Buttery shortbread. Rich caramel. Crunchy pecans. Creamy chocolate. These chocolate caramel pecan turtle bars have it all! Plus, you'll be surprised just how easy they are to make.
I have no idea how many times I've devoured these chocolate caramel pecan turtle bars, because my mom has been making them for as long as I can remember. She's made them for countless parties, celebrations, and - occasionally - just because.
Do you have recipes like this? Recipes that you've made so many times that you can't remember exactly where the recipe originally came from? Recipes that you've adopted as your own family classics over the years? For my family, this is one of those recipes.
Easy Dessert Bars: How to Make Chocolate Caramel Pecan Turtle Bars
These bars can be broken down into 4 layers:
- Buttery shortbread: super simple and just 3 ingredients
- Crunchy, toasted pecans: for a deliciously nutty crunch
- Smooth, rich salted caramel: the easiest caramel you'll ever make
- Creamy chocolate ganache: the perfect topping ties all the flavors together into one delicious package
To make the bars, we'll start with a simple shortbread crust made with flour, brown sugar, and butter. These 3 ingredients are blended together with a food processor (or you can use a pastry cutter to cut the butter in by hand), pressed into the bottom of the pan, and par baked (baked just part way).
The caramel layer couldn't be easier to make. The 4 ingredients are added to one pan all at once and boiled briefly. The warm crust is then topped with toasted pecans, and the hot caramel is poured on top before the pan goes back into the oven to finish baking.
Once the bars are baked and cooled, they're topped with a smooth, creamy layer of chocolate ganache. The ganache is made by simply whisking warm cream and finely chopped chocolate (read all about chocolate ganache here!) before spreading the ganache over the top of the bars. A sprinkling of salt over the top of the bars is optional but makes for an extra pretty presentation.
The chocolate ganache topping is an upgrade that I recently decided to add to the bars. We've always made them with a simple melted chocolate topping, but I can't leave good enough alone so I've started making them with a creamy ganache instead. If you want to save a few minutes you can certainly go the melted chocolate route (I've included a note in the recipe for how to do this), and the bars will still be spectacular! But if you have a few extra minutes I recommend making the ganache to really take this dessert to the next level.
A Season-less Dessert for Every Occasion
It's easy to see why these chocolate caramel pecan turtle bars have withstood the test of time and why they've made an appearance at so many get-togethers over the past several decades. These bars are rich and creamy, soft and crunchy, and the kind of decadent dessert that's impressive enough to serve at a party but laid back enough to bake on a Saturday afternoon just for fun. They'd be an unexpected (but welcome!) addition to the dessert line-up at Thanksgiving, a hit at the Christmas cookie swap, and the first dessert to disappear at the summer picnic. They're season-less, so we make them all year round for gatherings big and small. (Tip: These bars are indulgent, so for big parties where lots of treats will be served, I love to cut the bars into small, bite-sized squares so that guests can sample multiple desserts!)
Love these chocolate caramel pecan turtle bars? Leave a review and be sure to check out these other chocolatey dessert bar recipes!
- Salted Brookie Bars
- Small Batch Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bars
- Chocolate Mint Creme de Menthe Brownies
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This post was updated in April 2020 to provide an improved user experience.