My Dad’s love for the caramel filled, pecan bottom, chocolate covered treat, otherwise known as the Nestlé Turtle, runs deep. Not as deep as his love for jujubes, but pretty close.
It’s tradition that Dad get a box of Turtles every single Christmas. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. Even after the 26+ years he’s received them, the smile that spreads across his face as the wrapping paper is torn away from the package is priceless. Even though he loves this Christmas treat so very much, he never went a Christmas without sharing a couple with us (and I snuck a couple when he wasn’t looking… obviously)
If you aren’t familiar with the Turtle, here’s a visual:
Turtles and Christmas go hand in hand in our family so when I stopped eating dairy those many years ago, it was sad that I couldn’t join in the fun with the rest of the family.
Thanks to a bit of creativity and day dreaming of the day I’d get to enjoy a turtle again, I’ll never have to miss out on the Turtle tradition again. And hey, Dad may even like these better!
Cut medjool dates in half lengthwise and remove pits.
Shape each piece into a circle with your fingers. The dates should be squishy enough that this will be really, really easy to do.
Lay the date circles on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, sticky side up.
Press 4 pecan halves into the center of the date circles, fanning them out to look like a flower.
Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or saucepan with a bowl over top.
Spoon ½ teaspoon of melted chocolate into the middle of the fan of pecans. Flip the turtle over and press down gently so that the chocolate touches the parchment paper.
Repeat with remaining date circles and place in the freezer for 5 minutes to harden. You can keep the chocolate warm my placing back in the hot water bath.
Drop each turtle into the melted chocolate and move around until it's back is covered. Remove from the bowl and place back on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining and let cool in the freezer for 10 minutes for the chocolate to harden.
I highly recommend using medjool dates over honey dates because they're a lot more pliable.
Feel free to use any nut you have on hand.
You could also try making your own chocolate and using it instead of store bought.
View nutrition information (once on page, scroll down)
I ended up having to use chocolate chips from the corner store that were passover safe, so didn’t have any lecithin or dairy. As I mentioned in the notes above, you could also try making your own chocolate (like I did for these Skor bars) so that you can sweeten with non-refined sugars like coconut nectar or honey.
You’ll want to begin by cutting the dates in half lengthwise and removing the pit. Then, shape each half into circles… think: turtle shell.
After that, squish 4 pecan halves into each shell.
Drop a bit of melted chocolate into the middle of each.
Then flip over onto the parchment paper and squish down so that the chocolate peaks out on the sides like in the picture on the left below.
Once the turtles have had a bit of time to harden in the freezer, dip them in chocolate face-side-down and roll them around a little.
Place completed turtles on a clean sheet of parchment and repeat with remaining shells.
Let them chill out for a bit in the freezer and then serve to your kids as a treat, bring along to a Christmas party, or package them up in a little Christmas tins for a super simple Christmas present for your friends!
Does your family have a tradition that they follow every year around this time?