Normally, when I want a baked good, I prefer to just make it myself rather than buy it. That said, every once in awhile, I don’t mind letting someone else do the work for me. Josh and I made the pilgrimage to Cleveland’s Little Italy last Friday to indulge in some fancy desserts from Presti’s. Josh chose a chocolate-coated raspberry mousse, and I was just barely able to limit myself to a chocolate cannoli and a turtle shortbread cookie (sorry, no pictures because I am a human vacuum when it comes to dessert). The turtle cookie seemed like such a clever idea that I couldn’t get it out of my head all weekend. I came up with the idea for this recipe while driving to the grocery store the next day (good timing).
The turtle cookie from Presti’s is essentially a pecan sandy with caramel and chocolate drizzled on top. I could have recreated their cookie, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I decided to turn an oatmeal raisin cookie (specifically, Quaker’s Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin cookie) into a chocolate turtle. I switched out the raisins for a mix of chocolate chips and chopped pecans and increased the volume of mix-ins to make it crunchier. For a bit of added panache, I stuck half of a melting caramel in the center of each cookie and then pressed a pecan half into the melted caramel once the cookies had baked.
I’m still a little undecided on how I feel about using the melting caramels. It is possible that mine were extra hard because they were really old, but I found them to be a bit too chewy once the cookies had cooled. To be fair, turtles (the chocolate kind) are typically chewy, so it’s not all that weird. That said, I think next time I might try it with butterscotch chips mixed in instead. If you get to it before I do, let me know how it turns out!
I should note that I did make a mistake while writing the recipe. Somewhere along the way, I added an extra stick of butter. Surprisingly, it didn’t really seem to affect the final product, but if you’d rather save some calories, you can just as easily make this recipe with 1¾ sticks of butter. I’ve written it as I made it, so it’s up to you to decide if you’d like to correct my mistake.
You will need the following ingredients:
For the cookies:
- 2¾ sticks unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 cups rolled oats (regular or quick-cooking)
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¾ cup chocolate chips
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 26 caramel cubes, halved
- 52 pecan halves for decorating
- 4 oz. chocolate for melting (optional)
For baking ambiance:
- I can’t remember if I’ve already suggested the Smithereens or not (I very likely have), but I’ve been in the mood for them lately, so I’m going to suggest them again. Nothing like 90s-era, loud, angsty rock and roll to make you feel like you really deserve that high-calorie cookie. 😉
Let’s get baking!
Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two cookie sheets with foil or grease them.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until smooth.
Stir the dry ingredients, ⅓ at a time, into the wet ingredients until fully-incorporated.
Stir the chocolate chips and chopped pecans into the dough until they are evenly distributed.
Using a cookie scoop, form the dough into balls (approximately the size of golf balls). Press one half of a caramel cube into each ball and arrange the (now) flattened dough balls on the cookie sheets about 2″ apart.
Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until the bottoms start to brown and the caramels start to melt.
When the cookies come out of the oven, immediately press one pecan half in the center of each melted caramel piece.
Leave the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, then carefully transfer them to cooling racks to cool completely.
When the cookies are cool (or when you just can’t wait anymore), melt the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate (I used leftover Easter chocolate) in a double boiler or the microwave. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookies and leave it to harden.
Store the cookies in an airtight container, separating each layer with waxed paper.
You can download the printable PDF here: Turtle Oatmeal Cookies