These homemade turtles are made with five simple ingredients, yet still amazingly decadent and taste just as good, if not better, than the store-bought candies. They’re also better for you!
I’m quite confident that my nanny (my grandmother on my mom’s side) introduced me to Turtles at a very young age. They were her favorite candy and she pretty much always had a box on hand. She liked to share so I’ve eaten my fair share of Turtles growing up. The combo of crunchy pecans topped with gooey caramel and smooth, rich chocolate simply can’t be beat. I can definitely see why nanny loved them.
After seeing a few recipes for homemade chocolate turtles around the web I thought it’d be fun to make my own version — a bit healthier with Medjool dates instead of caramel and dairy-free dark chocolate chips for the chocolate.
Medjool dates have a lovely caramel flavor and sticky consistency so I knew it would work well. What I didn’t realize is just how easy the homemade turtles would be to make. Seriously, it’s kind of an issue because now I want to make turtles every night for dessert.
You Only Need 5 Ingredients:
Medjool dates – Look for medjool dates that are already pitted or pit them yourself (it’s super easy). Two brands that I like are Natural Delights and Joolies. You can find Natural Delights in the produce section of most grocery stores (near the bananas) and Joolies are offered on Amazon and Thrive Market.
chocolate chips – I like using Lily’s chocolate chips to keep these dairy-free and low in sugar!
How to Make Healthier Homemade Turtles
Pulse dates – Place the dates into the bowl of your food processor and pulse a couple times. Add the sea salt and pulse until the dates are completely chopped and form a large ball. The date mixture will be very sticky! Use plastic wrap to cover your hands, remove the ball from the food processor and wrap it with the plastic wrap and freeze for about an hour.
Roll date balls – After freezing the date mixture should be much easier to work with. It should be harder and less sticky. Pinch off small pieces of the dates and roll into small balls. Place on parchment paper or a cooling rack.
Add pecans – After all of your date balls are formed, start adding three pecans to each ball in a triangle pattern. Make sure a little of each pecan sticks out. Place the turtle pecan-side down on the parchment paper or cooling rack.
Melt chocolate – Melt the chocolate by adding chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute in the microwave. Stir the mixture until all of the chips have melted. Use a spoon to cover each turtle with melted chocolate.
Freeze – Once all of the turtles are coated in chocolate, transfer them to the freezer to allow the chocolate to set up. This should only take 10-15 minutes!
How to Store Homemade Turtles
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. If I’m making more than a week in advance I usually store them in the freezer and then take them out about an hour before serving!
Place dates into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple times. Add sea salt and pulse until the dates are completely chopped and form a large ball. The date mixture will be very sticky at this point. Using plastic wrap to cover your hands, remove ball from food processor, wrap it with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 1 hour. This step makes the date mixture much easier to work with. It becomes harder and less sticky.
Remove date ball from freezer and unwrap. Pinch off small pieces of the date ball and roll into small balls. Place on parchment paper or a cooling racking. Once you have all the balls made, start adding three pecans to each ball in a triangle pattern with a little of each pecan sticking out. As you press the pecans the date ball will flatten out a bit.
Lay each turtle pecan-side down on the parchment or cooling rack.
Melt chocolate by adding chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute in the microwave. The chocolate chips should be almost completely melted at this point. Stir the mixture together until all the chips have melted down. (The heating process can also be done on the stove if you prefer.)
Using a spoon cover each turtle with melted chocolate. Once they’re all covered, move the turtles into the freezer to allow the chocolate to set up. This should only take about 10-15 minutes. Remove from freezer and enjoy. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer.