the appetizer:

Learn classic but simple baking techniques with Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees, including recipes for Pie Pastry; Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Milk and Rum; Buttery Jam-Filled Linzer Thins; and Caramel Turtle Bars.

I Love Desserts


Caramel Turtle Bars

Makes 4 dozen bars


Most of us have fond childhood memories of some sort of turtle candy cluster...that irresistible combination of caramel, pecans, and chocolate that marked hands and face with telltale signs. The rich shortbread cookie crust on these bars not only provides a slightly cleaner delivery mechanism, but it also stands up well under a mother lode of pecans, caramel, and bittersweet ganache that'd make a pastry crust soggy after a day or two. The "caramel" here is stress free and foolproof—not actually a true caramel, achieved at around 310 degrees F, but a simple cooked buttery brown sugar filling that delivers caramel flavor without the angst of having to stare at a candy thermometer. This recipe is also very tasty with walnuts, almonds, or even macadamia nuts.


Shortbread Crust

Line a 13" x 9" baking pan with foil, leaving an overhanging edge for easy removal. Lightly butter the sides of foil (not the bottom) to prevent the caramel from sticking. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, sugar, and salt until just combined. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or freeze for 5 to 7 minutes), until the dough is firm.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for 15 more minutes, until the crust is golden all over and completely set. Set aside on a wire rack.


Turtle Topping

In a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the brown sugar, 3/4 cup of the heavy cream, the butter, corn syrup, and salt to a boil, stirring until smooth. Continue boiling, without stirring, for 6 minutes. Meanwhile, sprinkle the pecans over the baked shortbread crust. Pour the hot caramel evenly over the pecans. Let cool completely at room temperature, about 2 hours.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the remaining heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat; add the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth and melted. Drizzle the chocolate mixture with a fork over the cooled bars. Let the chocolate set up for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Carefully lift the bars from the pan using the foil overhang and transfer them to a cutting board. Slip the foil away from the bars by lifting with a metal spatula. Cut into 1-1/2" squares and serve at room temperature.


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This page created October 2009