Decadent, chewy, chocolate caramel candy with health benefits? Yep. Dates are a whole food — they’re rich in fiber, packed with vitamins, and a great source of potassium and calcium.
Note: You or someone you know doesn’t like dates? I have yet to meet a date-hater who didn’t love these! This recipe will make around 15 turtles — my bet is you’ll want to double it!
- 8 ounces (1/2 pound or about 1 cup, packed) soft Medjool dates, pitted (be sure your dates are sticky and moist)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more for topping
- Heaping ¾ cup of non-dairy semisweet or dark chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Chips)
- 1½ teaspoons coconut oil or vegetable oil (coconut oil will, predictably, give them a faint coconut taste, so go with vegetable oil if you don't want that)
- 1 cup pecan halves
- In a food processor, blend the pitted dates until a sticky ball starts to form (patience -- this could take a few minutes and several times scraping down the sides of the food-processor bowl with a spoon to keep things moving)! If your dates are sticky and moist, you should have no problem, but if necessary, add a ½ to 1 teaspoon of warm water while pulsing.
- Once you have a paste starting to form, add the ¼ teaspoon of salt and continue to pulse until everything is well combined (it's okay if it's not perfectly blended and creamy). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- In a double boiler over a medium heat (or in the microwave in 40-second intervals), melt the chocolate and your oil of choice together.
- On a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, arrange pecan halves in groups of four (these are your turtle's four legs -- you can add additional pecan pieces if you're a stickler for anatomical accuracy and want to represent the head and tail, but I find four work best).
- Scoop a heaping teaspoon of date caramel into a mound in the middle of the pecans to make the body of the turtle. Push down on the date-caramel mound so that it holds the pecans in place.
- Using a spoon, coat the whole fellow in melted chocolate, leaving the ends of the pecans uncovered.
- Top turtles with a sprinkle of sea salt. I don't recommend skipping this step -- it's the salty/sweet contrast that makes these so decadent.
- Transfer baking sheet to refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow turtles to set up. Serve turtles taken directly from fridge, or let them come to room temperature if preferred. Store in container in freezer or fridge.