These healthier Chocolate Covered Date Caramels are made in a food processor for a no-bake, better-for-you candy! We made a Chocolate Date Turtle style version and a “sweet heart” version; both are a breeze to make. Surprise your friends and family with a little box of these adorable candies!Jump to Recipe
What is a Turtle Candy?
Turtles candies are bite-sized candies made up of pecan halves, caramel, and chocolate that were originally invented in 1918 by Demet’s Candy Company. They are named as such, because when you pile the chocolate and caramel on top of the pecans in the right way (with four pecans sticking out as legs), it looks like the shell of a little turtle! While we stopped at one pecan in this recipe, simply place additional pecans in an ‘X’ pattern in a ball of the filling, leaving half of the pecans hanging over the edges.
Healthier Chocolate Turtles
I love Turtles chocolate, but not all the added sugar. With that in mind, I set out to nail a healthier turtle chocolate recipe….and I did it! The secret? Dates!
Dates are fun. No not that type of date (although Valentine’s Day is approaching… and dates are fun, possibly more so than the fruit). While dates are a concentrated source of sugar, they’re considered a lower glycemic than refined sugars and whole dates have added fibre which most sweeteners lack. We used cute heart shaped cookie cutters a to make these extra special, but any shape will do! Rolling them into balls and pressing a pecan into the middle works as well (place four pecans closer to the sides to create that classic turtle shape).
Are Dates Healthy?
Have you ever wondered how dates grow? Dates actually grow on trees, called Date Palms, in clusters much like grapes and are native to the Middle East. The dates we see at the grocery store are a semi-dried version of their previously fresh selves, and while they look SO WEIRD (right?), they really are incredible little things. Resist scurrying past them in the grocery store!
There are many types of dates; we use Medjool dates in our recipes. They are bigger and softer and more “caramely” than other date varieties. We don’t like to play favourites, but…
So to answer my original question, “are dates healthy?”. Dates contain small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus along with copper and vitamin B6, and each serving of 2 dates contains around 3 grams of fibre. Because they are a dehydrated version of their fresh counterpart, much like other dried fruit, they are concentrated in sugars.I use them in a lot of my recipes to add a whole-food source of sweetness!
Healthier Valentine’s Day Treats
These Chocolate Covered Date Turtles make the PERFECT Valentine’s Day treat to a friend or loved one. If you want some more ideas, here are some of my favourites that are sure to bring the love.
- Thumbprint Heart Cookies
- Chocolate Coconut Love Bites
- Homemade Chocolate Bark
- Salted Chocolate Coconut Macaroons
If you happen to make this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #fraicheliving and leave a comment or star rating below, letting me know how you enjoyed it!
Chocolate Covered Date Caramels
Chocolate Covered Date Caramels
These little Chocolate Covered Date Caramels with a "turtle" version are easy, no-bake and have a healthier twist than the store-bought version. Your friend and loved ones will be so surprised with these cute treats!
- 3 cups pitted Medjool dates
- 1 cup pecan halves, plus extra for decorating
- ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup dark chocolate chunks (or wafers or discs)
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- Flaked sea salt (we use Maldon)
In a food processor, combine the dates and pecans and pulse until almost smooth. Add the graham cracker crumbs, vanilla and salt and pulse again until well combined, and no chunks remain.
Transfer the mixture to the center of a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface. Place another piece of parchment paper on top and using a rolling pin, roll out to an even thickness, a little more than ¼" thick. Transfer the pressed mixture to a baking sheet (with the parchment) and refrigerate for one hour.
Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave, mixing every 20 seconds or so, until melted. Remove the date mixture from the fridge. Remove the top piece of parchment paper, and using a small cookie cutter, cut desired shapes out of the mixture, setting each aside on a plate or piece of parchment paper (dip the cookie cutter in hot water if needed between cuts to make it easier). You can either re-roll and cut the scraps to create more or simply roll them into balls and press an additional pecan in them. Alternately you can skip the cookie cutter all-together and just roll them in balls.
Place a cooling rack on top of a piece of parchment paper. Using a fork, dip each of the date candies in the melted chocolate and transfer to the cooling rack to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Sprinkle lightly with a pinch of flaked sea salt and repeat. Transfer the caramels back to a the baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until firm before eating. These store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 month.