Turtle Cookies

Turtle Cookies rolled in mini chocolate chips and pecans then filled with creamy, silky caramel and drizzled with chocolate for triple chocolate heaven!

This Turtle Cookies Recipe looks super impressive but is actually super easy to make!  They are mega soft, decadently chocolaty and about to become your new favorite cookie!

easy Turtle Cookies Recipe with caramel in the center drizzled with chocolate.

Turtle…it’s a powerful word.  It might even lead to love.

One of the first times Patrick and I hung out, I casually invited him to see the new movie Pride and Prejudice (2005).  When he showed up to the theater, he was met by my best friend, two of my roommates, my sister, my best friend’s mom, and my mom.

As the lights dimmed and Jane Austin’s classic came to life, he sunk deep into his chair and wondered what he had gotten himself into…until all was made right with a simple offering of “turtle?”  (aka a chocolate covered pecan caramel cluster)  Although he didn’t know what a turtle was, he bravely accepted.  We were married 4 months later.

What are Turtle Cookies?

So what exactly are Turtle Cookies you might ask?  Turtle Cookies are the delectable Turtle chocolates Patrick and I bonded over in cookie form.   They are chocolate cookie dough rolled in chopped pecans then filled with luscious caramel then drizzled with melted chocolate.

In this Turtle Cookie recipe, I transform them into triple chocolate Turtle Cookies by also rolling the dough in mini chocolate chips.  Because more chocolate  = more YUM.

Closeup of three Turtle Cookies.

Now we can devour these Turtle Cookies in the privacy of our own home without sharing with my best friend, my roommate, my sister…and that’s a relief because it is very hard to share these ridiculously addicting cookies.

I made them New Year’s Day and had to exercise all my self control to save them for our guests.  Usually cookies don’t call to me that much but these Turtle Cookies scream to me!

After all, their chocolate dough is rolled in mini chocolate chips and pecans then filled with luscious caramel then drizzled with more chocolate.  Scream away.

Closeup of  holding a Turtle Cookie with pecans

How to Make Turtle Cookies

Turtle Cookies are very simple to make. Firsts, you will mix the dry ingredients together of flour, cocoa, and salt and then you will cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together.

I use both granulated sugar and brown sugar because granulated sugar does the sugar thing and makes them sweet while brown sugar imparts a slight molasses flavor and and makes them soft and chewier.

Once you’ve creamed the butter and sugars together, you’ll add the eggs, milk, molasses and vanilla.  Next, reduce speed to low so the dry ingredients don’t fly all over the counter then add flour and mix just combined.

Next, we chill the dough for 2 hours.  Chilling is essential otherwise the dough will be too sticky to form into balls and you’ll end up with cookie dough all over your hands.  Chilling also prevents the Turtle Cookies from spreading too much when baked which is essential to create our thumbprint of caramel.

Once the dough has chilled, we form cookie balls then roll them into a mixture of mini chocolate chips and pecan pieces.  Make sure you press the chocolate chips and pecans into the dough so they stick when the cookie dough spreads in the oven.

Rolled balls of a Turtle Cookies Recipe on a baking sheet.

To make the thumbprint, use the back of a ½ teaspoon and press lightly into the center of each dough ball.  I like using a measuring spoon because it creates uniform thumbprints.  After the cookies bake, the thumbprint will puff slightly, so use the same teaspoon to gently re-press the indentation.

showing how to make Turtle Cookies by making a thumbprint in the middle of a Turtle Cookie with a tablespoon.

The caramel filling is made by microwaving caramels and cream together in the microwave.  I use Kraft soft caramels.  They can be found in the candy section of your grocery store.

Drizzling caramel onto this Turtle Cookies Recipe.

Finally, melt your chocolate in the microwave and drizzle away!

 
Chewy Turtle Cookies on a cooling rack.

Now I realize you have probably made resolutions about eating healthier and I should be posting a salad recipe (that’s coming) but I am too in love with these Triple Chocolate Turtle Cookies to not share them right now.  And you will be too.  Love at first bite.

Turtle?

HOW DO I STORE TURTLE COOKIES?

Turtle Cookies should be be stored in a airtight container.  Make sure the cookies are completely cool, then place parchment paper in between the layers of cookies. Turtle Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 7 days.

Does the Caramel Stay Soft?

If you use Kraft caramels and follow the recipe, then the caramel will set but it will stay silky, creamy soft so these Turtle Cookies are every bit as delicious days after they were made as they were fresh out of the oven.

Closeup of a half eaten Turtle Cookie.

CAN I FREEZE TURTLE COOKIES?

Yes, you can freeze Turtle Cookies before or after you fill them with caramel but I find it best to fill them with caramel after.

  • Bake cookies and and fill with caramel per instructions but do not drizzle with chocolate.
  • Fit as many COOLED baked Turtle Cookies on a parchment/nonstick mat lined baking sheet without touching.
  • Place the baking sheet(s) in the freezer and freeze until  solid (about 1 hour).
  • Transfer to a freezer size plastic bag and squeeze out excess air in order to prevent freezer burn.
  • Freeze for up to three months.
  • When ready to eat, remove the cookies from the bag and let them come to room temperature on the counter.  This will prevent condensation.
  • Drizzle with chocolate and serve.

Yes, you can freeze the Turtle Cookie dough and shape them a a later time.

  • Roll balls per instructions and fit as many as you can on a parchment/nonstick lined baking sheet without touching.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze the balls until  outsides are hard (about 1-2 hours).
  • Transfer to a freezer size plastic bag and squeeze out excess air to prevent freeze burn.
  • Cookie dough should freeze well for up to 3 months.
  • Defrost cookie dough in the refrigerator then proceed to shape, bake an fill cookies per recipe instructions.
Three turtle cookies on a white serving platter.
Closeup of four Turtle Cookies.

