Butter Pecan Turtle Cookies – Mid-Century Recipe Guest Test Sunday

Posted on Dec 15 2013 - 5:00am by Erica

When Retro Ruth emailed me this advertisement, I literally whooped with joy. It’s rare that a retro recipe looks like a winner from the beginning — but how can you go wrong with butter, sugar, chocolate, and pecans?


Assuming there’s no nut allergies.

Butter Pecan Turtle Cookies
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ c. Land O Lakes Sweet Cream Butter, softened
Caramel Layer
  • ⅔ c. Land O Lakes Sweet Cream Butter
  • ½ c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 c. whole pecan halves (not chopped)
  • 1 c. milk chocolate chips
  1. Preheat Oven: 350°. In 3 qt. bowl combine crust ingredients. Mix at med. speed, scraping sides of bowl often, 2-3 min. or until well mixed and particles are fine. Pat firmly into ungreased 13x9x2" pan. Sprinkle pecans evenly over unbaked crust. Prepare caramel layer; pour evenly over pecans and crust. Bake near center of 350° oven for 18-22 min., or until entire caramel layer is bubbly and crust is light golden brown. Remove from oven. Immediately sprinkle with chips. Allow chips to melt slightly (2-3 min.). Slightly swirl chips as they melt; leave some whole for a marbled effect. Do not spread chips. Cool completely; cut into 3-4 doz. bars.
  2. Caramel Layer: In heavy 1-qt. saucepan combine brown sugar and butter. Cook over med. heat, stirring constantly, until entire surface of mixture begins to boil. Boil ½ to 1 min., stirring constantly.


When we started actually cooking, though, all that initial enthusiasm hit some skepticism. Is the crust really only butter, sugar, and flour?


Butter, sugar, and flour, when mixed, become sand. Seriously: sand. You could fill a playground with this.

OK, I guess it’s delicious sand, at least.


The caramel was much more predictable: butter and sugar, all melty and delicious.


The sand — cookie layer? — had to be thoroughly pressed into place to be sturdy, and then I put pecans (whole halves, not chopped!) all over the top. The hardest part was drizzling the caramel layer evenly so everything got coated.


I tried to sort of swirl and push the caramel around, but it was already cooling and solidifying. So I just threw it in the oven and hoped. And the oven just made it bubbly. Great. Lots of chocolate chips on top should cover that up! Yay! (And they melted pretty quickly, and then it took FOREVER to cool enough to eat without burnt tongues. We just won’t ask how I know that it was hot enough to burn my tongue.)


Our household turtle helped monitor the tasting so it’s all official.


This photo doesn’t do the cookie justice. He looks all mellow and calm, which doesn’t really convey the speed with which the cookie vanished and he reached for more…

The Verdict: Terrific. More turtles now please!

Tasting notes:

It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and caramel. The hardest part was waiting for these to cool. I kept wandering through the kitchen and chopping small pieces off the edge and saying, “MMMMMMM…. I mean, oh, darn, not done yet.” There’s really no reason to keep the pecan halves intact, though.

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Erica was inspired to learn to cook by a complete lack of home economics classes in high school, and a love of old books. When using antique cookbooks to teach herself some skills, she realized a lot of the recipes were pretty strange by modern standards. All that fun testing just begged to be shared with the world. Regular recipe testing can be found here on Mid-Century Menu, on Erica's Retro Recipe Attempts blog, and also I Ate The 80's.

4 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Erin December 28, 2013 at 9:02 am - Reply

    These look good! I might try these next week. You think it would be better to cream the sugar and butter together first, then add the flour or just mix it all at once?

    • Erica December 29, 2013 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      I generally cream the butter and sugar together first, but for these, you can probably mix the flour in at the same time. The consistency of the “batter” is quite unlike typical cookie dough!

  2. Gracie @ThoseThingsILov January 12, 2014 at 5:15 am - Reply

    It sounds like a caramel/chocolate topped shortbread? (my favorite cookie ever!)

    • Erica January 12, 2014 at 8:55 pm - Reply

      Not quite as buttery as really good shortbread, but definitely in the same “family” of cookie style!

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