Making homemade chocolate turtles with pecans and a foolproof salted caramel is a simple introduction to candy-making at home. The turtles don’t have to look perfect and, in fact, their imperfections make them all the more appealing. Plus, who wouldn’t love these homemade turtles as a gift?
This recipe was taken (with permission) right out of the book Sally’s Candy Addiction. Sally McKenny, the author and blogger behind Sally’s Baking Addiction, created this fantastic book that’s a treasure trove of recipes for any candy lover. I found her caramel recipe incredibly approachable and perfect for these turtle candies.
How to Make Chocolate Turtles
The first step in making chocolate turtles is to make caramel. I’ve made – and burnt – many homemade caramel recipes over the years. Your choice of caramel is important; while my dulce de leche is fantastic and even easier to make than this caramel, it isn’t a true caramel and won’t set up properly for this recipe.
I’ve been using the caramel recipe found on my salted caramel gooey butter bars as my go-to recipe. It’s a caramel made with white sugar and no corn syrup.
This caramel from Sally (her “Caramel for Dipping” recipe) uses corn syrup. As a result, it ends up a little smoother than mine. It is also far less likely to burn. In addition to corn syrup, Sally’s caramel uses brown sugar.
The combination of different sweeteners gives Sally’s caramel a very different flavor profile than mine – not better or worse, just different. Try them both and see what you think. (Since it’s an easier recipe, I suggest that beginning bakers start with Sally’s first.)
To make sure that your turtle candy has a great shine, it’s important to properly temper your chocolate. I like to do this while the hot caramel cools off.
Assembling Turtle Candies
To assemble turtle candies, line up four pecan halves diagonally on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Repeat this until you’ve made 48 clusters, spacing each grouping an inch apart.
Spoon two teaspoons of caramel into the center of each cluster. Allow caramel to cool completely to room temperature.
Temper your chocolate and spoon one teaspoon of the tempered chocolate over the caramel.
Allow to cool completely, about 45 minutes, so everything sets up.
Store in an airtight container between layers of parchment paper or wax paper for up to two weeks.
If you like chocolate turtles, try my cream cheese cookies. I flavored them with caramel, chocolate, and pecans – just like chocolate turtles. They are so easy to make and so good to eat!
Homemade Chocolate Turtles
- 1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter slightly softened
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups pecan halves
- caramel from above
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate coarsely chopped
- In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat, combine cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt. Stir constantly as the butter melts and sugar dissolves. The mixture will be thick, cloudy, and dull-looking.
- Once the butter is completely melted, stop stirring and bring the mixture to a boil. Brush down the side of the pan with a water-moistened pastry brush.
- Cook until the caramel reaches 235 F (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer. When it hits that stage, begin stirring lightly, once every minute. If any candy splashes up the side of the pan, brush it off with a water-moistened pastry brush. The caramel will be begin to thicken. As soon as the caramel reaches 250 F (hard ball stage), remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the vanilla extract.
- While caramel cooks slightly, line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Arrange 48 clusters of four pecan halves each, leaving one inch of space between the clusters.
- Spoon two teaspoons of the caramel onto the center of each pecan cluster. Let the caramel cool completely to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- Temper the chocolate (see how to temper chocolate for instructions), and spoon one teaspoon of chocolate over the caramel on each turtle. Allow the chocolate to completely set at room temperature (about 45 minutes).