My sister came by to help me assemble these. And eat them. It was a fun little project to do together. We were discussing what kind of turtle these would be (box, snapping, etc.) and decided on sea turtles because of the addition of sea salt. I thought it made a cute recipe title so that's what I decided to name it!
The contrasting salty flavor work really well to break up any overwhelmingly sweet bites. Meaning they never get boring. Meaning you can keep eating them until you've consumed portions much larger than any sane human would possibly eat. Whether or not that's a good thing is for you to decide although, I'm all for it!
To make these dairy free, I made a basic date caramel instead of using traditional caramel. Date caramel is made from dates that have been soaked/softened and pureed down into a paste (or sauce depending on how thin you need your caramel). Dates are naturally very sweet and have somewhat of a caramel flavor. They're definitely not the same as caramel but they really make a delicious substitute.
These are probably going in my holiday cookie tins this year. No, they're not cookies but I'm having a hard time figuring out the gluten free cookie thing. I do make a fail-proof recipe from PaleOMG every year for chocolate chunk cookies. I also have a recipe for lemon ginger cookies that I've been using for probably eight or nine years now and in the past, I've been able to just swap out the wheat flour for all purpose gluten free flour. Last year, I bought a different brand of flour and they were terrible. They tasted fine but they just crumbled apart.
So if I buy the correct flour this time, I should be fine. However, I want to have my own recipe too. Before Christmas would be nice. I've only been trying the past 3 years... I'm currently working on Sunbutter cookies but I just can't get that dense, chewy layer in the middle that the best traditional peanut butter cookies have. I've wasted a ton of Sunbutter on failed recipes (hence the delay since my last post) but I really think I know the problem this time and I'm dying to try it again!
- 24 dates
- 1 ½ C hot water (or just enough to cover dates)
- ¼ C carton coconut milk
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 ¼ C pecan halves
- 1 ½ C dark chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- Remove the pits from the dates and allow to soak in hot water for about 30 minutes, or until softened.
- Once softened, discard the water from the dates and place dates and ⅛ teaspoon salt in a food processor. Blend until smooth, adding the coconut milk a tablespoon at a time. You may not end up needing all of the coconut milk - the texture should be smooth but not runny.
- Lay out a large sheet of parchment paper and use 4 pecan halves to make an "X" shape. Continue to do this until you have around 30-35 Xs.
- Use a spoon to drop about a half tablespoon of the date caramel onto the the center of each X. Use your finger, if necessary, to make sure the caramel touches part of each pecan half. Depending on the size of your dates, you may end up with more or less completed turtles.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate pieces on high for 30 seconds then stir. Repeat until chocolate is completely melted which should take 1 ½ to 2 minutes total. Be careful as the chocolate and bowl will get really hot.
- Use a spoon to cover the caramel center of each turtle. Sprinkle a little coarse sea salt on the chocolate center of each turtle once the chocolate has almost solidified. If the salt gets added while the chocolate is too runny, the salt will sink down into the chocolate instead of setting neatly on top.
- Once the chocolate is completely solidified, serve and enjoy!
I used Enjoy Life brand dark chocolate chips since they are free from most common allergens. I'd definitely recommend them if you have a soy allergy - it's hard to find soy-free chocolate!