These paleo friendly and vegan chocolate turtles are such a fun and cute treat to make! They’re easy, no-bake and come with a date “caramel” center for the turtle bodies. Your family and friends will be surprised with these healthy treats!
A Healthy No Bake Dessert
Chocolate + caramel + pecans = heaven.
I don’t feel like I truly understood what chocolate turtles were until I was introduced to them at my in-laws. Their neighbors always made them as little holiday gift so when we were home for the holidays, I was lucky enough to get in on the action.
I quickly learned that chocolate turtles are a holiday classic and I’ve been meaning to recreate a Fit Mitten Kitchen version for you ever since.
These turtle candies are always gone in a flash at my family’s holiday gatherings. People couldn’t believe they are actually pretty darn healthy.
You just need seven ingredients and just a tiny bit of patience to make the pecan cluster turtle shapes, add the melted chocolate and then let the turtles set.
Here’s what you need:
- Medjool Dates – they’re the big juicy ones. The only ones I use for all of my date-based recipes and treats. This in combination with the nut butter will make your caramel center.
- Nut or Seed Butter – I prefer cashew here but Sunbutter also works. Peanut butter or almond, or a blend would work as well. I do not recommend coconut butter here.
- Non-dairy creamer or milk – using creamer will provide a richer date “caramel”. Coconut cream or milk also works.
- Vanilla – a little flavor boost for the caramel
- Vegan friendly chocolate – Use high quality dark chocolate for the best flavor. You can use vegan chocolate, or if not dairy free use another high quality brand you like.
- Pecan Halves – You can buy pre-roasted pecan halves or buy raw ones but I’d suggest roasting the raw ones first before using.
- Flaked sea salt – balances out the sweetness and highly recommend this for the best flavor.
EQUIPMENT: You’ll need a food Processor or high powered blender, for blending the dates and making the “caramel” for the turtles.
You’ll also want parchment paper or a silicone mat, and a baking sheet
How to make Vegan Chocolate Turtles
This chocolate turtles recipe is so easy to make!
They come together in a few steps and I personally love the process of making them!
Here’s an overview of the steps, with pictures included so you can see how they’re made.
A full recipe card can be found at the bottom of the post.
Step 1 – Make the date “caramel”
In the food processor bowl, add Medjool dates (soak them for 5 minutes in warm water if they’re dry) and the nut or seed butter. As the dates begin to form a paste, add vanilla and creamer.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The date caramel will be sticky and thick – transfer to parchment paper (I kind of rolled it into a ball) and place on plate or in bowl and stick in fridge for about 15 minutes.
Step 2 – Create the Turtles
Lay out a parchment lined baking sheet.
Use a round tablespoon to shape the date caramel into round discs, about 1/2″ thick, 1.5″ in diameter. Then stick one pecan into the date caramel to create the head and (4) legs. So you’ll need five pecan halves per turtle.
Then transfer pan to freezer to chill for about 10 minutes while you melt the chocolate.
Step 3 – Melt the Chocolate
Chop chocolate (or use chips) and melt the chocolate on 1/2 power (50%) in microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments – stirring in between.
Alternatively, melt the chocolate in saucepan on stovetop over low heat, stirring continuously.
Whichever method you choose, watch carefully and be sure not to let the chocolate burn.
Step 4 – Cover the Pecan Clusters in Chocolate
Now it’s time to cover the caramel turtle “bodies” with melted chocolate.
I covered both the front and back since the date caramel is a little sticky. But you can also just do the tops if you prefer. 6oz of chocolate should be enough to cover all of the turtles fronts, with a little on the back as well.
I mean, honestly – HOW CUTE ARE THEY?!
- Do I have to use Medjool dates? I suggest using Medjool dates here as they’re much more moist and juicy compared to a nedoor date. I’ve also only made this recipe with Medjool dates, so the rest of the ingredients and ratios are factored using Medjool dates.
- Do I need a food processor for this recipe? A food processor is going to break down and process the dates best, but you can also use a high powered blender (i.e. Vitamix). I imagine the NutriBullet would also work. You just need to continue scraping down the sides of the container while processing.
- Do I have to use a nut or seed butter? You could probably get away with omitting, but I can’t promise the same results. If you do want to omit the nut/seed butter, you may want to add 2-3 tablespoons of almond flour to get a thicker texture for the caramel.
- Can I use chocolate chips? Yes, you can use chocolate chips, just make sure they’re a good quality brand. Usually the store brands don’t melt well.
Once the chocolate has set over the chilled caramel, you can store the chocolate turtles in a covered container or tray in the fridge. Then bring them out to room temperature for serving.
They’ll be fine sitting out at room temperature as well, as long as the environment isn’t super warm.
If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and review on the blog! I love hearing from you, and it helps others learn more about the recipe too! Xx AshleyPrint
Healthy Vegan Chocolate Turtles
Just 7 ingredients and less than 30 minutes for these Healthy Chocolate Turtles that are vegan, gluten free and paleo friendly. With a Medjool date “caramel” center, pecans and melted chocolate. Your friends and family will love this healthier take on holiday classic.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 12–14 Turtles 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: No-Bake
- Cuisine: American Holidays
- Diet: Vegan
- 18 large Medjool dates, pitted (soaked for 5 minutes if dry)
- 3 tablespoons cashew butter (or almond, tahini or sunbutter)
- 1–2 tablespoons creamer or coconut milk (or water)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 70 pecan halves
- 6 ounces quality dark chocolate (about 3/4 cup chips)
- Flaked sea salt, for sprinkling tops
- Make the date “caramel”: In the food processor bowl, add medjool dates (soak them for 5 minutes in warm water if they’re dry) and the nut or seed butter. As the dates begin to form a paste, add vanilla and creamer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The date caramel will be sticky and thick – transfer to parchment paper (I kind of rolled it into a ball) and place on plate or in bowl and stick in fridge for about 15 minutes.
- Create the Turtle Shapes: Place parchment paper on medium size baking sheet. Use a round tablespoon to shape the date caramel into round discs, about 1/2″ thick, 1.5″ in diameter. Then stick the pecan halves into the date caramel to create the head and (4) legs. So you’ll need 5 pecan halves per turtle. Then transfer pan to freezer to chill for about 10 minutes while you melt the chocolate.
- Melt the Chocolate: Chop chocolate (or use chips) and melt the chocolate on 1/2 power (50%) in microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments – stirring in between. Alternatively, melt the chocolate in saucepan on stovetop over low heat, stirring continuously until melted. Remove from heat. Whichever method you choose, watch carefully and be sure not to let the chocolate burn.
- Cover the Turtles in Chocolate: Now it’s time to cover the caramel turtle “bodies” with chocolate. Start by covering the caramel (top of the bodies) with about 1-2 teaspoons of chocolate. The chocolate will set pretty fast with the chilled dates. So if using flaked sea salt, be sure to sprinkle fairly quickly. Then once the chocolate top completely set (about 5 minutes) I flipped the turtles over and covered with about 1 teaspoon of chocolate on the back, placing them back on the parchment paper to set. 6 ounces of chocolate should be enough to cover all of the turtles fronts, with a little on the back as well.
- Allow the turtles to completely set at room temperature, or place back in fridge. Store covered in container in fridge until ready to serve. They can be set out at room temperature for your guests enjoyment!
- Serving Size: 1 turtle
- Calories: 196
- Sugar: 28g
- Sodium: 173mg
- Fat: 8g
- Saturated Fat: 3g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 32g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 2g
- Cholesterol: 4mg
Keywords: turtle chocolate candy, vegan christmas desserts, chocolate turtles