The Ultimate Turtle Brownies
Something magical happens when rich, dark chocolate meets gooey caramel. These Ultimate Turtle Brownies epitomize this classic pairing!!
Caramel Brownies topped with pecan halves have the classic components of turtle candies and are absolutely irresistible. The combination of Chocolate, Caramel, and Pecans in this brownie recipe will rock your world.
Why You Should Make
- If you love the combo of chocolate and caramel, and especially turtle candies, these brownies will knock your socks off!
- This is a tried and true recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.
- If you want a decadent dessert, these brownies fit the bill.
These Caramel Pecan Brownies take a little finesse but are worth the trouble. You’ll need an instant-read or a candy thermometer to make the caramel and in the end, you’ll have quite a few dirty dishes. But you won’t regret making these.
I left the nuts out of this brownie recipe because of the fake nut allergy the hubby claims to have (he also jokes that he’s highly allergic to fennel, mint, coconut, pineapple, mushrooms…you get the picture!). I figure he can pull the one pecan off the top of each piece. PRO-Tip: Feel free to mix in 2/3 cup of toasted, chopped pecans to your brownie batter for the ultimate turtle brownie experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Turtles?
Most folks think of the hard-shelled, slow-moving reptile when hearing the word turtle, but there IS another definition. Turtle candies were first made in the early 1900s when pecans and caramel were dipped in chocolate. These mounds of deliciousness resembled turtles as the arrangement of nuts sticking out from the sides looked like turtle legs.
Since that time, many desserts featuring the combination of chocolate, caramel, and pecans received the “turtle” nickname. These delectable turtle brownies definitely fit the profile!
What are Turtle Brownies?
Turtle Brownies are any brownie that has the addition of caramel and pecans. This version has optional chopped pecans in the brownies, a caramel topping, and pecan halves to garnish.
How to Make a Caramel Topping?
This is the trickiest part of the recipe. First, you need a quality, accurate candy thermometer. It’s imperative that you cook the caramel to 360 degrees or it won’t get firm enough to stay put on top of the brownies.
- Dissolve the salt in the heavy cream.
- Add water, corn syrup, and sugar to a saucepan as directed.
- Cook mixture over medium-high heat stirring gently until the edges just begin to boil.
- Cover with the lid and boil until the mixture is clear.
- Remove the lid and boil until the mixture reaches 290º on a candy thermometer.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until light amber and reaches 360º.
- Remove caramel from heat and stir in the cream.
- Once the bubbling stops, Add butter and vanilla, stirring until smooth.
How to Cut Brownies?
Brownies taste best when they’re served at room temperature, but they can be a challenge to cut when they’re at their fudgiest! Instead, I chill them first, then slice with a hot, dry knife. Clean and reheat the knife as needed. Then bring to room temperature to serve.
When to Add Caramel to Brownies?
In this recipe, you add part of the caramel between two layers of batter before baking and the rest on top of the cooled brownies. They must be cooled to room temperature so that the caramel is not absorbed by the warm brownies.
Tips for Making Turtle Brownies
- Go ahead and make your caramel the day before. It’s the most challenging part of this recipe, so you don’t want to rush the process.
- Make sure you have an accurate candy thermometer. It’s very important to cook the caramel to the proper stage. You can always test your thermometer’s accuracy by checking the temperature of boiling water. It should read 100° C or 212° F.
- When your caramel is finished cooking, pour it into a liquid Pyrex measuring cup sprayed with Pam or another non-stick cooking spray.
- When it’s time to pour it over the batter and again over the top of the baked brownies, it will glide out of the measuring cup. Plus, the spout makes for easy drizzling.
- If the caramel is too cool to pour, just zap it in the microwave, stir and repeat if needed.
More Turtle Desserts You’ll Love:
If you’re like me and are head over heels for any dessert labeled turtle, you’ll also swoon over these Turtle Thumbprint Cookies and this Turtle Poke Cake. This decadent Chocolate Turtle Bundt Cake definitely caught my eye as did this marvelous Turtle Cheesecake! Plus check out all my Favorite Brownie Recipes!
- Heavy Cream – Must be 36-38% butterfat for a rich caramel topping.
- Kosher Salt – A flavor enhancer even in desserts. Do not omit or the flavor will be flat
- Corn syrup – Prevents the caramel from recrystallizing
- Butter – Salted or unsalted is fine. There’s not enough in the recipe for the extra salt to be a problem.
- Vanilla Extract – Must be pure, not imitation vanilla
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – May substitute bittersweet for a deeper chocolate barrier between the brownies and caramel topping
- Unsweetened Chocolate, Semisweet Chocolate, and Dutch Process Cocoa Powder – Give the brownies a deep chocolate flavor.
- Flour – All-purpose is perfect
- Baking Powder – Used in brownies when cocoa powder is an ingredient. Make sure to check the expiration date. Replace before it expires or check by adding a spoonful to boiling water and expect vigorous bubbling if it’s active.
- Eggs – Use large eggs
- Pecan Halves – Toast to bring out their natural oils. May add chopped, toasted pecans to the batter, if desired.
Don’t Forget to Subscribe!
Have you subscribed to my weekly newsletter? You’ll get the latest blog recipes plus some seasonal favorites delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning! And as a bonus, you’ll receive a series of 5 Tips & Recipes for Leveling Up Your Desserts! Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time!!
SUBSCRIBE HERE—> https://bit.ly/3tLQIcL
This recipe was first shared in March 2013. Photos and text were updated in 2021.
- ¼ cup heavy cream plus 2 tablespoons
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 2 teaspoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
- ¾ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 25 whole pecan halves, toasted (may add 2/3 cups chopped pecans to filling, optional)
- 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Measure the cream into a 1 cup Pyrex measuring cup or small bowl. Add salt, stirring to dissolve completely. Set aside.
- Mix together water and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Carefully pour the sugar into the middle of the saucepan making none touches the sides. Cook mixture over medium-high heat stirring gently until the edges just begin to boil.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid and allow to boil until the mixture is completely clear. Take off the lid and boil until the mixture reaches 290º on a candy thermometer. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling occasionally until the mixture is light amber and reaches 360º.
- Remove caramel from heat and stir in the cream. The mixture will bubble vigorously, but keep stirring, scraping the bottom and sides. Once the caramel stops bubbling add butter and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Set aside and make brownies.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with nonstick foil...making sure to leave some excess overhanging two sides. Or line with regular foil and coat with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Combine chocolates and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Gently heat till chocolate melted. Stir in the unsweetened cocoa powder
- In a larger bowl beat the sugar, salt, vanilla, and eggs until pale. Whisk in the chocolate and blend until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in the flour and baking powder with a rubber spatula until just combined. Mix in 2/3 cup chopped pecans if desired.
- Pour half of the mixture into the pan and smooth with an offset spatula. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the caramel over top of brownie batter (may gently rewarm caramel if necessary to make it pourable. Add the rest of the brownie batter on top, smoothing top.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and evenly sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the brownies. Cover with foil or cookie sheet and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and smooth melted chocolate over brownies. Allow brownies to cool to room temperature
- Gently rewarm caramel to pourable consistency. Pour the caramel over the top of the brownies. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours..
- To serve, remove brownies from pan, remove foil and cut into 25 pieces. Top each with a pecan half.
Use an accurate candy thermometer. If you're unsure, check it in a pan of boiling water. It should read 100 degrees C or 212 degrees F.
If you don't bring the caramel sauce to 360 degreees F, it will be too runny.
Store the brownies in the refrigeerator and cut right before serving in case your caramel is a little loose.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Serving Size:1 brownie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 202Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 87mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 1gSugar: 23gProtein: 2g