homemade chocolate turtles
1 cup pitted medjool dates
½ cup coconut cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup pecan halves, or enough for about 18-20 clusters
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt (optional)
Add your dates to a small bowl and cover with a generous amount of warm water. Set aside to soak for about 5-10 minutes. The time it takes will depend on how fresh your dates are. You want them to be really soft so that they will puree well, so start at 5 minutes and keep checking on them.
While the dates are soaking, add the rest of the caramel ingredients to a high-powered blender or food processor. Once the dates are soft, drain the liquid and add the dates to the blender with the rest of the ingredients.
Puree the caramel ingredients on high until smooth. You may need to stop to scrape down the sides of the blender. You can also add a bit more coconut cream and/or coconut oil to help the mixture puree better. We’re going for a really smooth, gooey caramel consistency, so just keep pureeing and scraping until you get there. Be careful not to add too much liquid though, as you don’t want it to be too runny.
Once the caramel is made, lay out a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Group 4-5 pecan halves, flat side down, onto the cookie sheet. Arrange them in a “star” formation with the pecans touching in the centre.
Take about 1 tbsp of the caramel mixture and dollop it in the centre of each of the pecan groups. You can use your spoon to slightly spread it out across the pecans, but it’s okay if it doesn’t cover all the way (it will all be dipped in chocolate eventually!)
Once all of the pecan clusters have caramel on them, place the pan into the freezer for 3-4 hours, or until they are completely solidified.
When the pecan-caramel clusters have completely solidified, you can prepare the chocolate. Add the chocolate chips to a bowl to melt using a “double boiler” method: place the bowl of chocolate over a pot of simmering water and stir gently until melted. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second intervals. Both of these methods will gently temper the chocolate so that you’ll get a nice consistency for dipping the turtles.
Remove the turtles from the freezer. Using a fork, lower each pecan/caramel cluster into the chocolate mixture. Use a second fork to cover the cluster entirely with chocolate. Lift the cluster out of the chocolate and let the excess chocolate drip off for a couple of seconds. I like to gently transfer the cluster between two forks to help even more of the excess drip off.
Place the chocolate cluster back onto the parchment paper and immediately sprinkle with flaky sea salt (if using). Continue this process for each of the clusters. Depending on how well you remove the excess chocolate, you may need to melt a bit more chocolate to finish up. Place the pan in the fridge to let the chocolate harden for at least 30 minutes.
Once everything is solidified, store the chocolate turtles in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. You can also store them in the freezer so they’ll last longer!
I made these chocolate turtles for a networking gathering just before Christmas and they were a HIT (talk about making a good first impression). I posted a shot of them on my Instagram and I got so many requests for the recipe and just as many requests for me to bring them to all of the holiday events I had! Unfortunately for my family, these didn’t make it past the one event I brought them to so only a limited number of people were lucky enough to try them. But everyone who tried them loved them and most people even went back for seconds!
Since then, I’ve known I needed to make them again, and do a proper recipe post because they were just that good! This is a recipe that definitely needs to be shared so that everyone can make them for themselves. I decided that Valentine’s Day was the perfect excuse to make them for myself again; I’m not a fan of this “holiday”, but I am a fan of any day that gives me an excuse to celebrate by eating chocolate so I guess I can get on board with it.
Let me start by saying these chocolate turtles will blow your mind, so be prepared for that. The gooey vegan caramel sauce is ridiculously delicious and you cannot tell that it doesn’t contain 2 cups of sugar and/or corn syrup like traditional caramel sauce does. It’s naturally sweetened using soaked dates, and that’s it! But it’s something about the combination of all the flavours from the dates, coconut oil, coconut cream and tahini that really takes it over the top. It’s ultra creamy and gooey and I want to put it on everything, if I’m being honest.
I love these turtles the most because they are a truly decadent treat that is so much better for you than any packaged version is. Yes there is still sugar from the chocolate chips and some natural sugars from the dates, but it’s still a better-for-you version that doesn’t compromise on taste.
Sometimes you just need a treat and if I can provide you with a delicious, good-for-you version of a chocolate turtle, then I’m doing my job right. Nutritionally there is definitely some benefit to the fibre in the dates and in the pecans. But ultimately these guys are meant to be a treat. So make them and enjoy them! You can feel good about the fact that you’ve made them yourself, you know exactly what’s gone into them and you’ve eliminated the junky stuff that’s in the packaged version. I’m all about enjoying nourishing foods as much as possible, but sometimes it’s just about eating something that tastes good and these turtles taste damn good.