dessert gluten-free vegan

Healthier Chocolate Turtles

December 31, 2013

The title of this post may be slightly misleading. I had every intention of healthifying one of my favourite holiday treats but was set back by the fact that I was completely out of pecans. My house never runs out of nuts, ever. I actually pride myself on the fact that my pantry is stocked with every type of nut and seed under the sun, except brazil nuts because I don’t know what those are.Β All I wanted were some damn chocolate turtles, but it just wasn’t going to happen.

healthier chocolate turtlesFortunately chocolate tastes awesome with any kind of nut and when you slather it with caramel date sauce, any thoughts of authenticity go out the window. In fact I may even go as far as to say that these are better than the original. Besides the fact that all those weird, unpronounceable ingredients are omitted, you really can’t go wrong with peanuts and chocolate.

healthier chocolate turtles 2These also make for the perfect last-minute gift or New Years party potluck dish. Even though I spend my days saturated with food I always struggle with what to bring to potlucks. There’s no question I will bring something sweet, but it’s an internal debate over whether I should keep things healthy or go balls-to-the-wall with butter and sugar. Ideally you can get both aka these Healthier Chocolate Turtles. If you’ll be at the same New Years party as me tonight, here is your dessert. I hope you enjoy them and please forgive me for running out of pecans!

Healthier Chocolate Turtles

by The Healthy Maven

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 30 mins

Keywords: no-bake blender dessert snack gluten-free vegan chocolate peanut

Ingredients (Yields: 30 turtles)

  • 1 cup peanuts
  • For the “caramel”:
  • 1 cup dates (covered with water and soaked for 2 hours)
  • 2 T reserved date water
  • 2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • For the chocolate:
  • 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)


1. After 2 hours of soaking, remove dates from water and place in food processor. Do not toss the date water.

2. Process for 1 minute or until dates have broken down into pea size.

3. Add in date water, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt and process until all comes together in a smooth mixture. This may take several minutes.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

5. Place clusters of 4-6 peanuts on baking sheet. It should make around 30 clusters.

6. Using a spoon, top each cluster with date “caramel” sauce until peanuts are covered.

7. Place in freezer for at least 15 mins.

8. Melt chocolate using a double-boiler or carefully in microwave.

9. Remove turtles from freezer after 15 mins and using a spoon coat each with chocolate until completely covered.

10. Place in freezer for at least 1 hour and keep in freezer before serving.

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Featured On:Β Wellness Weekend
healthier chocolate turtles 3

I hope you all have a fabulous New Years Eve and ring it in in style. Great things to come in 2014 πŸ™‚

What’s your favourite nut? Do you have a go-to potluck dish?


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  • Reply
    Amy @ The Little Honey Bee
    December 31, 2013 at 6:20 am

    All of my favorite things πŸ™‚ looks divine! Happy new year pretty lady, enjoy it! xx

  • Reply
    December 31, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Yum! I do think just about any nut would work here, right?

  • Reply
    Gabby @ the veggie nook
    December 31, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Ooooo just like homemade snickers! I like πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Erin @ The Almond Eater
    December 31, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Pecans or no pecans, these still look great! Though we aren’t going to the same NYE party, maybe you can still drop some off at the bar where I’ll be? Kthaaaaaanksbai. Happy New Year!! And here’s to 2014 πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Karen @karenlovestorun
    December 31, 2013 at 8:36 am

    You had me at “chocolate turtles”! These are one of my favorite sweet treats. I think I could pull this off (I do not have great kitchen skills). Perhaps something to make on a snow day? πŸ™‚

    Karen @karenlovestorun

    PS. Your food pics are always beautiful!

  • Reply
    December 31, 2013 at 9:04 am

    I would like to thank you for posting this dairy free caramel recipe!! THAT is like gold! These look so freaking good.

  • Reply
    Allison @ Life's a Bowl
    December 31, 2013 at 9:11 am

    You never can go wrong with anything that includes peanuts + chocolate… And then add some dates into the mix. YUM!

  • Reply
    D @ The Kosher Cave Girl
    December 31, 2013 at 9:11 am

    I can eat these!! Can’t wait to try them!!

  • Reply
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles
    December 31, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Mmm, Turtles…definitely one of my favourites! I’m definite the ‘dessert girl’ at holidays and potlucks, but 98% of the time I go for the butter-and-sugar variety. These might have to change that though :-p

  • Reply
    Jessica @ FromtheKitchentotheRoad
    December 31, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Oh my yum! I love any and all desserts. That is probably what I would chose to bring to a potluck. We have turned into the dinner roll people at my inlaws holiday gatherings, though.

  • Reply
    Becky @ Olives n Wine
    December 31, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Pecans or no pecans, I would devour these in about 2.5 seconds! Yummmm! Happy new year, Davida!

  • Reply
    Suzanne @ hello, veggy!
    December 31, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Mmmm I love turtles (imagine me singing that like in the commercial). Sadly, the milk chocolate makes them unvegan, so this recipe will be a perfect replacement! Using peanuts makes them like O’Henry!!

  • Reply
    Amanda @ .running with spoons.
    December 31, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I’m going to go ahead and say that you CAN go wrong with peanuts and chocolate… at least for those of us with allergies πŸ˜› But I guess I can forgive you for running out of pecans… just this once.

  • Reply
    [email protected] Apple of My Eye
    December 31, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Mhmm these look DELICIOUS! I love anything with chocolate and nuts, so there’s no going wrong with this recipe for me πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    Heather Murphy
    December 31, 2013 at 10:26 am

    I am always do amazed by how creative you can get! Teach me your ways! This looks delicious, as usual. Have a fab New Year, lady!

