Growing up, it simply wouldn’t be Christmas without that orange and black striped box of Turtles chocolates. We would save it especially for Christmas Eve and devour them while opening presents after Mass under the twinkling glow of a Christmas Tree. Over the years the branding changed, the Turtles got smaller, and you got less and less in a box.
This year, I set out to make my own Turtles candy recipe, and it was surprisingly easy. Dare I say, the delicious homemade caramel filling might be better than the original!
Before you skip to the end and get the recipe, read through this post for how to get them right, because although they’re easy, there is definitely room for error. I’ll also talk about some substitutions you can make and ones that will ruin the recipe.
How to Make Homemade Turtles Candy
Start by setting out your pecans in small clusters on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Then add the caramel ingredients in a sauce pan. This is where things can go wrong. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, start a timer for exactly 7 minutes.
Stir constantly. Do not take breaks, do not leave the pot, do not even look away from your stovetop. If you do, the mixture will burn. If you undercook it, the caramel will be too gooey. If you overcook it, the caramel will be too hard. A hair over 10 minutes and the recipe is ruined.
If I’ve made you nervous, take the caramel off the stove at 6 minutes and 30 seconds.
Once the time is up, remove from heat and spoon the caramel over the pecan clusters. If the caramel gets too stiff and difficult to work with, put it back on the burner for a few seconds to loosen it up again. (This is why you can not go to 10 minutes–the first few Turtles you make will be fine and a little hard, but any that you make after reheating the caramel will be awful.)
Related: Easy No Fail Fudge, the Best Shortbread, and a new twist on Butter Tarts.
Put the pan of half-done Turtles in the freezer, or outside (if it’s below freezing and you have no freezer space) to freeze. They will be way easier to work with for the next step. 30 minutes should be fine.
Then it’s time to melt the chocolate. I melt mine in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, and generally never need more than 90 seconds. Do not melt the chocolate for 90 seconds all at once. It is better to have a few slightly unmelted bits and stir them into melting, than to put them back in the microwave and over cook them. If you overcook the chocolate in the microwave, it will get all clumpy and is ruined.
Once the chocolate is melted, dip the frozen Turtles, one at a time, into the chocolate and back onto a non-stick surface. Let the chocolate dry completely and enjoy!
Do Turtles Freeze Well?
Yes. You can make them ahead and store them in the freezer until you need them.
Substitutions for homemade Turtles Candy
As with most candy making, it’s not really wise to make a lot of substitutions. However, I know you’re going to do it, so here’s what will work and what doesn’t. The one substitution you can’t make, is to use margarine instead of butter. Your caramel will not work as well.
If you chose to use melting chocolate (not baking chocolate or chocolate chips) you may need a little more coconut oil if you use white ones, and you might not need any oil at all if you use chocolate or dark chocolate ones. If you want to make a white chocolate variation, you will need to use more oil, because the white chocolate is thicker, more difficult to melt and work with.
Finally, pecans are expensive–at least where I live. If pecans are not in the budget, you can use walnuts instead with little difference in taste.
- 200 grams pecans
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (11oz)
- 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
- Place pecans in 40 small clusters, approximately 4 pecan halves in a cluster, on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper or a silicon mat.
- Melt caramel ingredients in a saucepan over medium high heat, stirring constantly the entire time. Once the caramel starts boiling, stir for exactly 7 minutes. Do not go over 7 minutes.
- Spoon caramel mixture over pecan clusters.
- Freeze for approximately 30 minutes.
- Melt chocolate and coconut oil. If using the microwave instead of a double boiler, warm for no more than 30 seconds at a time, for no more than 90 seconds.
- Dunk clusters in the chocolate, covering completely and dripping off excess chocolate. Place back on the cookie sheet.
- Let chocolate dry completely, or freeze again to speed up the process.
Please read the blog notes for important notes about possible mistakes you might make and substitutions.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 123Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 14mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 13gProtein: 1g
Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots. She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden. She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.