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.
for the shortbread crust:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 6 T unsalted butter, room temperature
for the caramel pecan layer:
- 3/8 cup dark brown sugar
- 6 T unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 T heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
for the chocolate ganache layer**:
- 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate baking bar, coarsely chopped
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- fine sea salt, for sprinkling on top (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8 metal baking pan with foil and set aside.
- Make the shortbread crust. Add flour, brown sugar, and butter to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture becomes a very crumbly dough.
- Pour the dough into the prepared pan and gently press the dough into the bottom of the pan to create a solid crust. Make sure the crust reaches all the way into the edges and corners of the pan and that there are no holes in the crust.
- Bake the crust until it's a light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool slightly while you prepare the caramel pecan layer.
- Prepare the caramel pecan layer. In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve. Let the mixture boil without stirring for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Sprinkle the toasted pecans over the shortbread crust and pour the caramel over the pecans.
- Bake the bars. Return the pan to the oven and bake the bars until the caramel is bubbling and darkens slightly in color, about 15 minutes. Remove the bars from the oven a let cool completely.**
- Once the bars have cooled, prepare the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it's just simmering (not boiling!). Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Then whisk the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the chocolate ganache over the cooled bars and spread it into an even layer using a spatula. Let the chocolate set before sprinkling with salt (optional), slicing, and serving the bars.
Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
*To toast pecans, spread them on a baking sheet and bake them in a preheated 300°F oven until they darken slightly in color and begin to give off a nutty toasted aroma, about 4 minutes.
**If you're in a hurry you can skip making the chocolate ganache and simply melt the chocolate on the warm bars (you will not need the heavy cream for this option). To do this, sprinkle the chopped chocolate (or 3/8 cup semisweet chocolate chips) over the bars immediately after taking them out of the oven. The heat from the bars will melt the chocolate. When the chocolate becomes glossy, use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly over the top of the bars. Let the bars cool and the chocolate set before slicing and serving.
Instead of using a food processor, you could also use pastry cutter. Add the flour and brown sugar to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until a very crumbly dough begins to form.
Keywords: chocolate, caramel, pecan, turtle bars, dessert bars, easy dessert recipe