Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

With chopped pecans on the outside, a caramel filling and chocolate all around, these Turtle Thumbprint Cookies are hard NOT to love!

Chocolate, nuts, and caramel are the ultimate trio! If you need more of this combo, try our Snickers Brownie Bites, or Turtle Cheesecake!

Turtle cookies on a white plate

Just Like Turtle Candy!

Hi, it’s me – Lily! Have you had a good week?

I’m excited to share today’s recipe with you! It’s Turtle Thumbprint Cookies. They taste just like turtle candies, which are basically pecan clusters covered in caramel and chocolate. These cookies have a chocolate dough, are rolled in crushed pecans, and then filled with yummy caramel, so you get all the same flavors!

If you are baking cookies for Christmas, you may want to try this one, especially if you love chocolate and caramel. 😉

Chocolate turtle cookie dough in a mixing bowl

How to Make Turtle Cookies

PREP. Preheat oven to 350.

DOUGH. Mix flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl and set aside. Beat butter and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix well.

CHILL. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

NUTS. Mix 2 egg whites in a bowl until frothy. Place chopped pecans in another bowl. Roll chilled dough into 1 – 1½ inch balls, dip in egg whites and then roll into the pecans. Place on a greased baking sheet.

THUMBPRINT. Use ½ teaspoon spoon to make a cave in the center of each ball.

BAKE. Bake for 11-12 minutes. Let cool.

CARAMEL. Place caramels and cream in a small bowl and microwave until smooth, stopping and stirring occasionally. Fill indentations in cookie with caramel mixture.

DRIZZLE. Melt candy coating by placing in a small pot on low heat and stirring constantly. Pour chocolate into a ziploc bag with the corner cut and drizzle over cookies. Let set.

Turtle pecan thumbprint cookies on a baking sheet

Recipe Notes and Tips

Chilling the dough is important because as you can see from the picture it is fairly stickly. When the dough is chilled it is much easier to roll into balls. 

Another reason you want chilled dough is because it helps the outside of the cookie bake more quickly then the inside leaving a soft brownie like center. It’s absolutely delicious when paired with the soft caramel.  

Finally, chilling the dough keeps it from spreading. You really want to have a nice thick cookie so you can fill the center with smooth caramel. 

Best way to separate the eggs: I like to break the shell in half. I allow the whites to fall into a bowl as I move the yolk back and forth between the two shells.  Another easy way is to crack the egg into one hand , with your fingers slightly spread apart to allow the whites to fall through. 

Additional Tips:

  • Gently press the nuts into the dough to help them stick better
  • Add a sprinkle of sea salt to the top of caramel 
  • Drizzle the chocolate on in designs. You can do a swirl or an overlapping plaid design.
  • Leftover melted caramel can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Use on sliced apples, crackers or ice cream.

Measuring spoon making an indent in the turtle cookie

The ½ teaspoon measuring spoon works perfectly!!

Storage Tips

Baked Cookies: Baked cookies can be STORED in an airtight container at room temperature. To FREEZE, allow the baked cookies to cool and set. Place cookies in a freezer safe container, separating layers with wax paper. Freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw before eating.

Unbaked Cookies: You can FREEZE them by rolling the dough into balls, but not in the nuts. Place them on a baking sheet and then put them in the freezer. Once solid, transfer them to a freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. To bake: Allow the dough to thaw for 30 minutes before rolling in nuts and continuing with the recipe. 

Turtle thumbprint cookies piled on a white plate

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Turtle Thumbprint Cookie Recipe

4.91 from 10 votes
With chopped pecans on the outside, a caramel filling and chocolate all around, these Turtle Thumbprint Cookies are hard NOT to love!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Refridgerate 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 26 minutes
Servings 24 cookies
Calories 166 kcal
Author Lil' Luna

Ingredients

Cookie

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (1 egg with egg and yolk separated + 1 additional egg white)
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Caramel Filling

  • 14 Kraft Caramels
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream

Chocolate Drille

  • 2 squares Chocolate Candy Coating

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Mix flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  • Beat butter and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Mix until well combined.
  • Add dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Mix 2 egg whites in a bowl until frothy. Place chopped pecans in another bowl.
  • Roll chilled dough into 1 - 1½ inch balls, dip in egg whites and then roll into the pecans. Place on a greased baking sheet.
  • Use ½ teaspoon spoon to make a cave in the center of each ball.
  • Bake for 11-12 minutes. Let cool.
  • Place caramels and cream in a small bowl and microwave until smooth, stopping and stirring occasionally.
  • Fill indentations in cookie with caramel mixture.
  • Melt candy coating by placing in a small pot on low heat and stirring constantly. Pour chocolate into a ziploc bag with the corner cut and drizzle over cookies. Let set.

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About the Author

Kristyn Merkley

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Comments:

  1. Wow Lily. You sure did have a good day yesterday – great. I hope the rest of the week and of course Christmas is wonderful for you and your family. Thank you

  2. I’m so glad you had a great pary. Thank you for the delicious looking cookies. I will definitely be giving these a try. Happy Holidays!

  3. I love turtles, and I love cookies! So these must be the best cookies ever! I’m totally making these! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Hi Lily!
    Love the site..
    Question on Turtle Thumbprint cookies
    How far in advance cake I make them?
    Btw, I am also making the Pecan Cheesecake..

    1. Thank you so much! We like fresh cookies, so I wouldn’t make them too far in advance. You could do them the day before & they’d be fine or even a couple days. Any more than that, I would just freeze them, maybe? Hope that helps!

  5. 4 stars
    I made these this evening and am waiting for tHem to cool. I have a couple questions about the reciPe. Do you cool the cookies on the cookie Sheet or on a rack? How big should the indentation be? The cookies seemed a little moist when i took them out, is that normal? What i mean is they aren’t necessarily firm like some other cookies.

    1. I use a 1/2 teaspoon to make the indention. I just press it in to make the whole. They firm up a little, but no, they aren’t hard. Hope that all helps 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    Checked out quite a few recipes for turtle thumbprints, and this one was by far the best for me. Steps were explained and easy to understand with easy to get ingredients. Ran out of pecans so I used walnuts. Worked well. These are easy to make and most people like them.

  7. 5 stars
    My brother absolutely loved these, and so did I. Almost like a brownie with drizzled chocolate and caramel. Very good. I will definitely make these again!