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1st Five Star Dessert Bars Recipe Contest

Lisa Rush, Damascus, Virginia

One of the preliminary winners at the Caroline County Fair

Five Star Dessert Bars logo
Gooey Salted Caramel Turtle Bars Graphic

Gooey Salted Caramel Turtle Bars


2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teas. baking powder
¼ teas. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teas. vanilla
½ teas. almond extract
½ cup pecans, ground into a powder
½ cup milk chocolate chips, ground with almonds
1 cup milk chocolate chips - layer on hot crust

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugars with mixer and blend in eggs and flavorings. Add flour mixture until just combined, then add the ground pecans and ground chocolate chips.
  • Reserve ½ cup for topping and spread remaining dough into greased, parchment lined 9x13" baking pan. Even out the dough by hand, using a light dusting of flour on hands, as dough will be sticky. Bake for 14 minutes on middle oven rack.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining 1 cup chocolate chips over hot crust (you can add more for a thicker chocolate layer), let sit until chips soften then spread evenly over crust. Let sit while making the filling.

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1½ cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons heavy cream
8 oz. pecans, chopped (not toasted)

  • On stove top in a heavy saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Over medium heat, melt and let boil for three minutes, stirring continuously. Stir in heavy cream and remove from heat.
  • Stir in the pecans and pour mixture over crust and chocolate, spreading evenly.
  • Sprinkle on the reserved topping in pea-sized pieces across the top.
  • Return to oven and bake 22-25 minutes.
Caramel Icing

4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teas. heavy cream
⅛ teas. vanilla
¼ cup powdered sugar
⅛ teas. coarse sea salt

Heat butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Let lightly boil for two minutes, stirring. Stir in heavy cream and vanilla/remove from heat. When mixture has cooled slightly, stir in powdered sugar. Drizzle warm caramel icing onto cooled unsliced bars (with piping bag or bottle). Sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt. Cool and cut into bars. OR cut into bars first, then drizzle caramel onto individual bars and sprinkle on salt. Sprinkle on a few chopped pecans.

Platter Garnish(opt.):

Warm ¾ cup dark chocolate chips over a bowl of hot water, stirring until all chocolate is melted. Spoon onto parchment paper, spread out, let cool and cut into triangle strips. Roll parchment over a tube shape, tape to hold and refrigerate for 1 hour. Unroll and apply triangle curls to a stack of dessert bars.