Mud Turtle Pie


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About

Oven Temperature 425°F/220°C for the pie shell; 350°F/175°C for the turtle pie

Baking Time 23 to 27 minutes for the pie shell; 16 to 25 minutes for the turtle pie

I think of a turtle pie as being thick and muddy with chocolate. The rich, tangy stickiness of pecan pie filling blends perfectly with this new milk chocolate ganache “mud” topping. Both deserve a decorative little turtle perched on top.

Plan Ahead Make the ganache 1 to 2 hours before spreading it on the cooled pie.


Perfect Flaky and Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust

dough for a 9 inch standard pie shell . 11 ounces 312 grams

Pecan Filling

golden syrup or corn syrup cup (79 ml), cup lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray 4 ounces 113 grams
light brown Muscovado sugar, or dark brown sugar ½ cup, firmly packed 3.8 ounces 108 grams
4 (to 6) large egg yolks, at room temperature ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons (69 ml) 2.6 ounces 74 grams
heavy cream ¼ cup (59 ml) 2 ounces 58 grams
unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C) 4 tablespoons (½ stick) 2 ounces 57 grams
fine sea salt a pinch . .
pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon (5 ml) . .
pecans, coarsely chopped cups 7 ounces 200 grams

Pecan Turtle Décor

Milk Chocolate Ganache (reserved from above) 1 tablespoon . .
5 pecan halves . . .
corn syrup (optional) . . .
several Valrhona dark chocolate pearls (optional) . . .

Special Equipment

One 9 inch pie plate | An expandable flan ring or 13 inch round cardboard template | A large coffee urn filter, several smaller cup-style filters, or pleated parchment to be filled with beans or rice as weights (spray the bottom(s) lightly with nonstick cooking spray) | A baking stone or baking sheet | A foil ring to protect the edges of the crust


Roll the Dough

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If necessary, let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until it is malleable enough to roll.

On a floured pastry cloth, pastry mat, or between two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll the dough into a ⅛ inch thick disc 13 inches in diameter, or large enough to line the bottom of the pie plate and extend ¾ inch past the edge of the rim. Lift the dough from time to time and add flour as necessary to keep it from sticking. Before measuring the dough, make sure to lift it from the surface to allow it to shrink in so that it doesn’t retract when set in the pie plate. Use the expandable flan ring, or a small sharp knife with the cardboard template as a guide, to cut a 13 inch disc of dough.

Line the Pie Plate

Transfer the dough to the pie plate, easing it into place. If necessary, trim the edge to extend about ¾ inch from the edge of the plate. Fold this dough under so that it is flush with the outer edge of the pie plate. If desired, use your forefinger and thumb or a fork to crimp the border. Cover it with a double layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 24 hours, or set it in a gallon-size reclosable freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

Preheat the Oven

Forty-five minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack at the lowest level and place the baking stone or baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.

Bake the Pie Shell

Line the pie shell with the coffee filter or parchment and fill it three-quarters full with beans or rice to weight it, pushing the weights up against the sides.

Set the pie plate on the baking stone. Bake for 20 minutes. Lift out the filter with the weights. Place the foil ring on top of the pie shell to protect the edges from overbrowning and continue baking for 3 to 7 minutes, until pale gold. If the dough starts to puff in places, press it down quickly with your fingertips or the back of a spoon.

Cool the Pie Shell

Remove the foil ring and set the pie plate on a wire rack. If any holes have formed, seal them with a little egg white and return the pan to the oven for 30 seconds for the egg white to set and become opaque. Alternatively, seal the hole or holes with a little melted white chocolate.

Lower the oven temperature to 350°F/175°C.

The baked pie shell will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days.

Make the Pecan Filling

Have ready a strainer suspended over a 2 cup glass measure with a spout or medium measuring bowl, preferably with a lip.

In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the golden syrup, brown sugar, egg yolks, cream, butter, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula, until it is uniform in color and just begins to thicken slightly, without letting the mixture boil, 7 to 10 minutes. (An instant-read thermometer should read 160°F/71°C.) Pour it at once into the strainer and press it through. Stir in the vanilla.

Fill the Pie

Spread the pecans on the bottom of the crust. Starting at the center, with the glass measure’s spout just above the pecans, slowly pour in the filling, lightly coating the nuts and working from the center to the edge. Once the filling is completely poured, the pecans will float. Gently shake the pie plate to distribute the pecans more evenly.

Bake the Pie

Re-place the foil ring on top of the pie to protect the edges from overbrowning. Bake for 16 to 25 minutes, or until the filling is puffed and golden and just beginning to bubble around the edge. The filling will shimmy slightly when moved and an instant-read thermometer inserted near the center should read 190° to 200°F/88° to 93°C. Check early to prevent overbaking, which would result in a dry filling.

Cool and Unmold the Pie

Cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour, or until the filling feels very firm to the touch, before topping with the chocolate ganache.

Make the Milk Chocolate Ganache

See recipe.

Apply the Ganache Layer

Scrape the ganache onto the pie and, with a small offset spatula, spread the ganache evenly over the entire surface. Use the spatula to make a “water wave” design in the ganache by rippling across the top of the ganache in rows.

Let the pie sit for 1 hour, uncovered, and then cover it with a cake carrier dome or large bowl for several hours to set the ganache.

Make the Pecan Turtle Décor

With your fingers or a small metal spatula, form the ganache into an oval shape, about 1 inch wide and 1¼ inches long. Place the turtle’s “shell” on the pie. Use the tip of a knife to draw lines in each direction to make a crosshatch pattern on the shell.

Cut 1 of the pecan halves in half the short way to become the turtle’s head. If making the eyes, set the turtle’s head, rounded side up, on a counter. Dab a small dot of corn syrup on either side, about halfway down. Place a chocolate pearl on each of the dots of corn syrup. To keep the pearls from sliding, set a stack of four pennies on either side up against the pearls to support them until they set. Allow them to sit for about 10 minutes. Position the cut edge against one end of the turtle’s shell and set the pecan at a 45 degree angle up from the pie’s surface.

Position the remaining 4 pecan halves, rounded side up, on the sides of the turtle’s shell to make the turtle’s legs. If desired, place a few chocolate pearls, starting at the end of the shell, to make the turtle’s tail.

Cut the pie with a sharp, thin blade, dipped in hot water and wiped dry between each slice.


Room temperature, 5 days; refrigerated, 1 week.

In this section