Triple Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Turtle Cookies rolled in mini chocolate chips and pecans then filled with creamy, silky caramel and drizzled with chocolate for triple chocolate heaven! This Turtle Cookies Recipe looks super impressive but is actually super easy to make! 
Servings: 30 cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

Chocolate Cookies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (1 stick)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup pecans roughly chopped

Caramel Filling

  • 14 soft caramel candies (I use Kraft)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate Drizzle

  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips or baking chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon shortening

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside.
  • In a hand or stand mixer, beat butter until creamy, add sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, milk, molasses, and vanilla; mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined.
  • Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. After 2 hours, remove dough. (Let sit for a few minutes if its too hard to work with.)
  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line baking sheets with nonslip mats or parchment; set aside.
  • Mix together the mini chocolate chips and pecan pieces in a small bowl. Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in chocolate chips/pecans, pressing them firmly into the dough. Place 10 balls per baking sheet (it makes a total of 30 cookies) about 2 inches apart.
  • Using a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon, make a slight indentation in the center of each dough ball.
  • Bake for 10 minutes then let cool on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Once cookies are transferred to rack, gently re-press the indentations.
  • While cookies are cooling, prepare the caramel filling by microwaving caramels and cream together in a small bowl until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds until melted, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Fill each indentation with about ½ teaspoon of the caramel.
  • To make the Chocolate Drizzle, microwave chocolate in a small bowl on 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Stir in shortening. Transfer chocolate to a Ziploc bag, snip off a small corner and drizzle over cookies.

Notes

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days. 

Did You Make This Recipe?

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Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies 2010 Special Issue

 

Reader Interactions

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26 Comments

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much June! The are little bites of chocolate caramel heaven 🙂 I hope you are able to make them and enjoy them soon!

    • Jen says

      I 100% agree with you! I hope that means we get to eat them in heaven to make heaven more heavenly 🙂

  1. Cyndi - My Kitchen Craze says

    These cookies look amazing! Yum! I love that gooey carmel in the middle. And I am all about the sweets after the new year. Who needs salads any way, hehe. 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Cyndi! The gooey caramel is my favorite part – any excuse to eat caramel and I am there! And completely agreed, sweets after the new year are a must. All good things in moderation. Unless you can’t control yourself. 🙂

  2. Karen says

    These cookies are so good. I made them for a cookie exchange and everyone wanted the recipe. My only complaint about the recipe is how sticky the dough is, even after refrigerating overnight. Is there a trick to rolling the balls without all the mess? (I used a small scoop, to portion the dough, but still had to create the ball before rolling it in the nuts and chocolate chips.)

    • Jen says

      Hi Karen, I am so happy to hear you loved the cookies! As far as the dough being sticky, it needs to be sticky for the chocolate/nuts to adhere but it shouldn’t be THAT sticky! I would suggest dusting your hands with flour or spraying you hands them with nonstick cooking spray. I do this when I’m working with sticky bread dough. Also make sure the butter is room temperature and not completely soft. Hope that helps!!

  3. Vicki says

    These cookies are soooo good!! Only change I made — my son has a nut allergy, so I substituted pretzel pieces for nuts, and the salty crunch of the pretzels was perfect with the caramel and chocolate! Thank you for this recipe.

    • Jen says

      Hi Vicki, that is absolutely brilliant to substitute pretzels for the nuts! I might have to make a version just with that change! So happy you enjoyed them! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  4. Pamcakes says

    These cookies are calling me, and I seldom, if ever, make desserts or cookies. Do you think honey could be substituted for molasses? Thanks ☺

    • Jen says

      Hi Pam! I would substitute pure maple syrup if you have it otherwise honey should be just fine. Enjoy!

  5. Jaimie says

    I so want to make these, but what about gluten free recipe? I don’t want to mess up a good thing if I use the wrong kind of “flour”.

    • Jen says

      Hi there! Unfortunately, I don’t specialize in gluten free cooking/baking but I have heard Bob’s Red Mills 1 to 1 flour is a good one. Good luck!

  6. Nancy says

    Can this recipe be doubled?

  7. Sandra Boyd says

    Can the cookies be frozen as I want to start my Christmas baking

    • Jen says

      You are so on top of things! The caramel won’t be as soft but they can be frozen.

  8. Kelly says

    Can I make the dough ahead of time? Let’s say about 3 days before time to bake? I thought maybe I could freeze the dough and thaw out the day I get ready to bake. Thoughts?

    • Jen says

      Yes, you can definitely make the dough ahead of time, enjoy!

  9. Margaret says

    I’m so impressed with the recipe and myself they
    came out just like the pictures.
    There delicious and the caramel centers were a perfect
    mate to make me think I was actually eating a piece of candy .
    I’m giving them out at a cookie exchange but not the recipe
    that’s my secret.

    • Jen says

      Wahoo! Thanks for your awesome comment Margaret! I’m so pleased these turtle cookies came out “picture perfect!” The source can stay our secret 😉

  10. Rose says

    Hi, I just made these and the dough is chilling now, so will report back when I’ve finished baking them. So far, the dough is delicious! I noticed in your recipe that there is no mention of when to add the cocoa powder. I assumed at the same time as the flour, but you might want to adjust your recipe. Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Rose, I hope you love them! The cocoa powder is mentioned in step 1, easy to miss: “In a large bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside.”

  11. RP says

    Hi.

    Is there any substitute that can be used for the egg in this recipe?

    I want to make this for a party where there are some guests who don’t eat eggs.

    The recipe looks great by the way! Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Unfortunately I am not experienced with baking without eggs -sorry!