Ellen - here's how Adam does his turtles. He loosely uses a recipe from a chocolate cookbook he bought me years ago.
5 2/3 cups heavy cream
3 3/4 cups light corn syrup
7 1/2 Tbs. salted butter
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbs. vanilla extract
(The above proportions give a smooth non-sticky caramel, easy to handle. Adam increased the fat content from the original for this purpose, and increased the amount of brown sugar to give a darker caramel color.)
In a heavy saucepan, stir cream, syrup, butter, sugars and salt. Cook over med. heat, stirring until sugars dissolve and butter is melted, about 3 minutes. Bring to boil and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches about 245 degrees, or close to hard-ball stage. Adam uses the ice-water test at the final stages, dropping a bit in a small bowl of ice water and feeling the consistency. It takes about an hour to cook this caramel, so don't be in a hurry!
Once cooked, pour unsalted peanuts onto a large cookie sheet, pour caramel sauce over peanuts, and work into the peanuts. When it's cool enough, work the caramels into small discs. It will be hot to your hands. Freeze them on cookie sheets until they are frozen hard. Freezing them allows you to use pure chocolate (no paraffin) , and you won't have to temper your chocolate. This makes for delicious turtles.
1 lb. milk chocolate to 1 lb. semi-sweet chocolate- this is the proportion.
Melt in double-boiler. If you can smell the chocolate, it's too hot and you're scorching your chocolate. He uses 4 1/2 lbs. of chocolate total, to the above recipe amount of caramel.
Dip frozen caramel discs into chocolate. Place on cookie sheets (on parchment paper is best) and freeze again. This sets the chocolate. After they are frozen well, place them in plastic food bags and keep in freezer. They are great just eaten straight from the freezer, but you can put them into tins and give away too.
The above recipe will yield about 120 caramels, depending on the size of your discs.