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What Is Turtle Cheesecake?

Turtle cheesecake is a decadent dessert that combines the creamy richness of traditional cheesecake with the irresistible trio of caramel, chocolate, and pecans. This luscious treat is often drizzled with these toppings, creating a symphony of flavors that dance on the palate. Ready to indulge in this sumptuous delight and discover how it can elevate your dessert experience?
M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet

Turtle cheesecake is a very rich dessert that fuses traditional North American cheesecake with turtle candies, which consist of caramel and pecans coated in chocolate. Like most North American cheesecake, its bulk is made up of a mixture of cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and other ingredients, but it sits atop a chocolate crust and is topped with pecans as well as drizzled caramel and chocolate. Turtle cheesecake can be purchased in many supermarkets, bakeries, and restaurants. It is also possible to prepare this dessert at home. Those attempting to control their intake of fat and calories should note that turtle cheesecake tends to be quite high in both of these.

Essentially, turtle cheesecake is an adaptation of normal cheesecake which takes its inspiration from the caramel, pecan, and chocolate candies commonly known as turtles. As such, the majority of the cake is made up from the same ingredients used to make traditional cheesecake, like cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and whipping cream or sour cream, which together create a dessert with a smooth and rich consistency. Unlike regular cheesecake, however, turtle cheesecake usually has a chocolate graham cracker crust. Further, its surface is drizzled with caramel and melted chocolate and then sprinkled with chopped pecans.

Woman baking cookies
Woman baking cookies

In North America, turtle cheesecake is often available in the freezer or bakery section of supermarkets. It is sometimes also sold in bakeries. Certain restaurants, particularly those that specialize in cheesecake, also carry this dessert on either a permanent or occasional basis.

Home bakers who wish to make their own turtle cheesecake can find a large number of recipes for the dessert by consulting cookbooks or Internet-based baking sites. Making the cake usually requires three basic steps. First, the crust is prepared. Then, the cream cheese and other filling ingredients are combined and spread over the crust, and together they are baked in the oven. After the cake has cooled, it is drizzled with melted chocolate and caramel and scattered with pecans.

Those who are concerned about nutrition should note that most turtle cheesecake recipes are high in calories and fat. It may be possible to improve the cake’s nutritional profile by substituting low-fat versions of the full-fat ingredients, such as cream cheese, called for by these recipes. Some dessert aficionados hold that low-fat cheesecake lacks the flavor and richness of its full-fat counterpart, however, and suggest that dieters may find a small serving of a full-fat cake more satisfying than a large serving of a low-fat one.

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Discussion Comments


@Grivusangel -- I never thought about doing that with cheesecake, but you're right. The sugar just provides sweetening, and if you use Splenda and do the ground almond crust, you've just about cut out the carbohydrates.

I would always recommend doing a cheesecake in a springform pan, and also use the bain marie method, which is to wrap the pan securely in foil and set it in a boiling water bath in a roasting pan before baking. That will help keep the crust from cracking. Also, don't mess with the cheesecake too much while it's in the oven. Just peek at it through the window in the oven door until it's been in the oven for the recommended time. Then you can check it.

But if the crust does crack, well, that's what the nuts and caramel sauce are for! They hide a multitude of sins.


Making a cheesecake a little healthier is much easier than it sounds -- even a turtle cheesecake. Make the majority of it healthy, and you have more leeway with the caramel sauce.

First, use ground almonds, butter, cocoa and artificial sweetener as the crust instead of cookies or crackers.

Next, substitute an artificial sweetener for sugar. You can get away with this in cheesecake because you're adding sugar for sweetening, not texture, or as part of a batter.

Use low-fat cream cheese -- not fat free. You need some fat to preserve the rich mouth feel. But neufchatel works just fine and cuts down on the fat and calories.

Toasted pecans are not a problem -- you're not eating that many of them anyway -- and can be used as you would with a regular cheesecake.

I've made very low-sugar, lower-fat cheesecakes and they work. If everything else is lower in fat and calories, then a healthy drizzle of caramel isn't going to blow your diet.

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      Woman baking cookies