I am a huge fan of chocolate turtles! It is really difficult to resist those tiny turtles made with caramel and pecans all wrapped up in chocolate and during the holidays I often go through a few boxes of them. When I came across this recipe for cranberry turtle bars on No Fear Entertaining last year I knew that I would have to make them! You really can’t go wrong with buttery shortbread topped with caramel, pecans and chocolate and I was really intrigued by the idea of throwing those tart little cranberries into the mix as well. Unfortunately I misplaced the bookmark and did not end up finding it until there were no cranberries left and I have been patiently awaiting their return. Now that the cranberries are back I finally got the chance to make them and they were well worth the wait!
This recipe can seem a little intimidating given that it includes making a caramel sauce but if you have a candy thermometer it is actually quite easy. I was really looking forward to trying this recipe out because of the caramel sauce and the way that the fresh cranberries are thrown right into the caramel as it cooks. Up until now I had only tried adding simple things like vanilla extract or salt to caramel and I was interested to see how the fresh cranberries would work.
The cranberry turtle bars turned out even better than I had hoped for! The shortbread was nice and light and buttery and good! The cranberry caramel sauce was definitely the star of the show however with its amazing crimson colour. I was really pleased with the way the cranberries flavour and colour infused the caramel sauce and it had the perfect consistency being neither too runny nor too chewy. Of course the pecans and chocolate finished everything off nicely! I did not think that you could improve of chocolate turtles but adding cranberries to the mix did just that! With the success of adding cranberries to a caramel sauce I am now thinking about what else can be added to caramel!
Cranberry Turtle Bars
Shortbread bars covered in a cranberry caramel and drizzled with chocolate.
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
- Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and blend.
- Add the butter and process until it forms pea sized lumps.
- Sprinkle the mixture into a 10×15 inch baking pan that has been lined with foil and greased, and press the mixture down.
- Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven until golden brown, about 15-17 minutes then set aside to cool.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan.
- Mix in the sugar, corn syrup and salt and bring to a boil.
- Simmer until the mixture turns a nice golden amber in colour and reaches 245F on a candy thermometer.
- Mix in the cranberries and return to 245F.
- Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla and pecans.
- Quickly spread the mixture over the shortbread and the let it cool completely.
- Melt the chocolate, place it in a small plastic bag, cut a small piece out of the corner and pipe the chocolate onto the bars.