A luscious chocolate cheesecake with a thick layer of creamy caramel and chopped pecans—this turtle cheesecake has it all, and it doesn’t even require a water bath to make it!
Hello hello! I hope you’re ready for (yet another) cheesecake! TURTLE CHEESECAKE! With a thick layer of caramel, a creamy chocolate cheesecake, and plenty of pecans for crunch.
This is a cheesecake that requires quite a few steps, but none of those steps is actually difficult so I promise you CAN make this. And you definitely should make this. Unless of course you’re not in the mood for a delicious dessert. . .
But if that’s the case you came to the wrong place 😉
Why you’ll love this turtle cheesecake:
- No water bath required!
- All the ingredients are easy to find—no special ingredients here
- You don’t need a stand mixer!
Why is it called turtle cheesecake? What is a chocolate turtle?
This turtle cheesecake is a cheesecake-ified spin on the classic turtle candy, a confection made with chocolate, caramel, and pecans. (If you’ve never had a chocolate turtle you’ve GOT to try them.)
Chocolate-dipped pecans, as a brand, were developed by Johnson’s Candy Company in 1918, when a vigilant candy-dipper in Chicago noted that the candy was shaped like a turtle.
You can find all kinds of spins on turtle candies today, including cake versions, brownies versions, and candies made with nuts other than pecans. But this cheesecake uses the classic chocolate-caramel-pecan combo.
However, if you wanted to use a different nut I highly encourage you to experiment! Keep the proportion the same (1 cup of nuts) and you’ll be just fine.
How to make graham cracker crust
- Stir graham cracker crumbs and a few other ingredients together until the crumbs are saturated
- Press the crust into a 9-inch springform pan, then freeze while you make the filling
How to make turtle cheesecake filling
- Beat room temperature cream cheese until creamy
- Beat in eggs and a few more ingredients
- Add melted chocolate
- Beat to combine
- Pour melted caramel candies into the frozen crust and top with chopped pecans
- Pour the cheesecake filling over that
Then just bake (without a water bath—hooray!), chill overnight, and serve!
Serving your turtle cheesecake
Since this turtle cheesecake needs to chill overnight, you’ll need to be sure to make it a day before you intend to serve it.
I topped my cheesecake with whipped cream and pecan halves but there are lots of fun options for serving, like:
- Drizzle with caramel sauce
- Drizzle with hot fudge (I highly recommend!)
- Spread a thick layer of whipped cream on top and sprinkle with chopped pecans
- Some combination of the above—it’s hard to go wrong here
How to store your cheesecake
Uneaten cheesecake (if you should actually have such a thing) can be stored, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You can also wrap individual slices tightly with plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can defrost slices in the fridge overnight or at room temp for about half an hour (if you can wait that long—there’s nothing wrong with frozen cheesecake in my book!).
If you want to freeze the whole cheesecake to serve later you can pop the cheesecake, pan and all, into the freezer for about an hour, until it’s frozen solid. (Be sure it’s fully chilled before you freeze it.)
Once the cheesecake is frozen, wrap it well and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost the cheesecake in the fridge overnight when you’re ready to serve it.
Did you make this turtle cheesecake? Hooray! Let me know what you think with a comment and a rating below. And post a pic on Insta; tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see your beautiful creations!
This turtle cheesecake features a creamy chocolate cheesecake and a thick layer of caramel and pecans. It's relatively easy to make and it doesn't even require a water bath!
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs from about 12 sheets graham crackers
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 11 ounces soft caramel candies unwrapped
- 1/3 cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
- 16 ounces full fat cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips melted
- whipped cream and additional pecan halves for serving optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and set pan aside.
Stir the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt together in a mixing bowl until the crumbs are evenly saturated in the butter. Press into the bottom and partway up the sides of the prepared pan.
Pop the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes and leave it in the freezer while you make the filling.
Combine the caramel candies and evaporated milk in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth. (It will take quite a bit of stirring before the caramels start to melt.)
Pour the caramel into the frozen crust and sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top.
Place the cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until very creamy. Add the sugar and beat until well combined.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine.
Add the melted chocolate chips and beat on low speed until fully combined. Scrape into the crust and smooth the top. Bake for 28 to 34 minutes, until the edges are set but the center of the cheesecake still jiggles a little if you tap the pan.
Remove cheesecake from the oven and cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Once cool, refrigerate the cheesecake overnight.
When you’re ready to serve, top with whipped cream and pecan halves (optional). Slice and serve.
- You could also serve this cheesecake with caramel sauce and/or hot fudge
- Store uneaten cheesecake in the fridge (covered) for up to 3 days or in the freezer (tightly wrapped) for up to 3 months
Adapted from Notably Nashville