Brownies with nuts are a controversial topic, but I think these turtle brownies are special. If you aren’t familiar, Turtles are a milk chocolate, caramel and pecan candy. They are delicious! I set out to make a brownie version, because both brownies with caramel and brownies with nuts are both popular. Let’s put all those things together and see what we can come up with.
Now, a traditional turtle candy, the chocolate is covering the pecan and caramel. I decided to put caramel bits and chopped pecans inside the brownie but then a decadent layer of salted caramel covering the top of the brownies, so they are sort of an inside out turtle. Either way, it’s absolutely delicious.
For this recipe I took my Black Cocoa Brownies and adapted them with dutch process cocoa, plus all the caramel and pecans. You could definitely still use black cocoa, but it wouldn’t taste the same as a turtle candy. I haven’t tried it though, it could be just as delicious!
You might be intimidated by making your own caramel, and I promise it’s not that difficult or time consuming. On one of my tests, I burnt the caramel slightly, but you honestly couldn’t tell once it was on the brownies.
Making caramel sauce is not complicated or lengthy but the following steps will help ensure it turns out. Make sure your cream and butter are room temperature. Cold cream can seize the sugar and ruin the batch. Caramel is VERY hot. When adding ingredients make sure to not have your hands too close to the mixture. Sugar can splatter and burn you. Don’t walk away when you’re making caramel. Have all your ingredients and tools right by the stove so you don’t burn the sugar.
Turtle Brownies Key Ingredients
- Caramel – This recipe uses both store bought caramel bits for the batter, and homemade salted caramel sauce for the top. The bits are a little chewier while the top is soft, luscious and creamier.
- Pecans – I recommend getting a bag of pecan halves so you have halves for the top of the brownies and you can chop them for the batter.
- Cocoa Powder – Personally, I prefer a cocoa powder brownie recipe. I will happily make ones with melted chocolate or both but based on my testing, cocoa powder brownies have a slighter higher amount of flour so the fat to flour ratio lends itself to a chewy brownie rather than a straight fudgy brownie. That being said, you can use any cocoa powder, but for these I’d recommend Dutch Process. I used this Valrhona Cocoa Powder.
- 165 g Dark brown sugar ¾ cup + 1 tbsp
- 100 g Granulated sugar ½ cup
- 113 g Unsalted butter ½ cup, melted
- 48 g Vegetable or Canola oil ¼ cup
- 50 g Cocoa powder ½ cup
- 2 large Eggs + 1 yolk room temperature
- 2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 90 g AP Flour ¾ cup
- 1 tsp Sea salt
- 75 g Chopped pecans ½ cup
- 100 g Caramel bits ½ cup
- 200 g Granulated sugar
- 85 g Unsalted butter 6 tbsp, softened
- 120 g Heavy whipping cream ½ cup, room temperature
- pinch Sea salt
- 16 Pecan Halves
- Flaky sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 inch cake pan with parchment, set aside.
- In a small bowl, measure out flour and salt and stir to combine. Set aside.
- In a medium-large bowl, melt your butter either in the microwave or using a double boiler on the stove. Add your oil.
- Add your sugars and stir.
- Once sugars and fats are mixed together, add your cocoa powder and stir until cocoa powder is dissolved.
- Allow your mixture to cool somewhat before adding your vanilla, eggs and yolk. Stir or whisk in completely.
- Add your dry ingredients to your your wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Stir in your chopped pecans and caramel bits until they are evenly distributed through the brownie batter.
- Pour your batter into your prepared pan. Bake on the center rack of your oven for about 25 minutes. Brownies will be ready when top of the brownies has set.
- Remove your pan from the oven and allow to cool.
- Using a stainless saucepan (using stainless will allow you to easily see the color of the caramel as it browns), add your granulated sugar and place over medium heat.
- Stir the sugar as it begins to melt. It will clump up and you'll think it's not right but just keep stirring. All the sugar will eventually melt.
- Caramel can burn very quickly, so as soon as it starts to caramelize watch it carefully. You want it to be somewhere between medium and dark amber. Err on the side of too light rather too dark as you cannot fix a burnt caramel. As soon as it reaches the right color, remove from the heat.
- Carefully pour in your heavy cream and continually whisk. The mixture will bubble up a lot, but just keep mixing until the caramel is smooth again.
- Add in your butter and salt and mix until melted. Let your caramel cool in the pan for a few minutes and then pour into a glass jar or measuring cup to let cool.
- Allow your caramel to cool for about an hour before pouring it over your brownies. Neither the brownies or caramel will have cooled completely, which is fine. Make sure there is a good layer where no brownie is peeking through and it reaches the edges.
- Place your brownies in the fridge to let the caramel set and the brownies finish cooling.
- When ready to eat (1-2 hours of chilling in the fridge at least), remove and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Cut into 16 squares (or 9 for larger brownies) and top each square with a pecan half. Enjoy!