Dark Chocolate Turtles

Makes 15 turtles
10 large medjool dates, pitted

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 pinch sea salt

2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted, divided

1/4 cup water, or as needed

250 grams good quality dark chocolate (I used 70%), roughly chopped

3/4 cup raw pecans, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon fleur de sel or Maldon salt, to finish

Start by making the medjool date caramel: Place the dates in the bowl of a food processor or small blender. Add maple syrup and a pinch of salt and start blending. With the motor running, add in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the coconut oil and water as needed to make the mixture smooth, up to 1/4 cup. Mix until smooth and combined. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate and the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil in a double boiler. Stir often to prevent burning.

While the chocolate is melting, line a cutting board or baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour out 15 evenly spaced, 1/2-teaspoon dollops of chocolate onto the parchment, then spread each out lightly with the back of a spoon. Return remaining melted chocolate to double boiler before it resolidifies.

Prepare the turtles: Arrange pecans in clusters on top of each dollop of chocolate, overlapping the nuts a bit and preventing gaps so that the dates have a solid base. Scoop out about 1 teaspoon of the date mixture and place it carefully on top of the clustered pecans. Repeat for each turtle, then evenly distribute any remaining date mixture. To smooth out the top of the date mixture, dip your finger tips in hot water, then gently smooth out the caramel while at the same time spreading it evenly over the pecans. Top each turtle with more melted chocolate. (You should have just enough chocolate to give each one a good coating.) As you do so, rotate the sheet to make sure each turtle has been completely covered with chocolate, and no date mixture is showing. Top each turtle with a sprinkle of the finishing salt. Place turtles in the refrigerator to set for at least an hour before serving.

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