Chocolate Caramel and Pecan Turtle Clusters

Chocolate Caramel and Pecan Turtle Clusters

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. šŸ™‚

I’ve wanted to makeĀ Turtle ClustersĀ 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 handsĀ and given 50 thumbs up.

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

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

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


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

***NOTE: I used my homemade caramelĀ recipe for these clusters. IĀ only madeĀ half a batch of caramel, as the ingredients below indicate.Ā I’ve got to think about my health you know.Ā Consuming 80 Turtle ClustersĀ 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,Ā 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. AddĀ  1 C brown sugar, 1/2 C light corn syrup and 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk to the pan.Ā Increase the heat just a bit and stir it continually.Ā Cook and stir until it reaches 235-240 degrees.Ā I generally remove it from the heat whenĀ it reachesĀ 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
    December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Love turtles! These look easy to do.

  2. 2
    Lori A.
    December 5, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Mmmmmmmmmm…….One of my favorites.

  3. 3
    December 5, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Jamie – these look soooo good. I wish the drool on my keyboard tasted as good as that caramel!

  4. 4
    December 5, 2012 at 11:51 am

    hubby and I love turtles – when we lived in MD there was a wonderful candy shop at the mall that made fantastic dark chocolate ones. I will be making these soon, but w/our preferred dark chocolate

  5. 5
    December 5, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Oh Mercy! Turtles will be my undoing…. Now I can make them!! These look wonderful!

  6. 6
    December 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Oh my….! these look and sound so good! Pinning them to save! =)

  7. 7
    December 7, 2012 at 4:47 am

    love your blog, i found the turtle recipe on pinterst they look delicious,will try them for christmas. thank you …………..

  8. 8
    December 8, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I make these every chance i get everyone loves them especially the men when you add just a little heat.

  9. 9
    December 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    What is shortening? What does it do to the chicilate

  10. 10
    December 16, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Do these freeze okay? (Assuming I don’t wolf down all of them in one fell swoop.)

    • 11
      December 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      They freeze like a dream. Just be sure to lay theym in a single layer. You don’t want to stack them on top of each other. Then be sure they come to room temperature before you serve them. The caramel will get really hard when frozen, but will soften up nicely once they have thawed. Good luck! Hope you love them.

  11. 12
    December 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks, Jamie. I’ll make them this week so they’ll be ready for our Christmas Eve cookie tray. I just know we’ll love ’em! Bless you for sharing this recipe.

  12. 13
    December 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I made these two days ago, and have had them on my counter, covered with plastic wrap. They are now getting little white specs on them. What causes this? AND, what can I do to make them pretty again?

    By the way, they are absolutely wonderful. They are even better than the ones they sell at Disneyland!

  13. 14
    December 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Seriously, this recipe should come with a gym membership. Why, you ask? Because these little candies are so incredibly scrumptious that you won’t be able to eat only a few. OMG! These are the BEST! My dear, darlin’ husband raved about these turtles, too. Mmmmmmmm, so good. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  14. 15
    Mary Ann Hart
    January 15, 2013 at 10:54 am

    WOW! I can’t wait to try these! Thanks for your recipe. I am going to make these for my husband for Valentines day! I think he will be really impressed!

  15. 16
    January 30, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe, it is AMAZING!!! Everybody loves them!!

  16. 17
    May 31, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I have fallen in love with your blog. such scruptuous recipes and step by step pictures makes it so easy to follow.
    Thank you!

  17. 18
    June 15, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Made these Carmel Turtles today for my Dad for Father’s Day! They came out awesome! I’m sure my dad is going to love them!

  18. 19
    Lauren M
    June 15, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Absolutely delicious. I, too, made these for my father for Father’s Day. He is going to be thrilled. I made extra caramel for me. Yum. Thank you for the recipe.

  19. 20
    August 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    good lord woman!
    these are HEAVENLY!

  20. 21
    October 11, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    These are wonderful. I did double the recipe. Wow a lot of clusters.

  21. 22
    October 29, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Love Chocolate Caramel and Pecan Turtle Clusters! Thanks for the recipe…I needed this! You made my day!

  22. 23
    November 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I can’t wait to try these, I am going to make them and put them in pretty containers and give them out with my Christmas gifts this year. I am going to make them ahead of time and freeze them. These are so expensive to buy, but making them will be much cheaper. Thanks.

  23. 24
    November 15, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I just made these and the Caramel is really hard šŸ™ it’s like a hard candy. Did I overcook the caramel?

    • 25
      November 16, 2013 at 8:51 am

      Yes, your guess it correct. You have cooked the caramel too long. Perhaps your thermometer is faulty?

  24. 26
    November 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Just made these and they are delicious!!!

