Turtle Cookie Bars

by Erin @ Food Doodles on December 16, 2019

These turtle cookie bars have a shortbread crust, a caramel and pecan layer and are topped off with chocolate.

I’ll be posting sweets from now until Christmas. I hope nobody minds. 😀

These turtle cookie bars are quite a bit sweeter than the treats I usually post on my other blog, Texanerin Baking. I really recommend topping the bars with dark chocolate to cut the sweetness!

Easy and delicious turtle cookie barsIf you don’t like dark chocolate, semi-sweet works but then you’ll want to cut these bars much smaller. Milk chocolate would be way too sweet!

I used melted chocolate + a little coconut oil on top of the bars but you could also just toss on some chocolate chips for a quicker version. 

You could also toss on chocolate chips while the bars are still hot and then make the layer of chocolate that way.

Using a little bit of coconut oil just makes the topping a little softer. It doesn’t change the taste at all.

When mixing up the shortbread crust dough, you’ll just have crumbs. It won’t resemble a dough at all. Make sure it’s well combined and then press it firmly into the pan. 

For the flour, you can use white whole wheat flour or this 1-to-1 Gluten-free Baking Flour. You could also try another one that’s meant as a 1-to-1 sub for wheat flour but since I haven’t tried it, I can’t be sure that it works.

For another gluten-free Thanksgiving dessert, try this gluten-free pecan pie.

I didn’t try making a dairy-free or vegan version of these because I’ve always had a hard time subbing coconut oil for butter in crusts and caramel. It’s doable but takes a bit of testing.

When you take the bars out of the oven, the topping indeed looks a bit odd. It’ll have some little indentations in it. It’s totally normal!

For some more Christmas treats, check out these chocolate orange puddle cookies, triple ginger cookies or these gluten-free thumbprint cookies.

Turtle Cookie Bars (gluten-free option)
  • 6 tablespoons (84 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (188 grams) white whole wheat flour or 1 1/2 cups (207 grams) of Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-free Baking Flour
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 6 tablespoons (75 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (138 grams) pecans or walnuts, chopped to about 1/4 inch (2/3 cm)
  • 1 cup (170 grams) dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons refined coconut oil (unrefined is fine if you don't mind a little coconut taste)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line an 8 × 8-inch (20 × 20 cm) baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on opposite ends.
  2. Prepare the crust. In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the salt and flour. The mixture will resemble crumbs and will not come together as dough. Press firmly onto the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Prepare the topping. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, and then add the sugar and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring almost constantly. Boil for 90 seconds, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in the pecans. Pour the caramel nut mixture over the crust and bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until the caramel is bubbly.
  4. Put the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds, until melted. Spread over the bars.

  5. Let cool, cover and store at room temperature for up to 5 days. Can also be frozen.

Leave a Comment

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Holly September 8, 2020 at 15:45

Hi Erin! What would you say is the main difference taste wise, texture wise and sweetness factor between these and our all-time favorite recipe on Texanerin.com which is your Gfree chocolate dipped brown sugar shortbread (OMGosh! If someone’s reading this and they haven’t made that go do it immediately and I dare you not to eat the whole batch in one setting 🤭) Anyhoo, I just wanted your feedback on that because you’re so good at explaining taste and texture etc if things. Thanks!

Also, do you have a Paleo pecan pie recipe that really does have that sweet gooeyness (I know-not a word) of old fashioned pecan pie? I haven’t found that yet and I’ve tried so many recipes and if anyone can do it, you can! I saw your link above and I haven’t clicked on it yet but usually gluten-free pecan pie still contains white sugar or corn syrup. I’m looking for a recipe that’s a touch cleaner but still sweet and gooey with a good crust. Your crusts are always so good! Thanks in advance!


2 Erin @ Food Doodles September 10, 2020 at 14:06

Hello! These are waaay sweeter. These are of a regular sweetness. I can only eat a small square before I’ve had enough. I like the crust a lot but prefer the shortbread. Honestly, I’d stick to the shortbread. 😉 They’re also my favorite. I’m sad to say that I can’t make them unless several people are around because I eat 4/5 of the batch before the chocolate even hardens. :/ I’ve attempted paleo pecan pie every fall for several years and the results were always terrible because the filling would make the crust soggy. I don’t even like pecan pie so my motivation is low but I’ve tried maybe 20 times. Ugh. Sorry I can’t be more of a help!


3 Holly September 11, 2020 at 03:45

Thanks so much for the feedback Erin!


4 Erin @ Food Doodles September 11, 2020 at 08:13

You’re welcome! By the way, since we have different butter over here and things sometimes come out differently, can you tell me if your shortbread is slightly chewy or totally crisp? And with what flour? I used US butter when I made that recipe and believe it was crisp but I just realized I didn’t write about the texture in the post. With European butter and Bob’s 1:1 GF, they’re ever just so slightly chewy and perfect.


5 Charlotte Moore December 16, 2019 at 19:01

I am sure these are very tasty.


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