1. Stir together first 3 ingredients and 2 cups half-and-half in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, 35 to 40 minutes or until rice is tender.
2. Whisk together egg yolks, 1/2 cup half-and-half, and sugar. Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot rice mixture into yolk mixture; stir yolk mixture into remaining hot mixture. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 160° and is thickened and bubbly (about 7 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
3. Stir together caramels and remaining 1/4 cup half-and-half in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth. Stir in pecans. Serve over rice pudding.