Turtle Bark

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Turtle Bark has all the best components of a turtle candy — toasted pecans, chocolate, and caramel! This homemade bark is simple to make and so tasty — the perfect holiday treat.

 

Overhead view of pieces of Turtle Bark.

Turtle Bark

Turtles are a delicious confection created in the early 1900s that have caramel, chocolate, and some sort of nut (usually pecans). When Turtle candies were first created over a century ago, they resembled a turtle, which is how they got their name.

Today “turtle” is a common term for many confections that contain chocolate, nuts, and caramel. I wanted to channel the flavors and ingredients of those delicious candies into a holiday treat and so Turtle Bark came to be!

It’s a unique flavor for holiday bark. Typically, chocolate bark is just a sheet of chocolate covered in candy, nuts, or dried fruits. Instead of relying on just chocolate and nuts, we’re adding caramel into the mix. And if you love caramel as much as I do, you’ll probably agree it has earned its place in the chocolate bark hall of fame!

Process shots: toast pecans and then coarsely chop; combine coconut oil and chocolate; melt until smooth; add pecans and mix.

Turtle Bark Tips

  • Toast the pecans: While optional, toasting the pecans adds another layer of flavor to these candies (see more information on this below).
  • Line the pans: Use parchment paper, wax paper, or even foil in a pinch. This makes for easy and clean removal of the bark. (Otherwise, it won’t come up nicely if it’s hardened on the sheet pan). I recommend using a 9×13-inch sheet pan or baking pan for this bark; you want the base layer to be about 1/4th inch thick.

Microwave Melting Tips

  • Use high-quality chocolate chips: My favorites are Ghirardelli® and Guittard® (not sponsored). The higher the quality of chocolate, the better it will melt and the tastier the bark will be.
  • Microwave chocolate chips in sturdymicrowavesafe (glass) bowls instead of using plastic or melamine. 
  • To avoid burned chocolate chips, microwave the chips for 30 seconds at a time, and stir for at least 20-25 seconds between each microwave burst. Remember, the chocolate is still melting even after it has been removed from the microwave. 
  • Just as with melting chocolate, be very patient and slow melting the caramels. Overheating will make them get very hard and brittle. Melt gradually and slowly, stirring often. 

Process shots: Spread chocolate-covered pecans on the tray; combine caramels and cream; melt until smooth; transfer to a plastic bag and pipe over the chocolate pecans; pipe additional melted chocolate on top.

Toasting Pecans for Turtle Bark

I like to toast the pecans to enhance the flavor (and even the texture) of this turtle bark. The Kitchn goes into more detail on the benefits of toasting nuts before baking with them.

So how to toast them? 

  • In the oven: Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown, stirring about halfway through. Generally, nuts will take 6-10 minutes to toast. Watch them carefully; nuts can go from toasted to burned very quickly. Make sure to let the pecans cool completely before chopping and adding to the melted chocolate.
  • On the stovetop: Spread the pecans in an even single layer in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Let stand for about 10 seconds and then stir. Keep stirring for about 3-4 minutes or until nuts become very fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool in the pan, stirring occasionally. Again, watch carefully to keep the nuts from burning and let them cool fully before adding to the melted chocolate.

View of the Turtle Bark, cut into pieces.

Turtle Bark Caramels

My favorite (affordable) caramels to use in this Turtle Bark is Werther’s Soft® (not original) caramels. (Here’s a visual of the bag (not sponsored)). These caramels have a great flavor — they’re made with real butter and cream. They’re also really soft and chewy so they add a great texture to this bark.

I recommend using the freshest possible caramels. If they are old, they’re more likely to become overly hard and tough when being microwaved.

A stack of cut Turtle Bark pieces.

Turtle Bark Variations

You can easily replace the milk chocolate with semi-sweet or dark chocolate for a les- sweet treat.

QUICK TIP

Add some Maldon® sea salt flakes if you love salty-sweet treats! It’s like a salted caramel turtle candy!

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Turtle Bark

5 from 8 votes
Turtle Bark has all the components of turtle candy -- toasted pecans, chocolate, and caramel! This homemade bark is simple to make and so tasty -- the perfect holiday treat.
Print Recipe

Turtle Bark

5 from 8 votes
Turtle Bark has all the components of turtle candy -- toasted pecans, chocolate, and caramel! This homemade bark is simple to make and so tasty -- the perfect holiday treat.
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword turtle bark
Prep Time 15 minutes
Setting up Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 8 -12 servings
Calories 243kcal
Cost $5.72

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (80g) pecan halves (See Note 1)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (311g) milk chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 15 Werther's soft caramels (~1/2 cup; 96g)
  • 1/2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (64g) milk chocolate chips
  • Optional: Maldon sea salt flakes

Instructions

  • PREP: Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper (or silicone liner or foil) and set aside. See Note 1. Toast the nut, let cool, and then coarsely chop in small pieces.
  • CHOCOLATE AND PECANS: Melt 1 and 3/4 cups milk chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl for 30-second intervals, stirring between each burst for 15-20 seconds, until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Stir the coarsely chopped pecans into the melted chocolate and then using a spatula, transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer about 1/4th inch thick.
  • CARAMEL: In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the unwrapped caramels and heavy cream. Microwave in 10-second intervals, stirring between each burst, for 20 seconds or until caramels are melted and smooth. Be careful to not overheat or rush this process or the caramels will harden and become brittle. Once melted, stir in the vanilla, and then transfer to a plastic bag (Have someone help you here -- it is sticky and thick!), and cut off one corner. Drizzle evenly and generously over the chocolate and pecan mixture.
  • TOPPING: Melt the remaining 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips (in the microwave). Pour the melted chocolate into a small plastic bag and cut off the tip. Pipe the melted chocolate over the caramel layer in stripes. If desired top with sea salt flakes.
  • LET HARDEN: Allow the bark to harden in the fridge and then cut into pieces with a very sharp knife. Store bark in the fridge (eat it out of the fridge) for up to a week.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I recommend toasting the nuts before starting. This is optional, but adds a nice flavor and is pretty easy to do! Here are the two options:
  • In the oven: Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown, stirring about halfway through. Generally, nuts will take 6-10 minutes to toast. Watch them carefully; nuts can go from toasted to burned very quickly. Make sure to let the pecans cool completely before chopping and adding to the melted chocolate.
  • On the stovetop: Spread the pecans in an even single layer in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Let stand for about 10 seconds and then stir. Keep stirring for about 3-4 minutes or until nuts become very fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool in the pan, stirring occasionally. Again, watch carefully to keep the nuts from burning and let them cool fully before adding to the melted chocolate.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 243kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 46mg | Potassium: 131mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 34IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1mg

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

Delicious and simple chewy turtle bark -- milk chocolate, caramel, and toasted pecans. Perfect gift for the holidays!
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24 Comments

  1. The turtle bark looks incredible! I am all about anything that is caramel and chocolate, so this is just right up my alley.

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