Chocolate, caramel, pecans… each delicious on their own, but even better together!
These Homemade Pecan Turtles are surprisingly easy to make are so perfect to share around the holidays! Just be sure to keep a few for yourself! =)
This recipe takes a bit of a shortcut by starting with store bought caramels… but that can be our little secret!
The finished turtles are a perfect combination of textures and flavors… crunchy, chewy, sweet… and bit of sea salt rounds everything out.
Your friends and family will love these cute and delicious little treats!
Let’s get started!
Gather your ingredients (listed in the recipe below).
Spoon a small amount of chocolate onto a parchment paper lined, or Silpat lined baking sheet (pictured below).
Arrange pecan halves like a flower, or to create the head and four legs of a turtle.
Spoon caramel into the center of the pecans.
Add chocolate on top, spreading with the back of a spoon as needed. Add a modest sprinkling of sea salt.
For the most professional results, and for the longest shelf life, I recommend tempering the chocolate. I’ve been intimidated for years by the idea of tempering chocolate, because it is quite a precise process. I’ve made these pecan turtles many times in years past, but this is the first time I attempted to properly temper the chocolate. The extra time was well worth it, and I loved the shiny, professional quality of the finished turtles. If you’re going to try tempering chocolate I highly recommend a precise thermometer, such as a Thermapen. Additionally, I found the tutorials by David Lebovitz and Handle the Heat very helpful.
How to Make Pecan Turtles
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 11 oz bag of wrapped caramels
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream milk or water may be used
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips 1 bag
- sea salt Fleur de sel or similar if available
- Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 375*F about 5 minutes, until warm and fragrant. Cool and set aside.
- Unwrap caramels and place caramels, cream and vanilla in the top of a double boiler and heat until the caramels have melted (this will take a while). Stir as needed.
- While the caramel melts, heat the chocolate chips in another double boiler, or in the microwave at 50% power in 30 second intervals. Stir between intervals and stop cooking when the chips have almost melted, but not fully. Be careful not to over heat the chocolate, it can easily burn. Stir chips until smooth and fully melted.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner. Spoon a small amount of chocolate onto the baking sheet, using the back of the spoon to smooth it into a small circle (about 2" diameter). After you've made 3-4 circles, arrange 5 pecan halves on to of chocolate, creating the "turtle" head and four legs (as pictured), or a flower. Continue making circles of chocolate, then adding pecans until the baking sheet is full (I usually fit 6-10 on a baking sheet). Set entire baking sheet in the fridge for a few minutes, until the chocolate has set up a bit.
- Once the chocolate has set, (remove from fridge) and add about a teaspoon or two of melted caramel onto the center of the pecans (as pictured). The caramel should be just melted enough that it will fall off a spoon, but not so liquid that it just rolls right off the pecans into a puddle. If the caramel is too thin, remove from heat and allow to cool just a bit. Once caramel has been added to each turtle, place baking sheet back into the fridge for a few minutes.
- When the caramel has set up just a bit, spoon a bit of chocolate on top, covering as much of the caramel as possible. If desired, add a bit of fleur de sel sea salt on top.
- Place turtles back in the fridge for just a few minutes to set up.
- When fully cool and set, remove from baking sheet and store in an airtight container at room temperature. See notes below about shelf life.
Libby Workman says
This is the best recipe and the best procedure I have found on the internet. I have one improvement to recommend : eliminate much of the mess and imprecision by dropping both the caramels and the chocolate morsels separately of course (I used dark chocolate bits) into gallon-sized FREEZER ziplock bags. You can then float each in a saucepot of simmering water. I found that adding the cream/vanilla extract, and the bit of coconut oil was easy. Even tempering the chocolate (I used Epicurious’ method) was simplified. I found that using a ThermoPro by pressing it outside the bag got accurate readings; I tried it both ways and even could wipe the chocolate from inside the bag to clean the probe. Everything worked better using this method.
It was easy to remove the bag from the simmering water, place it carefully on a pad of folded kitchen towels and gently pat the water off and also gently knead the unmelted bits inside to mix. Then cut a small corner piece off to use as a very good applicator.
Because a tear or leak in the bag would have been disastrous, I was very gentle with each bag, but all went amazingly well. I do recommend this method. No messy pots to clean up, no spoon-dribbled mess either. If you have a good large plastic bench scraper (Amazon) you can scrape it across the bag and coax the contents toward the snipped corner. Or even use your hands or another kitchen towel to do this. I sealed the bag when floating in the hot water, and opened it maybe an inch when applying the contents to the pecans. Even the small amount left afterward is safely stored inside the freezer bag. Take your time and be gentle and you will be so pleased. And use freezer bags you trust. Flat, not boxy on the bottom.
I’ve made these twice now for my husband. Once for our anniversary and again for his birthday. He loves them, never to buy store turtles again. And they were quite easy to make (I didn’t temper chocolate, just watched it close). I made a half batch each time to not have too many. Thanks for the great recipe.
Yay! So glad you’re enjoying the recipe! Thanks so much for the sweet note!