Arkansas: Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Arkansas’s cookie is a caramel-stuffed chocolate crackle cookie rolled in chopped pecans.

Recipe source: http://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/how-to-make/chocolate-turtle-cookies-arkansas/


I bet by now it’s obvious this little quest of mine is going to take longer than a year to complete at this rate. Weekends seem like they fill up faster than I expected. Add to that raising a baby, planning said baby’s first birthday party, and buying a house… Once a month may be as good as it gets for a bit. Now that we’re going into summer, there’ll be plenty of days way too hot to bake. But anyway, I apologize for the wait.
I’ve made stuffed cookies before, a really delicious but overly sweet recipe for a caramel stuffed apple cider cookie that used an entire box of Alpine Apple Cider Mix. I don’t remember if it called for sugar on top of that, but it shouldn’t have, and someday I’ll tweak the recipe to use less of the mix. With sweet caramel in the middle, it’s just too much.
With chocolate, though? And pecans? Sign me up!

Those Brachs Milk Maid caramels were left over from Alabama’s peanut butter cookie. This time instead of chopping them up, we’re cutting them in half (I used kitchen shears) and softening them… Somehow. The recipe had no suggestions, so I tried microwaving for ten seconds. It still didn’t make much difference. More on that later.

I was getting serious chocolate cravings just thinking about baking these.

I bought chopped pecans, but they needed to be more chopped. I could’ve broken out the cutting board and chef knife and done that by hand, but why bother when I have this? 

This and a Slap Chop™ type device were hand downs from my in-laws. The slap chop “disappeared” long ago but I still use this.


Then the directions get a little iffy. They say to scoop out two tablespoon-sized balls of dough, flatten both, and I believe wrap both around one piece of caramel. These made pretty huge balls:

They said to roll top and sides in the nuts but I coated all sides, which is probably why I had to chop more later.

Look how big these suckers are!
Judging by the photos in the recipe, I don’t doubt that these are supposed to be large cookies, but I started doubting I’d get “18-20 cookies” out of this. One tablespoon sized ball of dough enveloped a piece of caramel no problem, so I switched to the smaller size for the second sheet.

Even the small ones took longer than stated to bake. The big ones I thought would never flatten.

Looking fine! But how about the inside? Ooey gooey caramel?

Um… Hmm…

Nice warm but self contained lump of caramel. Well, maybe I let the cookies cool too much before breaking one open. I microwaved another:

Nope.

This is the second time this caramel hasn’t behaved as expected. Maybe the quality of the caramel is the problem. These are supposed to be stable (and so not prone to melting), inexpensive candies. So I looked at the ingredient list. 

Caramel is simple stuff: melted sugar, and in a soft candy like this some cream, maybe a pinch of salt? Corn syrup?

White mineral oil?!

I’m not one of those people who is super concerned about “unpronounceable ingredients” in my food (lots of those are just chemical names for ordinary stuff) but that’s a little eh. 

So what alternative? King Arthur Flour has an 18 oz block of the good stuff, for $13 plus shipping. As for supermarket, it looks like Kraft caramels are closer to the real thing. I almost want to try putting a dollop from a jar of caramel sauce into the middle of a cookie. You could even do it thumbprint style (and mix the pecans into the dough?) to avoid having to contain liquid in a stuffed cookie. Ideas for next time.

Overall impression: read labels and choose a decent caramel! Otherwise a tasty cookie. The husband brought a few into work to good reviews.

Next time: MOAR SHORTBREAD! Almond Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies from California. It looks like they’re partially dipped in chocolate too. Yum!

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