Can somebody tell me why in the world this recipe would originally call for 1 1/2 tsp salt? Seriously!? For 2 cups flour…? Anyways, I made them as written in the book, “Baked: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients” by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito, which I absolutely adore- BUT, there is no way this recipe needed that much salt. Even if they were trying for a sweet/salty combo play. It just didn’t work. The cookie dough was so strongly salty, I could hardly stand any bites that didn’t have caramel to mask it. Haha have I sold you on this cookie recipe yet? Well, the problem isn’t with the recipe as a whole, just the amount of salt called for. I immediately cut the quantity in half when I translated it to my post. Problem solved : ) Now on to the great qualities of these cookies!
First of all, who doesn’t love the combinations of flavors “turtle” refers to? Chocolate, caramel, and pecans- yum!! I LOVE a good turtle anything. These cookies take a chocolatey dough, roll the whole thing in chopped, toasted pecans, and fill a center indentation with a chewy caramel. And my personal recommendation- a drizzle of melted milk chocolate! Just wonderful : ) And I say “milk” chocolate specifically because the cookie dough itself isn’t very sweet- it is a deep chocolate flavored dough. This is probably to help balance out the sweetness of the caramel. Although I have noticed that the authors have a tendency to make lightly sweetened, dark chocolate cookies. I felt the same way about their Chewy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies I made a few weeks ago. Not as though they are bland like a biscuit, they are just not as sugary-sweet as a brownie or chocolate chip cookie.
So which of the two that I recently made by them do I prefer? Definitely the Chewy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies. They were simpler to prepare and didn’t have any issues with the amount of salt called for in the dough… but these Turtle Cookies are still a great recipe! And the recipe makes about 2 cups worth of caramel so you have lots left over to use for something else. I froze my leftover caramel in small discs and I am going to stuff some chocolate chip cookie dough with it hehehe
I actually came up with another clever way to use the caramel for this recipe. Since it cools chewy and stretchy-like, rather than pourable, I just sandwiched a nice disk between two cookies that I didn’t indent. It made a cute little chocolate turtle sandwich cookie!
- For the Cookies:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white, divided
- 2 Tb whole milk
- 1 Tb pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups pecans, toasted, finely chopped
- For the Caramel Filling:
- 14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3½ ounces (7 Tb) unsalted butter
- 3 Tb light corn syrup
- 1 Tb heavy cream
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp salt
- For the Cookies: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, the milk, and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again and beat for 10 seconds. Add half of the dry ingredients and beat for 15 seconds. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Do not overmix. Scrape the dough into a ball, wrap the bowl tightly and refrigerate until the dough is chilled and firm, at least 1 hour. The dough can be made a day ahead and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk the 2 egg whites until frothy. Place the pecans in a separate wide-mouthed, shallow bowl.
- With clean hands, form the dough into tablespoon-sized balls, taking care that they have no lumps or cracks. Dip each ball in the egg white mixture, then roll in the pecans to cover completely and place on the prepared baking sheets (if the dough starts to become too soft, refrigerate it briefly to firm it up).
- Use your thumb or a small dowel to make an indentation in the center of each cookie, rocking your thumb or the dowel ever so slightly back and forth to create a larger thumbprint (to hold more caramel). Bake for 8 minutes, remove the baking sheets from the oven, and use your thumb or the dowel to make the indentation more visible. Return the sheets to the oven and bake for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the cookies appear set. (These are the type of cookie that can over-bake very quickly- pull them out at the first sign of cracking.)
- Remove the pans from the oven, set the baking sheets on wire racks, and make one last impression using your thumb or the dowel to make a larger thumbprint. Cool 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely before filling them.
- For the Caramel Filling: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together all the filling ingredients. Increase the heat to med-high and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring very occasionally. Once the mixture reaches a consistent boil, stir gently and continuously until the mixture starts to thicken and darken, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve (to remove any unsightly brown bits) into a pourable glass measuring cup or bowl.
- Fill the thumbprint indentations with the caramel filling using a spoon, a glass measuring cup, or pastry bag. Allow them to set until the caramel filling is room temperature, about 45 minutes. These cookies taste great at room temperature or directly from the refrigerator.
- They can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.