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Paleo Maple Pecan Turtles

These Paleo Maple Caramel Pecan Turtles are made with real honey and maple syrup - a perfect paleo treat!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Resting time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas cookies
Servings: 36
Calories: 130kcal
Author: Anna


  • double boiler
  • Cookie sheets
  • parchment paper


  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or 1/4c coconut oil & 1/4c grass-fed butter)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 ounces pecan halves
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate


  • Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Arrange pecans in clusters on cookie sheets, with ample space between clusters. For the traditional "turtle" shape, put two large pecans end to end for the head and tail, with four small pecan for the legs.
  • Once pecans are all arranged, make the caramel. Add all honey, maple syrup, coconut oil, and water to the top of a double boiler. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  • Continue to simmer, stirring frequently. As the mixture cooks, you'll notice that it first darkens in color, and begins to “pull away” from the sides of the pan. You will
    likely see an increase in the volume of bubbling right before this point. Soon after, the caramel will start to lighten in color a bit, and that's when you're going to want to pay very close attention - it means you're really just about done.
    Cooking the caramel takes some time - usually at least 20 minutes. Caramel can be cooked more quickly in a saucepan directly on a burner, but it's a bit easier to burn it, so I suggest using the double boiler.
  • Heat the caramel till it reaches 245 degrees on a candy thermometer.
    You can also check for done-ness using the "cold water test": using a spoon, pour a drop of the mixture into a glass of cold water. Mixture should form a ball that stays together, but is still pliable. (We're going for just past the "soft ball" stage.)
    If mixture strings out in the water rather than forming a ball, cook for a minute or two longer and try again.
  • Remove caramel from the heat, and let it rest for a few minutes before spooning it carefully onto the pecan clusters. It's easiest to work with when it's begun to cool just slightly.
  • Once you've spooned the caramel onto all of the pecan clusters, let it set while you melt the chocolate.
  • Melt the chocolate in a small pan over simmering water. Once melted, spoon on top of caramel-covered pecan clusters.
  • For best results, let turtle candies cool undisturbed at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  • Store turtle candies between parchment paper in airtight containers. If the weather is warm, you may want to refrigerate them. I've stored these for up to 48 hours, and they've kept their flavor and texture perfectly.
    While I've heard that homemade turtle candies can be successfully stored for up to two weeks, I can't imagine having that kind of self-restraint, so we're just going to have to speculate about that one.


If you're not dairy-free Paleo, do try using half grass-fed butter and half coconut oil in this recipe. It's wonderful either way, but I feel the butter adds a dept and roundness to the caramel that's just a bit extra-special!
Getting perfect caramel - I find the trick is to set aside plenty of time, and not rush it. While you can cook this recipe in a saucepan directly on a burner and have it come out fine, the faster cooking process leaves less margin for error with reaching the perfect temperature without exceeding it, and it can be possible to scorch the mixture if the burner is too hot. Using a double-burner is certainly slower, but allows a lot more forgiveness with reaching the perfect temperature and consistency.


Calories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 80mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 6IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg