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Chocolate Caramel and Pecan Turtle Clusters

Chocolate Caramel and Pecan Turtle Clusters
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I have always wanted to make Turtle Clusters.

Not because I have a fascination with real live turtles and think it would be fun to nibble on one. I’ve actually NEVER wanted to do that. Thank you so much for asking. You are always so considerate. 🙂

I’ve wanted to make Turtle Clusters because the flavors of chewy homemade caramel, crisp pecans and heavenly chocolate all combined into one blissful candy is just a bite of heaven right here on earth, that’s why. Heaven. On. Earth. Is what I am saying here, folks. Whoever came up with the combination should be kissed on both cheeks, high-fived with both hands and given 50 thumbs up.

You’ll have to help me out with the thumbs, guys. The last time I checked I only had two.

If you hate caramel, pecans and chocolate…please do not give 50 thumbs up, just disregard this post. No hard feelings. See you tomorrow for a chocolate free recipe. 🙂

As for you fellow turtle lovers, let me show you how easy they are to make!


Time: 40 min hands on + 20 min to cool and set
Yield: about 40 clusters

***NOTE: I used my homemade caramel recipe for these clusters. I only made half a batch of caramel, as the ingredients below indicate. I’ve got to think about my health you know. Consuming 80 Turtle Clusters could kill a person. Dead. Dead as a door nail! However, if are making Turtle Clusters for the masses please feel free to double this recipe. It will turn out very well.***

2 1/2 C pecans
1/2 C butter (I use salted)
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C light corn syrup
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk (1/2 of a 14 ounce can)
1/2 t vanilla
1 (12 ounce) package milk chocolate chips
1/2 t shortening (I use butter flavored Crisco)

1. Toss 2 1/2 cups of pecans into a large skillet. Toast them over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until they have darkened just a bit and smell fragrant and wonderful. Should only take a few minutes.

2. Find yourself 2 large cookie sheets. Line them with parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray. Arrange your pecans into clusters, three to a group works well. You want to leave some space (about an inch) between each cluster.
3. Make your caramel (full tutorial with pictures found here). Place 1/2 C butter into a medium-sized sauce pan. Melt it over medium high heat. Add  1 C brown sugar, 1/2 C light corn syrup and 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk to the pan. Increase the heat just a bit and stir it continually. Cook and stir until it reaches 235-240 degrees. I generally remove it from the heat when it reaches about 234 degrees. It will continue to rise in temperature just a bit even without the direct heat, making the caramel just the right texture.
4. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

5. Carefully drizzle about 1 1/2 teaspoons of caramel over each nut cluster. You’ll want to work quickly, as the caramel will begin to set up. Be sure there is caramel touching all of the nuts in your cluster. The caramel works like glue, sticking the nuts together.

6. In a microwave safe bowl pour 12 ounces of milk chocolate chips. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each cooking interval.
7. Add 1/2 teaspoon of shortening to the melted chocolate. Allow it to sit for a minute or two (so it can melt and make the chocolate chips more spreadable). Stir it all together.

8. Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons of melted chocolate over the top of the caramel and nuts. Swirl it around along the top making a pretty swoop with your spoon.
9. Allow the chocolate to set up. Once it has hardened and cooled you can serve them immediately, or transfer them to an air tight container.




Post a comment!


  1. 1
    Suzanne Reising
    October 28, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Could I use a jar of caramel for ice cream instead of making it by scratch?

    • 2
      October 29, 2016 at 8:31 am

      Hi Suzanne,
      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, the caramel you mention wouldn’t be thick enough, or have the capacity to set up like the homemade version does.
      Best of luck!

    • 3
      October 30, 2016 at 8:07 am

      I use Kraft caramels and a little milk

  2. 4
    October 31, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    I am planning to make these for a fundraiser in about a week. Rather than freeze them, can I store them in a sealed plastic container in the refrigerator?

