A Family Tradition: Chocolate Turtles

Sharing the Tradition

My great aunt Avis Gryzwa taught us how to make these scrumptious little cuties years ago.We use to gather and make them as a group- my sister, cousins, auntie and, of course, Uncle Chet.

Avis made them long before the tradition of making them as a group started. I wondered why she made them in the first place and my cousin said it was a way to spread the gift of Christmas cheer on a budget. Avis would package them up and deliver to her friends. At our family Christmas, she would always bring them over to and, of course, they were our favorite among treats.

As we grew older and had our families, I’m sure someone asked her to show us the turtle making method and, so, we gathered. Avis showed us her secrets and the tradition of gathering to make Christmas Turtles began.

Avis has passed and its been years since we got together to make turtles. My sister still makes them every year, while I had retired my efforts, not really knowing why. But, this year, being so upside down because of the pandemic, I felt an urging to do something fun and creative. So, I bought a couple of molds, along with all the ingredients and made up several dozen. It was a great outlet and I found myself thinking of my cousins, my sister and my sweet auntie Avis.

Passing on the Tradition 

Years ago, when I worked at Aerial, I shared the how-tos of making the turtles with a coworker. She just recently told me that her and her daughter make turtles every year. This was really neat to hear. I felt as if I was passing on a tradition where she could keep the memory of our friendship alive as well as share with her daughter.

How to Make Chocolate Turtles


  • Chocolate Candy Melts
  • 1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (turns into caramel- recipe below)
  • Pecan Pieces (or whole pecans that you cut in half- I found the pieces cheaper and easier)


  • Turtle Candy Molds
  • glass bowl or pot to melt chocolate
  • spoons or little paint brushes

Step 1- Make the Carmel

This seriously makes the best caramel. Take a can of sweetened condensed milk and take the label off and leave the can unopened. Put it in a large pot and fill the pot with water so that it covers the can of sweetened condensed milk. Boil the can for 2 1/2- 3 hours. Keep adding water to the pot since the water will evaporate. You want to keep the can covered with water.

Let the can cool completely. I usually make it up at least the night before I plan on making turtles.

Step 2-Make the Turtles

Melt the candy melts either in the microwave or over low heat in a pot. Avis had a hot plate and covered it with a towel that she kept the bowl of melted chocolates on so that the chocolate stayed liquified. I just melt a small bowl of candy melts at a time and will use what I have in the bowl fast enough that I don’t worry about the chocolate getting too solid.

Coat each candy mold with chocolate using a spoon or small paint brush. Put mold in refrigerator to let the chocolate harden. After about 30 minutes, take molds out.

Put a small dollop of caramel in the center of each turtle.

Then, spoon a bit more chocolate, covering the caramel and filling in the rest of the turtle.

The final step is placing the pecans on, placing them in locations where the turtle feet would be located.

Place the turtles once again in the fridge to let them firm up.

I like to store my turtles in the fridge placing them in a covered container.

Final Thoughts

Upon the writing of this, I want to search out a higher quality candy melt. The ones bought this year were from a local candy store. Comparing the taste to good quality chocolate, my evolved tastebuds, have found that these taste like an off the shelf grocery store candy bar. If you have had good chocolate, you know what I’m talking about!

Thinking about starting this tradition? Please share, I would love to hear about it!