  • Reply
    Kim @ Hungry Healthy Girl
    December 31, 2013 at 10:49 am

    What a great use of date sauce…. and pecans and chocolate, of course! Yum! Have a very happy New Year’s, Davida!

  • Reply
    [email protected], Fit, and Frugal
    December 31, 2013 at 10:52 am

    mmm looks so good! I love almonds and walnuts. I’m so boring when it comes to potlucks. I usually bring pita and hummus. But I do make a no fail, delicious tofu lasagna.

  • Reply
    Elise @
    December 31, 2013 at 10:59 am

    You know I love me some turtles, I never really tried to make them healthy though lol

  • Reply
    Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl
    December 31, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Great recipe, I’ve been cutting back on the sweets but still need that “taste” – this is perfect!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    December 31, 2013 at 11:53 am

    You can NEVER go wrong with chocolate and nuts!! These look delicious. Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
    December 31, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Yummm! These would be so stinking good with almonds.

    I tend to switch it up at potlucks and bring something different to every one I go to. That being said, the magic coconut squares from Oh She Glows that I brought to my last potluck might become my go-to because they were such a hit!

  • Reply
    December 31, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Ooh these look delicious! I love dates and would never have thought about incorporating it into a traditional chocolate/nut dessert…besides cake maybe. Will have to experiment with them!
    x atelier zozo

  • Reply
    December 31, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    I’m with you – love chocolate and nuts!! Your recipe looks awesome!
    Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    December 31, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    How do you come up with all of this stuff? My most famous recipe is refried beans with melted cheese on top. :/ haha

  • Reply
    Luv What You Do
    December 31, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    OMG! I love turtles! This recipe looks mouth watering good.
    HAppy 2014!!!

  • Reply
    Layla @ Brunch Time Baker
    December 31, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Healthier? Sign me up please!! I sure can use these little bites, they look delicious!

  • Reply
    December 31, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    A dairy free caramel sauce made with dates – if you weren’t already, you are now my favorite person!!

  • Reply
    Karey @ Nutty About Health
    December 31, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Turtles are such a classic, you can never go wrong with them! These look amazing! Yum!

  • Reply
    Madison @ Eating 4 Balance
    January 1, 2014 at 12:31 am

    I grew up having turtles every single year for every major holiday πŸ™‚ My plan is to make a healthier version of my grandma’s too. I think our turtles use pecans instead of peanuts, but oh gosh I love your caramel recipe. I literally was thinking that a date version would be perfect and here you are.

  • Reply
    Arman @ thebigmansworld
    January 1, 2014 at 1:50 am

    Turles. Are. Amazing. I bought a package of them in the airport and the caramel stuck to my wallet but it was so worth it. To be honest, I didn’t even know it was pecans…I thought it was peanuts!

    I’m always assigned desserts for pot lucks (so many this holiday season!) but I prefer eating the savoury.

    PS You need to try brazil nuts…they are good as!

  • Reply
    Mary Frances
    January 1, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I’m all about healthier candy options and this one doesn’t disappoint! I think that caramel would never make it to the nuts … give me a spoon and I’m good! I’ve never tried date based caramel, but now I will. Haha, we never run out of nuts around here either, although the almonds are the most popular! Happy, Happy New Year Davida! Congrats on a fantastic 2013!

  • Reply
    Christie @
    January 1, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Yum!!! You know I love anything with peanuts and chocolate! The carmel makes it even better. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Consuelo @ Honey & Figs
    January 1, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    My house is stocked with nuts too! But I may say I do have brazil nuts too… which are my very favorite, so you girl get some asap ;–) These healthy turtles look way better than the original to me. Chocolate + peanuts >>>>> any other combo. And you know that I love dates too, so I’m trying these soon, yay!
    Happy New Year! x

  • Reply
    January 2, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Thank you SO SO SO SO much for posting a caramel recipe without sugar. I thought it couldn’t be done. This is why you’re a rockstar. I have to make caramel sauce ASAP – luckily this snow gives me an excuse to stay in and experiment in the kitchen.

    My favorite type of nut is cashew – I have no clue why. Also macadamia but those buggers are expensive.

    Brazil nuts are overrated, basic b***h nuts despite their cool name.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      January 4, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Have you ever had macadamia nut butter? Mixed with vanilla bean it tastes like icing! Why do they have to be so damn expensive???

  • Reply
    Selena @
    January 3, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Hey there girly long time no talk! I’ve been browsing through your recent posts and this one totally caught my eye..chocolate and caramel…gone healthy?! seriously you amaze me I can not wait to try this out πŸ™‚ I’m a huge fan of using dates as a sugar replacement!!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      January 4, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      Selena! Thanks for stopping by! I’ve been so out of the blogging loop!

      You amaze me! Heading over to TNK to see what you’ve been up to!

  • Reply
    Katie @ 24 Carrot Life
    January 4, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Yum! I made date caramel a while back for some “healthy” caramel frappuccinos and it was so good. Definitely trying this soon!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    January 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Um so these sound freaking delicious. I wish I was at that New Year’s party. Since I wasn’t I pinned them.
    I love the use of dates and can’t wait to take these puppies out for a spin.

  • Reply
    Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli
    January 20, 2014 at 12:42 am

    Ha! My favorite nuts are pecans, Brazil nuts, and peanuts! Yeah, I can’t just narrow it down to one…what can I say, I’m a nutty girl! πŸ˜‰ And you are so right, you can NEVER go wrong with chocolate and peanuts!

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