These Gooey Turtle Bars are crisp, buttery shortbread covered in a layer of gooey caramel, and topped with chocolate and pecans. Is there anything better?!
It’s crunch time! I have five more classes as a college freshman, one more test, 2 more essays, 2 more projects, and one final. It’s seriously weird that it’s almost over.
I feel like it was just yesterday that I was incredibly sick, wondering how in the world I would be able to choose a school to go to, and pretty much throwing a shot into the dark and coming to Washington. It’s weird how everything just falls into place.
I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve ever had here (two of which I’ll be going to Mexico with at the end of May!! Woohoo…viva Mexico!), joined a sorority (Alpha Phi!), studied my butt off, and taken extremely random classes. It’s been a great year, just off to think that 1/4 of my college career is over. When people say that the older you get, the faster time goes, they aren’t kidding.
And I’m not sure I like it!
But time isn’t slowing, so time to not take one thing for granted, to enjoy every moment I have with the people I love, and make the most of the next three years I have in college.
This summer will be a blast, and I’m so excited. I’m going to road trip home from Washington to San Diego (follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@rachelconners) for all the pictures of that adventure) and then Mexico, and then working, baking, blogging, and having tons of fun with all my best friends for the rest of the summer. It’ll be a blast, so stick around here and enjoy it with me through some delicious food, alright?!
These bars are everything you want in a bar – chewy, crunchy, sticky, chocolatey, nutty, tender, and absolutely scrumptious. The caramel is not hard to make, so don’t be scared away by that! These aren’t difficult, but people will think they are, so feel free to brag all you want. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe except to put the pecans on top instead of the middle, but that was all for aesthetics. Keep them in the middle, or throw them on top! Either way is delicious. Hope you enjoy!
Gooey Turtle Bars
For the shortbread
- 14 tablespoons 1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup 3.5 ounces sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups 9 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
For the caramel/chocolate layers
- 1 3/4 cups 12.25 ounces packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey or light corn syrup
- 3/8 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon for coarse or flaky sea salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 tablespoons 1 stick unsalted butter
- One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups 7 ounces whole pecan halves, toasted
- 6 ounces milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate coarsely chopped, or 1 cup milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips
For the Shortbread
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line the pan as specified in the individual recipe with foil.
- In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter with the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Don’t worry if the dough seems too soft or oily. Press and smooth the dough evenly over the bottom of a parchment or aluminum foil-lined, greased pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is a rich golden brown with well-browned darker edges. Let cool on a rack before proceeding as directed in the recipe.
For the caramel & chocolate layers
- Prepare the shortbread crust as directed.
- In a heavy 2- to 3-quart saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the brown sugar, honey, salt, and water. Set on medium heat and add in the butter. Stir constantly with a heatproof spatula, scraping the corners and bottom of the pan as the butter melts. From time to time, scrape the mixture off the spatula against the top edge of the pan and scrape the sides of the pan clean.
- Bring the mixture to a medium boil and continue stirring and scraping the pan for about 3 minutes, dissolving the sugar.
- Stir in the condensed milk and return the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, scraping the sides, corners, and bottom of the pan to ensure that your caramel doesn't burn. Adjust the heat so the mixture boils actively but not too furiously. Continue stirring and cooking until the mixture registers 235°F on a candy thermometer. Total cooking time will be close to 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Scrape the hot caramel over the warm crust.
- Tilt the pan to level the caramel. Scatter the toasted pecans and chopped chocolate over the surface and set aside until the caramel is cool and the chocolate is set. (I let the caramel set slightly, and then spread melted chocolate over the caramel, and sprinkled the pecans on top. Feel free to use either method, both work wonderfully!)
- Slice the bars into relatively small pieces, they're very sweet. I've found their easier to slice when chilled. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week. Enjoy!