OK, so this may not be a cookie recipe, but I just had to include these tasty sweets in my #12DaysOfChristmas series! You may know these caramely, choclatey and crunchy candies as Sweet Georgia Browns or Pecan Clusters, but I have always recognized these candies as Turtles.
You often see these candies come out around the holiday season. They come packaged in their tall, iconic orange and white striped box. On the front of the box is their little mascot– a turtle dressed to the nines in a tuxedo, top hat, cane and monocle. Super fancy, right? While these candies are easy to buy (and taste delicious) I have come up with a homemade version for all the adventurous cooks out there in my recipe for Homemade Chocolate Turtles!
A Complex Recipe…But It’s Totally Worth It!
I have to warn you, this is not an easy recipe to make whenever you feel like it. Don’t decide to make these on a whim on a weeknight or if you have some place to be in the next 2-3 hours. This requires some planning, concentration, and time. Melting the chocolate and toasting the pecans is the easiest part of the recipe, but the challenge comes in making… the caramel. Yes, the caramel is made from scratch! Additionally, you will need the right equipment to make this recipe. This includes a large pot and, most importantly, a candy thermometer. You need to be exact with your caramel temperatures in this recipe so a candy thermometer is imperative!
A Great Caramel Recipe
I have tried this caramel recipe (included in my Homemade Chocolate Turtles recipe) multiple times. There were a batches of burnt caramel, runny caramel, hard caramel and any type in between. Let’s just say after a few tears (and almost having to buy a new pot) my caramel recipe has been perfected! You can even use this recipe to make your own homemade caramels (which I strongly recommend sprinkling with sea salt!).
I have to say that even though this recipe is a lot of work, it is fun to make and the candies taste delicious. Moreover, you can use your favourite type of chocolate in this recipe (mine is Milk Chocolate Ghirardelli)!
So, if you are feeling ambitious this holiday season, try making these Homemade Chocolate Turtles. Trust me, it is worth all the effort.
Get the Recipe!
Homemade Chocolate Turtles
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 3 cups Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips or your favourite chocolate chips
- 1 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
- 1/4 cup white corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Toasting the Pecans:
- Begin by toasting the pecans. Add the pecans to a dry pan over medium-high heat. Cook the pecans, turning every 60 seconds or so until the pecans have become toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the warm pecans (in equal portions) onto two parchment-lined baking trays. Begin to group 3-4 pecans together into clusters and space each cluster about 1 inch apart. Once all the pecans have been arranged, set the baking trays aside.
- Next, melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler, stirring every few minutes or so. Once the chocolate has melted remove the pot from the heat, but leave the chocolate over the double boiler to stay warm.
Making the Caramel:
- Next, make the caramel. Add the whipping cream and salted butter to a sauce pot and heat until it just begins to simmer. Do not boil. Once it is warm, remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a large pot (>4 quarts), add the sugar, corn syrup and water. Use a whisk to gently mix to combine. The mixture will feel grainy, but that is OK. Once combined, dip a pastry brush in a some water and brush down the sides of the pot so that there are no sugar crystals left on the sides of the pot. Do not stir the caramel until the next stage.
- Place the pot over medium-high heat and insert a candy thermometer into the pot. Make sure that the tip of the thermometer is submerged in the sugar mixture or else you won't get a proper temperature reading. Let the sugar mixture come to a boil (without stirring). You will begin to see the mixture bubble after a few minutes and the mixture will turn from a clear colour to a toasty golden brown colour.
- Once the sugar mixtures reaches 325 degrees F, remove the pot from the heat. Pour the warm cream and butter mixture into the sugar mixture. The caramel will bubble up quite a bit (which is why it's important to use a big pot) but don't be afraid of it. Once all the cream mixture has been added, whisk the mixture to combine.
- Next, return the pot to the medium-high heat and let the caramel come to a boil. Do not stir the caramel anymore. You will see the caramel turn from a light brown to a dark red-brown. Bring the entire mixture to 245 degrees F (no higher) and remove from the heat. Next, add in the vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
- Let the caramel cool for 2-3 minutes to firm up a bit. If you spoon the caramel over the pecans at this point, it will run all over the place.
Assembling the Turtles:
- Once the caramel is firm and is cool to handle, dip the entire turtle into the melted chocolate to fully coat on all sides. Use a fork to turn the turtle around in the chocolate-- this is much easier and won't get your hands all dirty. Once it is fully coated, place it back on the parchment-lined baking tray and repeat for the remaining turtles. Once they are all coated in chocolate, place the baking tray in the freezer again for 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to firm up.
- When the chocolate is firm, arrange the turtles on a serving dish and serve to your guests! Note that you can make these up to 4 days in advance and keep them in single layers in an air-tight container. Separate the layers of turtles with parchment paper to prevent any sticking!