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Dark Chocolate Turtles

Dark chocolate, caramel, and pecans for the win!

Dark Chocolate Turtles
Careful placement of the pecans "just so" really makes the turtles come to life!

This classic confection can be as easy or as involved as you want to make it. The following recipe uses store-bought caramels to make the preparation a breeze - and the perfect introductory candy-making project for kids - but you surely could make your own caramel if you wish. What sets these turtles apart is the simple yet crucial step of first toasting the pecans. Nuts release their oils and thus their flavor once toasted, which takes these turtles to the next level. A good sprinkling of flaky Murray River salt atop the dark chocolate coating completes the decadent layers.

Equipment: dry measuring cup; rimmed sheet pan; parchment paper; small mixing bowls or double boiler; spoons


60 pecan halves, approximately 2 cups

1, 11-ounce bag of Kraft caramels (unwrapped bits or squares)

2 cups dark chocolate chips or discs flaky finishing salt such as Murray River, Maldon, or sel de Camargue

ILOC tip: this recipe easily doubles or triples for the holidays or a crowd, but be sure to melt the caramel in batches because it will cool faster than you can complete making that many turtles. It's all about technique, not torture!

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the pecan halves in groups of four to form a cross at an angle, with the four halves pointing at 2 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 8 o'clock, and 10 o'clock respectively, meeting in the center. Toast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and darker brown. Set aside.

3. Melt the caramels in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl for 1-2 minutes, until melted. Carefully spoon a dollop of caramel over the center of each group of pecans, approximately a tablespoon. Set aside.

4. Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl or in a double boiler. Stir with a spoon until smooth. Carefully spoon a dollop of dark chocolate over the each mound of caramel, approximately a tablespoon. Immediately sprinkle with flaky salt to taste.

5. Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to help set the chocolate. Remove from the refrigerator and carefully lift the turtles by the pecan "legs" and place on a dish to serve immediately.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Makes 15 turtles.

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