Made with chocolate, caramel, and nuts, caramel turtles are candies which roughly resemble turtles. Easily found commercially, these turtles can also be homemade. Both salty and sweet, caramel turtles are often a favorite for sweet lovers and nut lovers alike.
Although nearly any type of nut can be included, pecans are the usual choice for caramel turtles. Chopped pecans can be used, but normally either whole or half nuts are chosen. Whatever type is selected, the nuts are often toasted before being included in the candy.
The caramel may either be homemade or store bought. Often, store bought soft caramel candies are melted for use, rather than a dessert syrup. Homemade caramel is made by first caramelizing sugar, then adding butter and cream to a desired consistency. Making homemade caramel is trickier and more time consuming than simply melting candies, but, when done correctly, may yield a more satisfying result.
Semi-sweet chocolate or a combination of semi-sweet and unsweetened chocolate is normally the final ingredient in caramel turtles. The chocolate can be melted on the stove top or in a microwave. If melted on a stove, baking chocolate, rather than chocolate chips, is normally easier to work with since chips are designed to better hold their shape and, therefore, are harder to melt into a smooth mixture without scorching.
Caramel turtles can be made in several ways. First, the melted caramel can be poured onto a lined cookie sheet and allowed to cool enough to work with safely. Then, the nuts can be mixed into the caramel. The resulting mixture is shaped into balls and flattened. The caramel-nut mixture is then chilled to set. Afterward, each candy can be dipped into the melted chocolate.
Alternatively, the pecans can be placed in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and the caramel can be spooned on top of the nuts. Like the previous version, the candy is then chilled and dipped into the melted chocolate. In both versions, the nuts poke out around the edges of the roughly circular shape, creating the faint impression of the head and legs of a turtle.
To create a more recognizable turtle shape, the nuts can be arranged in groups of four to simulate turtle legs. The caramel is poured over the center of each nut cluster. Then, the caramel-nut candy is topped with the melted chocolate. In any version, the chocolate must set before the candies can be handled.