These chocolate vegan pecan turtles are made with crisp pecans, rich dark chocolate, and an easy vegan caramel sauce for a treat no one will guess is vegan! These chocolate pecan turtle clusters are a treat you can make for yourself or are perfect for holiday gift-giving.
I love the gooey caramel flavor of these homemade turtles! Who knew you can create a homemade caramel sauce that's vegan and tastes great! They're full of layers of chocolate and chewy caramel with the perfect crispness from the nuts.
I love to make batches of these during the holiday season and gift them in a box to friends and family. They're the perfect little treat and everyone always love the personal touch.
Looking for more chocolate desserts? Try these vegan chocolate strawberries and this double chocolate banana bread. If you love trying out new homemade candy recipes, you're going to love these vegan peanut butter cups.
What You'll Need to Make Chocolate Turtle Pecan Clusters
Here's a look at the ingredients you will need to make this vegan version of chocolate turtles. They're simple and easy to find in most grocery stores.
- Pecans: These will shape the turtle "feet" so it's best to use pecan halves.
- Dark chocolate chips: These are generally naturally vegan since they aren't made with any dairy. Just be sure to check your package.
- Coconut cream: You will need a refrigerated can of coconut milk and simply measure out the desired amount of the coconut solids.
- Coconut sugar: This natural sugar has a natural caramel flavor which works great for making the vegan caramel sauce.
- Cornstarch: Just a bit to help the caramel thicken.
- Vanilla: Gives the caramel a hint of warmth and natural sweetness.
- Sea salt: A sprinkle on top of the chocolate just before serving. It makes the chocolate and caramel flavor really pop.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a couple ideas for changing up this turtle candy recipe to create a few different varieties.
- Swap the nuts! If you don't like pecans you can certainly make turtle candies with almonds, cashews, or walnuts. They won't form the same turtle-like shape as the pecans but they will still taste great!
- Add some white chocolate! Drizzle melted vegan white chocolate chips and drizzle over the top to add some stripes!
How to Make Dark Chocolate Turtles
The process for making this chocolate pecan turtle clusters recipe is fairly simple! Here's an overview but you will find detailed instruction in the recipe card at the end of the page.
There is a bit of a pause in between steps to give the caramel and chocolate time to harden. Don't try to rush things and your turtles will turn out great.
- Combine the coconut cream, coconut sugar, vanilla, salt, and cornstarch in a small pan and whisk everything together making sure to break up any clumps. Once it's ready, place the caramel in the fridge for a few minutes so it can cool off and solidify a little bit.
PRO TIP: Refrigerate your can of coconut milk overnight! That way the coconut cream, which is all you need, will form a solid layer on top of the liquid.
- Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave. Place it in a microwave-safe bowl and heat 30 seconds at a time and stir in between each time interval. Repeat until the chocolate is melted.
- Scoop out a small spoonful of melted chocolate and spread it in a small circle on a lined-baking sheet.
- Arrange five pecans in a circle on top of the chocolate forming small clusters, and repeat to make 16 turtles. Refrigerate the pecans and chocolate until the chocolate hardens, about 10 minutes.
- Add a spoonful of melted caramel sauce on top of each turtle and then refrigerate again until the caramel hardens, about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the turtles from the fridge and top them with another spoonful of chocolate. Refrigerate a final time until the chocolate hardens.
- Top your chocolate pecan turtles with flakey salt and enjoy!
How to Store
For best results store, your dark chocolate turtle in the fridge. The vegan caramel isn't as stable and will work best and last longest when refrigerated. Place them in a single layer in an airtight container and they will last up to two weeks.
You can also freeze caramel pecan turtle clusters for up to six months. Thaw them out on the counter for about thirty minutes before eating.
- Make sure to refrigerate your can of coconut milk the night before. It makes it easier to only scrape off the cream, rather than getting some of the liquid. This makes the caramel sauce thicker and richer in flavor.
- Use a dark chocolate 72% or higher for rich chocolate flavor.
- Plan ahead and make sure you allow enough time to refrigerate the candies after each step. From start to finish they will only take you about a 30 minutes to make.
- Homemade chocolate turtles make great gifts for Valentine's Day, birthdays, and Christmas.
- Don't forget to use parchment paper when making homemade turtle candy! This will make removing them from the tray much easier.
Frequently Asked Questions
I've found that using a combination of coconut cream and coconut sugar with a bit of vanilla for flavoring and thickening it with cornstarch creates a delicious caramel sauce that will firm up nicely when chilled.
The way the pecans are shaped in these candies, they resemble the look of small turtles. The key to a real turtle look is to use five pecans to create a head and four legs.
In most turtle recipes they are made with chocolate, caramel, and pecans. This recipe uses the same combination but creates a tasty vegan caramel.
More Vegan Dessert Recipes
Vegan Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtles
- 80 pecan halves 5 per turtle
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 ½ tablespoon coconut cream
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 dash vanilla
- 1 pinch sea salt
- First, let’s make the caramel sauce. Start by opening the can of coconut milk and scooping out the coconut cream.
- Note: *Refrigerate the can of coconut milk overnight and scoop out 2.5 tablespoons of the solid coconut cream that forms at the top.
- Add it to a small pan over medium heat, along with the coconut sugar, vanilla, salt & cornstarch whisk everything together making sure to break up any clumps.
- Refrigerate the caramel for a few minutes so it can cool off and solidify a little bit.
- Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave. Do this in 30-second increments, taking it out to stir the chocolate in between. Repeat this until all of the chocolate has melted.
- Line a tray with parchment paper.
- Scoop out a small spoonful of melted chocolate & spread it in a small circle on the baking sheet.
- Arrange five pecans in a circle on top of the chocolate.
- Repeat this for all of the pecans. This recipe makes about 16 turtles, so you will use up about 80 pecans.
- Refrigerate until the chocolate hardens, about 10 minutes.
- Next, pour a spoonful of caramel sauce on top of each turtle. Place them in the fridge for another 15-20 minutes, until the caramel hardens.
- Remove the turtles from the fridge & top them with another spoonful of chocolate. Refrigerate until the chocolate hardens.
- Remove the turtles from the fridge, top with flakey salt & enjoy!