world. Heavy whipping cream adds an extra bit of richness to the caramel. I have substituted half and half before and it was fine. I’ve never tried milk so I can’t confirm or deny that it works.
When using store-bought caramels like Kraft, add a teaspoon of vanilla. This step isn’t necessary, but it will add an extra depth of flavor. Besides, you’re probably making these as holiday candy and you want it to taste the best it can.
1 cup of nuts are called for. You can use roasted peanuts in this recipe if you want too. I find them to be a bit too salty so I use cocktail peanuts. Using this recipe you will get the perfect balance of caramel to peanuts but if you really like nuts and want to add more you can, up to an extra 1/4 cup. I wouldn’t do much more than that because it will turn into a hard clump of peanuts that’s hard to bite into.
Cashews or pecans can be used as a peanut substitute. If you used unsalted butter with one of these nuts, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to balance out the sweetness.
You’ll need 12 to 20 ounces of melted white chocolate. I give such a huge range because the amount of chocolate you end up using is going to depend on how hot the chocolate is and how heavy-handed you are. Start with 12 ounces and you can always melt more later.
I use almond bark because it is easy to work with and cheaper than white chocolate. You can use white chocolate chips or white melting wafers without a problem. If you feel like your chocolate coating is too thick, you can thin it out with 1 teaspoon or two of coconut oil, shortening, or paraffin wax. Just make sure that any of these additions are thoroughly melted and mixed in.
MAKING THE CANDY
Melting the caramel can be done a microwave following the caramel manufacturer’s directions. Caramel bits will take less time than square caramels. Add the butter, heavy cream, and vanilla (if using) during the process.
I use the stovetop set to melt. I combine the caramels, heavy cream, butter, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Stir it frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan or scorching. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
Once everything has melted, add the peanuts and stir to combine. It will look like you don’t have enough peanuts, but the caramel will thicken up as it cools.
Set the pan aside to cool for 15 to 30 minutes. Scoop the caramel and peanut mixture onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, wax paper, non-stick foil, or a silicone baking mat.
Place the candy into a refrigerator or freezer until set. It will be a struggle to get the caramel off of any surface since it’s soft. Ask me how I know?
Melt the coating as directed on the package. Dip the candy in the melted coating, allow excess to drip back into the melted coating. I use a double boiler, really a smaller pan set inside of the next larger size pan filled about halfway with simmering water. I leave the almond bark in this setup to keep the chocolate from getting too thick as I dip cold caramel pieces into it.
Set the chocolate dipped caramels back onto the covered baking sheet and allow the chocolate to harden before packaging.
HOW TO STORE COPYCAT POLAR BEAR PAWS
Once your candy has completely hardened it can be stored at room temperature covered or uncovered for up to a month. At least that’s as long as they last at my house before they are devoured.
You can store them in a freezer for up to 3 months, but like all other chocolate candies the chocolate may change in color and texture when frozen.
MORE HOMEMADE CANDY RECIPES
Copycat Polar Bear Paws Recipe
- 11 ounces caramels
- 3 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon butter salted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup salted cocktail peanuts
- 12 ounces almond bark
- Combine caramels [11 ounces], heavy cream [3 tablespoons], and butter [1 tablespoon] in a small saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Once the caramels have melted, add the peanuts and stir to combine.
- Add the vanilla [1 teaspoon].
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Prepare a baking sheet by covering with wax paper, nonstick foil or parchment paper.
- Scoop the mixture out into 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon mounds 2 inches apart. They will spread out as they cool.
- Place in a refrigerator or freezer until set, 10 to 20 minutes.
- Melt the almond bark according to the package directions.
- Cover the caramel clusters completely with coating, allow the excess to drip off, set back onto the prepared surface and allow to cool until the coating is completely set.