Crunchy toasted pecans are chopped and smothered in smooth, creamy caramel then topped with a layer of chocolate. These chocolate pecan turtle clusters are always a hit and only take about an hour to make.
WHAT ARE CHOCOLATE TURTLES?
Turtles are a classic Christmas candy made of nuts, creamy caramel, and chocolate. I mean, how does it get any better than that?
You can find them at almost any store during the holidays in a wide range of varieties.
But as much as I love the store-bought turtles, and would never turn them down, nothing beats making them yourself.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
These chocolate turtle clusters come together quickly with just a few ingredients and the flavor combinations are endless.
Traditionally they are made with pecans, but you can make them with hazelnuts, walnuts, or almonds as well. And if you are allergic to nuts pretzels are a great option.
I’m actually not too picky when it comes to turtle chocolate candies. I will take them no matter what they are made with.
- Soft Caramels – Kraft caramels or milk caramels, sometimes called caramel. Be sure you are using soft caramels, not hard candy.
- Nuts – Generally pecans, but hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds work too. You can use pretzels if you need to keep these nut-free.
- Chocolate chips – Milk, semi-sweet or dark. You can also use chopped baking chocolate.
- Heavy Cream – This helps the caramel melt and creates a smooth, chewy caramel layer.
- Shortening – helps the chocolate melt and become shiny. You can use butter or coconut oil as well.
- ▢12 oz Pecan halves about 3 cups
- ▢12 oz Soft caramels Kraft caramel squares or Milk caramels (about 55)
- ▢4 Tbsp Heavy cream
- ▢8 oz Chocolate chips milk, dark or semi-sweet
- ▢2 tsp Vegetable shortening
- ▢1-2 tsp Coarse sea salt optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- With a sharp knife, roughly chop the pecans reserving some halves to top the turtles. No need to be precise with the chopping, we are just looking for small pieces.
- On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner, make little piles of chopped pecans (about 1 tablespoon each).
- Place the caramels and cream in a large, microwave-safe bowl or on the top of a simmering double boiler. Stir the caramels with the cream until they are melted and smooth. If using a microwave, use 20-second intervals and stir between each interval.
- While the caramel is warm, pour 1 tablespoon of caramel over each pecan pile.
- Place the tray in the freezer for a few minutes to set the caramel while you melt the chocolate.
- Place the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl or on top of a simmering double boiler and heat until melted and smooth. If using a microwave, use 10-second intervals stirring between each interval.
- Remove the turtles from the freezer and drizzle chocolate over each caramel cluster.
- Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle with sea salt or press a pecan half on the top.
- Place the turtles in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to set, then move to an airtight container for storage. Be sure to separate each layer of turtles with wax or parchment paper.
If you don’t have room to put the tray of turtles in the freezer between steps you can let them set on the counter, however, the freezer reduces the time between steps considerably. How long they take to set at room temperature will depend on the warmth of your home.If you live in a cold climate you can also cover and set on the porch for a few minutes. Notes about melting the caramel: As the caramels warm, stir them occasionally (or between each microwave interval). You will begin to notice the cream starts changing color as the caramels start to melt. Keep stirring. Eventually, the caramels will start to come together in a big sticky ball. As you continue to heat and stir you will notice that the ball starts to separate and get stringy, this is when you know they are almost done. Keep stirring until the caramel has completely melted and is smooth and creamy. Using 4 Tablespoons of heavy cream in the caramel will result in soft, gooey caramel. If you prefer a slightly stiffer, stickier texture you can reduce the cream to 2 or 3 tablespoons.
Calories: 131kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 106mg | Potassium: 72mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 41IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg