This recipe is adapted from our island guide's amazing, chemistry-laden recipe for buttercrunch.  We had the most amazing opportunity to stay on a private island in almost-Canada this fall.  Most of the 200 or so people who are allowed on the island every year are there as artists.  We were there as workers, which I'd much prefer.  It almost seems a waste to just sit on your butt in a place like that- everything else is moving and so full of life, I think you need to move, too if you really want to experience it.

Mornings were spent waking up in turn-of-the-century cabins filled with amazing and rare books.  A quick hike in the dim orange light of dawn down the hill led to the Wannigan- an old cook's boat that hails from the logging days of the river.  Long since out of commission and up on blocks, the boat is still home to a tiny kitchen, a wood stove, and a long table.  A quick check to see if coffee is ready, then you're on your way to the end of the island, steaming mug in hand, to hop in a canoe to catch the first glowing rays of sun from the middle of the river.

After a communal breakfast and three or four pots of coffee later, our ragtag work crew was out scouting the islands on a holey pontoon boat that defied the laws of physics and somehow stayed above the water- planning the day's work.  We'd spend the day ripping out invasive species, hauling logs, felling trees, and moving junk.  Dirty, tired, and happy, we'd use our last few hours of sunlight to gather on one of the islands tiny beaches and test our mettle by jumping into the icy water to rinse off the dirt of the island.  Once our toes were sufficiently numb, which only takes a few minutes in 50'F water, we'd scramble out and amble up to the warm Wannigan for another communal meal.

After the meal, though, the stories start flowing.  Gathered around the long table that once held the plates and heard the stories of such amazing men as Ernest Oberholtzer and his friends, we tell our own stories, but mostly listen to the stories of the island caretakers.  They've lived much more amazing lives than we ever will- fearlessly encountering bears, winning canoeing races, and more life tips than you can imagine.  All of this is usually supplemented with a bag of this amazing buttercrunch.  Whether plain or crumbled up on ice cream, every time I eat it, I'm reminded of our amazing adventure on a magical island in almost-Canada.


1 c. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 T. light corn syrup
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

In a large saucepan, melt the butter, then stir in the sugar, salt, and corn syrup.  Over medium-high heat, stir this mixture until it boils.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer without stirring for 10-12 minutes.  The mixture will start to become golden and caramel colored, this is when you need to be checking the temperature.  Once it reaches 300'F or hard-crack stage, remove it from the heat and stir in the pecans.

Pour into a greased 9" square baking pan, then sprinkle with the chocolate chips.  After a few minutes, the chocolate chips will have melted- spread them with a spatula and allow the mixture to cool before removing from the pan and breaking apart.

 Dark Chocolate Pecan Buttercrunch- Like a glorified Heath Bar!  Makes a great DIY Christmas gift!

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