    • 5
      November 1, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks for your question. I’ve had these turn a little bit spotted if I store them in a sealed plastic container on the counter. I’m not sure if the nuts give off some moisture that makes the chocolate turn spotted…or not. However, it doesn’t generally turn out well. I would opt to store them in the freezer. Best of luck to you!

  3. 6
    November 4, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    i just made these…used wrapped caramels…i went to walmart day after halloween and got them half price for this reason 🙂 but they really set fast but soooo delicious. enjoy!!

  4. 7
    November 6, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    How long do you think these will keep fresh? I want to start early for Christmas.

    • 8
      November 22, 2016 at 10:30 am

      I want to also start early for Christmas and give them as gifts. What is the best way to give them? Should it be in an airtight container? How many days will they keep? Can I do them 2 weeks ahead of time? Thanks

  5. 9
    November 20, 2016 at 10:34 am

    I just made these and the caramel is NOT setting up. I followed the directions to a tea!I used my candy thermometer and did exactly as you said. Any way to save them???
    It tastes fantastic but the caramel is gooey! HELP

  6. 10
    November 21, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    I like my clusters completely covered. What can be done to cover the bottom as well.
    I made some last year from a different recipe but they were a bit thick.

    • 11
      November 22, 2016 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Angela,
      I would suggest waiting for the caramel to set up completely. Then set each cluster on top of a fork and submerge it in the melted chocolate. Bring it up out of the chocolate and allow any excess to drip off into the bowl. Set them back on some parchment paper and allow the chocolate to set up. It should work well for you. Best of luck!

      • 12
        Rebecca Wilkins
        December 21, 2016 at 10:01 am

        Instead of dipping the whole Turtle in chocolate I put a dollop of chocolate down before placing the pecans and caramel…this gives a chocolate base and chocolate top to the Turtles.

  7. 13
    November 22, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    I need some ideal for a bariatric diet.

    • 14
      Nancy Malig
      April 22, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      Pecans are very nutritious! These turtles would be a yummy way to fit nuts into your diet.

  8. 15
    November 29, 2016 at 9:29 am

    are the choc. chips sweetened or non sweetened kind?

    • 16
      December 13, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      Thanks for your question. I like to use Milk Chocolate, but semi sweet works as well.

  9. 17
    Deborah McClintick
    December 2, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    I made these for co-worker Xmas gifts and WHAT A HIT!! Once they were I put the nut “blobs” into mini cupcake papers and poured thee chocolate over them. It kept them separate and added a festive touch. The downside is that you must make them just before packaging them to gift to your friends. I left them in the fridge overnight and put 12 in each small Xmas tin I bought at the Dollar Store. What Fun!! Thanks Jamie!! Wonderful recipe.

    • 18
      December 13, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      So happy they turned out well! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂
      All my best,

  10. 19
    Dianne Voisin
    December 10, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Can the turtles be kept in my freezer for use later.

    • 20
      December 13, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      These freeze very well.
      Best of luck to you!

  11. 21
    December 10, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    I suppose I can use choc. almond bark instead of choc. chips?

    • 22
      December 13, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      Hi Debbye,
      Almond Bark is not a good option here. Much too waxy and artificial tasting. I would stick with milk or semi sweet chocolate chips. Best of luck to you!

  12. 23
    Doug Clifton
    December 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    how would you get the whole thing covered in chocolate

  13. 24
    lupe solis
    December 21, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Chocolate did not set , I followed the directions , caramel turned out perfect .

  14. 25
    December 23, 2016 at 11:44 am

    neither caramel nor chocolate set up as thick as shown–2nd year I have done this. Worked but not as pretty.

  15. 26
    March 31, 2017 at 10:48 am

    I am making these for the second time, they were loved by all, and the Carmel is the best I HAVE EVER

  16. 27
    April 11, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Love this recipe! Planning to make them as a favor for my daughters wedding!
    Glad to hear they freeze well so I can make them a bit in advance.

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