Chocolate turtles—the candy made from pecans, caramel, and chocolate—encompass one of my favorite flavor combinations. It works in practically any and every dessert. In this recipe, chocolate turtles are reimagined into one magic little cookie using Rolos and a pecan-studded brown sugar dough baked in a mini muffin tin.
Turtle cookie cups come together quickly and are a delicious treat any time of day. I especially love them as a sweet pairing with a hot cup of coffee. The drizzle of chocolate and sprinkle of sea salt give them extra razzle dazzle, but you can also keep them simple with just the Rolos and toasted pecan halves. Whether you dress them up or dress them down, these cookies always hit the spot.
Simple Keys to Better Cookies
- Lean on the power of brown sugar: Whereas many cookie recipes use an equal amount of light brown sugar and granulated sugar, I prefer a higher ratio of light brown sugar in this recipe. The extra kick adds a strong caramel-y undertone to the dough, contributes moisture, and helps to create a cookie with a tender chew.
- Add vanilla to the butter: Beating the vanilla into the butter ensures that the vanilla flavor that helps to round out the cookies is carried through each bite.
- Mix the nuts in early: In developing these, I found the cookies to have a more prominent pecan flavor when the cooled, chopped pecans were first beaten into the butter rather than added after the flour. This also helps reduce risk of overmixing.
- Any brand of chocolate covered caramel will work as long as it’s similar in size to a Rolo.
- You can use semi-sweet chocolate instead of bittersweet chocolate for the drizzle.
- If you prefer, melt chocolate chips in place of the chopped chocolate. You’ll need about 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips.
Make Ahead Tips
The baked cookies are best freshly baked. However, the dough itself freezes well!
You can make, portion, and store balls of dough in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer for up to 1 month. When ready to bake, prepare the mini muffin pan and oven as described in the recipe. Bake the cookies from frozen as instructed in the recipe, noting that the cookies may need an additional few minutes baking time.
More Ooey Gooey Cookie Recipes
Turtle Cookie Cups
Bake time ranges from 22 to 24 minutes.
Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing the pan
2 cups (226g) pecan halves
1 1/3 cups (180g) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons (4.5g) kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon (1.8g) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (1.2g) baking powder
1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (108g) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (54g) granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons (13g) vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
24 Rolo, unwrapped
1 ounce (28g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped (optional)
Flaky sea salt, for finishing (optional)
- 1 (24-cavity) mini muffin pan
Prepare the pan and oven:
Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack set in the middle. Lightly spray the cavities of a 24-cavity (or two 12-cavity) mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Toast the pecans:
On a rimmed baking sheet, spread the pecans into an even layer. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and toast the nuts at 350°F until fragrant and slightly darker in color, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the nuts to cool to room temperature. To speed up the process, the pecans can be transferred to the refrigerator for about 10 minutes or the freezer for about 5 minutes.
Once cool, set aside 24 pecan halves to top each cookie. Be sure to pick out the prettiest pecans!
Finely chop the remaining cooled pecans and set aside. You should have about 1 1/2 cups.
Combine the flour, salt, and leaveners:
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder to combine and set aside.
Cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla:
To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or alternatively in a large mixing bowl using an electric handheld mixer), add the unsalted butter, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat together on medium speed until fully combined and creamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Stop and scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Add the egg:
Add the egg to the bowl with the butter mixture and beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until well combined, about 35 seconds. The mixture may look slightly separated or broken. This is okay. It will come together in the following steps.
Add the pecans:
Add the cooled and chopped pecans to the bowl with the butter mixture and beat on medium speed until the pecans are just evenly distributed, about 15 seconds.
Add the flour mixture:
Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the butter mixture and beat on low speed, scraping as needed, until just combined with no visible dry bits remaining, about 15 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to give the dough a good stir, scraping the bottom of the bowl, to ensure all of the flour mixture has been fully incorporated.
Portion the dough:
Using a 1 1/2-inch scoop or tablespoon, divide the dough into heaping tablespoon portions to yield 24 portions of dough. Use your hands to roll each portion of dough into a ball.
Place a ball of cookie dough into each cavity of the prepared mini muffin tin. Do not press the dough down.
Oil your hands lightly if the batter is sticking to them as you shape the dough.
Bake the cookies:
Bake the cookies on the middle rack of the oven at 350°F, rotating halfway through baking, until the cookies are lightly golden and puffed slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. It’s okay if the cookies are just turning golden brown around the edges, but the tops should not be golden brown. This is a sign of overbaking.
Press in the Rolos and pecan halves:
Remove the pan from the oven and set over a wire rack. Immediately, while the cookies are still hot, press an unwrapped Rolo with the wider base facing up into the center of each cookie.
You’ll see the chocolate get glossy as the heat from the cookie begins to melt it. Gently press a reserved toasted pecan half on top of the melty rolo. This helps keep the pecan attached to the cookie once it’s cooled.
Briefly cool the cookies:
Let the cookies cool in the pan set over a wire rack until the cookie is slightly set up, about 2 minutes.
Carefully, holding the top of a cookie, twist to release it from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. If you find the cookie to be delicate and/or the chocolate to be moving around, allow the cookies to cool an additional couple of minutes.
The cookies should release from the greased pan with ease, but occasionally, there’s one finicky cookie. If you find a cookie isn’t releasing from the pan after being cooled for a few minutes, you can use a small offset spatula to help nudge the cookie out of the pan.
Allow the cookies to cool on the rack while you prepare the chocolate for drizzling, if using.
Finish the cookies:
Add the chopped bittersweet chocolate to a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate is completely melted, about 45 seconds total.
For a cleaner, more uniform look, transfer the melted chocolate to a resealable plastic bag, plastic piping bag, or parchment cornet and snip a small opening off the corner. Alternatively, you can use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate.
Arrange the cookies on the rack so that the pecan halves are running vertically. Set the rack over a baking sheet or newspaper to collect any drips. Drizzle the chocolate over one half of each cookie at an angle so that the chocolate crosses the pecan on a diagonal. Sprinkle each cookie with a very light pinch of flaky sea salt, as desired.
Allow the chocolate to set up slightly before serving. Serve the cookies completely cooled or while still warm and the chocolate and caramel is still gooey.
Store leftover cookies in an airtight container in a single layer or stacked with a piece of wax or parchment paper between the cookies for up to 4 days. I don’t recommend freezing the baked cookies.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 12g||16%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||20%|
|Total Carbohydrate 15g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 11g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|