History and Lore
Chocolate Turtles – A descriptive term for a
candy that is made from chocolate, pecans, and caramel. The name
turtle was coined because the arrangement of the nuts sticking out
from under the chocolate make a person think of a turtle. The four
legs are the nuts, while the head and tail are formed by extra
Pecan turtles have been made for many years; it
appears that turtles date from the 1930’s. We have found companies
which claim to have been making chocolate turtles for 80-years. What
we are sure of is that they have existed from the mid-1940s as
Nestle was issued a trademark in 1946 for a candy confection called
Over the years the chocolate turtle has been
described as a confection made from chocolate, caramel, and pecans.
But it has also been made from other nuts in the form of cashews,
macadamia nuts, and almonds. Turtles have been covered in milk
chocolate, dark chocolate, or even white chocolate. Others have also
been painted with colored cocoa butter and chocolate. But a key fact
is that they are NOT made from turtles and they do not contain
This candy is also known by many other names
including: chocolate caramel pecan turtles, chocolate turtles,
chocolate caramel turtles, and pecan patties. Some candy makers also
call them caramel pecan patties and even katydids.
Making Classic Chocolate Turtles –
A common method for making turtles is to fill a
sheet pan with a single layer of roasted pecans; either whole or
pieces, depending on the effect you wish to have. Then a funnel is
used to deposit by dripping a small circle of melted caramel on top
of the nuts. When the caramel is cooled the circles of nuts and
caramel are removed from the waste nuts and are chocolate covered.
Another method is to drop a circle of chocolate
on a sheet pan then place four nuts to form the legs. A circle of
melted caramel is added and once it is cooled another blob of
chocolate is placed over the caramel. The nuts are not totally
covered just used to hold the caramel and nutmeats together.
The third method is to mould a turtle shaped
shell then add caramel and a pecan and the final step is capping
with more chocolate. The benefit is that the caramel and nutmeat is
completely covered and the turtles stay fresher longer. But we’re
never had any chocolate turtles stay around long enough to know how
long they stay fresh.
A final method is to mould a shell of chocolate
and the fill it will a mixture of caramel and pecans to form a nut
cup. The turtle is then capped with chocolate and sealed. This
version of a turtle does not have the traditional turtle shape, but
rather it is a formed pecan cluster.
No matter how you want to enjoy your turtle or
what you want to call it, matters little. Turtles are a traditional
confectionary with a long and proud history. Whether you want the
tradition pecan or the more exotic cashews or almonds, it is still a
turtle to be savored and enjoyed.