Heartland Turtle Bars

Preparation info

  • Yield:


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented

Baked Explorations

By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Published 2010

  • About

This turtle bar recipe was passed on to me by a newfound acquaintance I encountered while traveling along the border of South Dakota and Iowa. She assured me that the bar came from the heartland—she dug up the recipe some time ago from one of those church cookbooks, which she found in Minnesota. These bars are wonderfully addictive snacks. I suppose the oatmeal in the crust is my favorite part, and it’s what sets this bar apart from other “turtle” offerings.


For the Bar Topping and Base

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped into large pieces
  • cups chocolate chips


    Make the Bar Topping and Base

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper so that the paper overhangs the pan on two sides. Butter the parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Use your hands to rub in the brown sugar. Add the oats and stir until the ingredients are evenly combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour in the melted butter and stir until the entire mixture is wet and combined.

    Spread two-thirds of the mixture across the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven to cool (but leave the oven on). Sprinkle the pecans and chocolate chips across the cooled crust.

    Make the Caramel Filling

    In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the sugar and butter together. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly (the caramel will begin to darken quickly at this point). Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the cream, and pour the caramel directly over the chocolate pecan layer. Use an offset spatula to evenly distribute the caramel. Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture onto the caramel and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

    Let the bars cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then place the pan in the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour to firm up. Cut and serve. The bars can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 3 days.