Mama's Turtle Cookies (And Last Minute Christmas Crafting)


It seems the holiday elves have decided to show up at our house after all. I was a bit worried when the baking didn't begin until this weekend and the stockings were barren until yesterday afternoon, but it seems that they are making up for lost time by going into baking overdrive as I type--the sugar cookie dough is currently in the refrigerator and all the ingredients for gingerbread are safely inside our apartment. I am done shopping, done making gifts, and done decorating but I am definitely not done baking. And not done crafting. I'm just getting started.

And let's not talk about the gift wrapping that hasn't happened at all. Ack! Or the fact that I think I'll probably end up wrapping the gifts from the landing at the top of our front stairs because I don't think I can make all that crinkly paper noise while the little one sleeps. And, as you fellow parents know, I'd rather wrap everything in quiet pillow cases than risk waking my sweet toddler from his naps! Maybe they have Christmas pillow cases I could use? I digress.

But one of my favorite things about Christmas is all the baking that's part of the merriment. This year I am tackling three baking recipes--Mama's Turtle Cookies, sugar cookie cutouts, and loaves of gingerbread--and I like this part very much. I usually also like the gift wrapping very much but this year that is going to be a fond memory as I wrap the above mentioned gifts from our front porch while bundled in scarf, coat, and hat. Geesh.

But back to the cookies! What I really wanted to share with you today is my mama's recipe for Turtle Cookies. Because they are like a giant candy bar for adults and who doesn't need a giant candy bar this time of year? Okay, maybe this isn't about needing a candy bar but about not being able to resist. So who can resist a homemade candy bar complete with chocolate and caramel? Not me. It makes me weak in the knees.

(Disclaimer: Apologies, I'm not sure where she originally found this recipe so I can't give due credit but it's stamped 10/15/01 so that puts me safely before the time of food blogs so I think I'm safe. Phew. Cookie copyright.)

Now, this is the way my mama sends handwritten recipes so it's the way I'm passing it on to you--just a list of ingredients and a few details in their midst. Don't worry, I'll fill in the instructions because I know some of you might want more details. (Don't worry, mama, you don't have to blog. I promise!) And while this is not going to turn into a baking blog it is fun to share some favorite kitchen crafts as the holidays descend.

Mama's Turtle Cookies

Crust--(This means combine all of the below ingredients into one large bowl and stir. I stirred by hand and broke the butter chunks into tiny pieces with my fingers until it resembled cornmeal but you could also use an electronic mixer. Stir until combined. Then pat crust into the bottom of a 9x13" pan.)
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter, softened
Caramel Layer--Stir constantly over medium heat. Boil 1 minute. (This means stir constantly over medium heat until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Then boil for just 1 minute and don't stop stirring! Once it's boiled for 1 minute turn it off and transfer it to the pan. Pour caramel layer on crust.)
  • 2/3 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
Then, on the side of the card my mama wrote:
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup whole pecans (But I ground our pecans so my toddler could eat them too.)
Then she writes: Pat crust into 9x13" pan. Add pecans. Pour caramel over. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Then she signs off, "M-m-good."

Gosh, I love her. These cookies are delicious! And they are pretty forgiving to bake--just be sure to pat the crust layer into your pan, then pour the caramel, and then when you add the pecans try not to stir anything up so you don't lose those pretty layers. I added the chocolate chips when it first came out of the oven so they melted quickly. And I was careful when spreading the chocolate to not dip down too far into the pecan layer. But really--easy peasy.

Okay, I must go prepare the sugar cookies before my little one wakes. And tomorrow it's all about the gingerbread and I'm so excited for the gingerbread I could squeal. (Hey, it's the little things that get us through these chaotic Christmas weeks, right? Right. This year it's gingerbread.)

If you're as contented by last minute crafting as yours truly--I admit, I have all the fabric to make a new dress tucked on the edge of my desk just in case I have a few extra hours that magically appear before Christmas--then you might want to check out my DIY tutorial on how to make Christmas stockings from a wool skirt. The first year I made two stockings on Christmas Eve so it can be done.

Merry Christmas, my friends! May you eat too many sugary treats, cry just a little over something sentimental, and wear your pajamas for the better part of the day.



  1. Anonymous12/27/2013

    Mama has a new winner recipe this year. Gourmet Pretzel Brownies! (with choc. icing!)
    13 yrd old G-daughter Maryn said....wow, this is like a party in my mouth!
    And, they are addictive. I'll send it along. Happy New Year!!

    1. my dear mama! i will hold tight to the turtle cookies recipe for now. imagining that the pretzels might make their way into my future. happy holidays from across the (too) many miles. xoxxoh.


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