  25. 27
    December 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Back in Dec. 2012 I asked the following question:
    I made these two days ago, and have had them on my counter, covered with plastic wrap. They are now getting little white specs on them. What causes this? AND, what can I do to make them pretty again? (P.S. I used the Guittard milk chocolate). They ARE better than the ones we often get at Disneyland!

    • 28
      December 5, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Sometimes if your chocolate changes temperature too quickly, or gets too hot it can get white spots. Also, if it comes into contact with water this can happen. Make sure you are heating it slowly, and then allowing the clusters to set up and cool at room temperature. Hope this helps, Elaine! Good luck to you. šŸ™‚

  26. 29
    December 5, 2013 at 11:05 am

    If I did not make my own caramel, what do you think the best option to buy would be?

    • 30
      December 6, 2013 at 6:42 am

      You can purchase Kraft Caramels, unwrap them and melt them in a sauce pan with 1 teaspoon of water over medium heat. Once they have melted you will have a nice liquid like caramel on your hands. šŸ™‚ Good luck! Hope they turn out well for you!

  27. 31
    December 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    All it needs is a sprinkle of sea salt

  28. 32
    Becky Ethington
    December 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    So, I made these little numbers and the caramel turned out very hard–almost hard rock stage. I followed the instructions but the caramel kept hardening as it cooled so I returned it to the stove to make it soft and workable again. I expected those last ones to be hard–I knew I was cooking the caramel too much at the end, but the ones I did first were hard too. Suggestions? I want these to work!

    • 33
      December 11, 2013 at 7:34 am

      It sounds like your candy thermometer might be broken. I would suggest cooking the caramel for a shorter time. Best of luck to you.

  29. 34
    December 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Oh thanks for the recipe. Someone else had this posted/pinned with pics and only part or the instructions/ingredients and it made no sense. Going to try these.

  30. 35
    December 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    These look so much better than my easy ones. I put a Rolo on top of a nut and microwave it.

  31. 36
    December 11, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Mine didn’t turn out, the caramel was still to runny šŸ™

    • 37
      December 12, 2013 at 6:09 am

      Next time try cooking the caramel a bit longer. Good luck!

  32. 38
    December 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Yours was the only recipe that I could clearly understand regarding how to make chocolate pecan caramel clusters. Thank you so much.

  33. 39
    December 12, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I made your caramel and turtles for my holiday cookie exchange – they turned out fantastic! I was so nervous b/c I have never made caramel before, but it was super easy per your instructions and ice water test (I didnt buy a candy thermometer). And the turtles turned out just like a candy shop’s! People ohh’ed and ahh’ed when I announced the caramel was homemade. THANK YOU for providing such an easy and fabulous recipe! Gonna make a 2nd (double) batch this wknd!

  34. 40
    Michele Wesdock
    December 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Oh my gosh, these are to die for. I am in a caramel-coma right now. Cooked up a giant batch for gifts and trying not to eat them all šŸ™‚

  35. 41
    December 22, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Easy and very awesome. Thank u!

  36. 42
    Aspen Tree
    December 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    For anyone thinking of making these i suggest spraying the parchment paper with cooking spray….

  37. 43
    December 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    These were the best. I did however change the chocolate. I used my grandma’s recipe that she would use to dip buckeyes in. They so reminded me of Christmas at my grandparents house. Thanks for sharing

  38. 44
    December 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Awesome recipe! Very easy to follow!

  39. 45
    December 29, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Hi Jamie, I’d like to make turtles (cashew or pecan) for favors for my son’s wedding reception. Am I out of my mind to want to make 250 of these in about a week’s time? And, can I freeze them for about a week before the wedding? Thank you!

  40. 46
    January 1, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Made these today, they were very easy and delicious! My new favorite thing to make and give. Thank you!

  41. 47
    January 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Just made these. They taste great, but my caramel is setting up. I actually measured out 7 oz of the Eagle Brand; I think it may have been too much. Or maybe it’s because it’s cloudy here today? They are good enough that we’ll eat ’em with a spoon if we have to!

  42. 48
    January 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Oooooh are these goooood! This recipe takes turtles to a whole new level. (Tip: after the caramel cools a bit you can shape them into more of a round shape, tuck in stray caramel, etc.)

  43. 49
    Cynthia Vann
    January 22, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Can I melt the chocolate chips in one of the candy melting pots instead of the microwave as I need to make quite a few of these for a crowd?

    • 50
      January 22, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      I used a double boiler to melt my chocolate. I got a chocolate candy pot for Christmas and totally love it. Makes it that much easier.

    • 51
      January 27, 2014 at 8:20 am

      Yes, go ahead and use a candy melting pot. It should work out well for you. Best of luck!

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