These Turtle Bars don’t look like much, but they’re seriously DIVINE. Buttery shortbread crust topped with a nutty pecans and a homemade caramel sauce, then finished with milk chocolate. These are addicting, easy and SO irresistible!
I have to admit, I was a little worried these bars were a big, fat fail.
I’m kind of a judgy person (eh, it is what it is!) and I tend to judge my desserts based on their appearances. So when I saw these aren’t the most attractive things I’ve ever made, I automatically assumed they would be awful, or that I messed up somehow.
Thankfully, it was a lesson learned in not judging everything that isn’t as gorgeous off the bat because these are fantastic. They just won’t win any beauty contests up against a frosted layer cake or an iced Christmas cookie. And that’s okay! Because most of the time, those cakes taste like cardboard and artificial fondant garbage anyway.
These Turtle Bars have all the makings of a classic turtle candy into a mouthwatering, tender bar cookie. They start with a shortbread cookie crust, consisting of flour, butter, and sugar mixed together and pressed into a foil or parchment-paper-lined pan. Simple enough! If you’ve ever made shortbread, you literally just mix it up and press it evenly into the pan. Then you’ll sprinkle some chopped pecans all over the crust. These cannot be turtles without pecans!
Next up, you’ll make your caramel filling. This is made from butter, brown sugar, and a splash of vanilla at the end for flavor. You’ll boil it on the stove in a pot, then pour it over the pecan crust layers. We’ll bake the bars until everything is cooked through and bubbly, then add some milk chocolate to the top of the molten caramel layer. The caramel layer will be so hot from baking in the oven that it will melt the chocolate chips almost instantly, so you can use an offset spatula to spread the melted chocolate around to create the chocolate topping.
The hardest part is allowing the bars to set and cool! And believe me, it’s an exercise in patience for sure.
These Turtle Bars are a must make for your upcoming holiday cookie trays!
For the Crust:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups roughly chopped pecans
For the Caramel & Topping:
- 1¼ cups unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups milk OR semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Line a 13x9" light metal rectangular baking pan with foil or parchment paper, extending the sides of the foil or parchment over the edges of the pan. Spray the foil or parchment with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl for the crust ingredients, combine the flour, brown sugar, and butter and beat at medium speed with a handheld electric mixer for about 1-2 minutes or until mixture is crumbly and butter is mostly incorporated into small pebbles. Press the crust mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the crust. Set aside.
- In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, combine the 1¼ cups butter and remaining 1 cup brown sugar. Cook and stir until mixture is bubbly and comes to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract quickly but carefully as mixture is VERY hot. Immediately pour the caramel mixture over the pecan layer in the pan.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the entire surface is bubbly and golden brown. Remove from the oven and wait 1-2 minutes, then sprinkle the entire surface evenly with the chocolate chips. Allow the chocolate chips to set for a minute or two, then use an offset spatula to smooth the now melted chocolate chips around into an even layer to cover the caramel layer.
- Allow chocolate to set and bars to cool and firm, about 3 hours, before cutting into squares.
These buttery, melt-in-your-mouth bars are sure to become a family favorite!
Have a super sweet day!