✭ Happy New Year ✭ and a Recipe: Caramel Nut Clusters (Turtles)

✭ Happy New Year ✭ and a Recipe: Caramel Nut Clusters (Turtles)

Starting a fresh new year can be exhilarating but I’m always sad when the Holidays come to an end. I know I’m going to miss my kids which is a weird thing for me to say because they are all grown up and they live nearby…in fact, the youngest still calls this house Home.

The Mom in me is hanging on, so before I let go of the 2011 Holiday Season, I’ve got one more Christmas thing to share with you.

This was my first Gluten Free Christmas and I did pretty good at avoiding awkward situations without accidentally being exposed to gluten. I think these Gluten Free Sweet Party Platters really helped. We took a platter with us when we went visiting over the Holidays. Once there, I encouraged the Hosts to open the cellophane wrapping to share the treats with their guests. Wanting to avoid any risk of cross contamination, I made sure to help myself to some of goodies before the trays got passed around.

The Platters were a big hit, with many people exclaiming “you made these things gluten free?”. Yes people, being gluten free these days, does not mean going without. In fact, there are some things, like my Best Crispy Rice Treats that take no extra effort to make GF and I swear they taste better than the glutenful Kellogg’s Rice Crispy Squares I used to make for the Holidays.

Unfortunately I was sick for New Year’s Eve with some Gluten reaction type symptoms but I don’t know what caused my reaction. Do you think toxins just build up over time? I was being careful when we went visiting but now when I think back on it, I’m wondering if the exposure could have been here at home. The non-GF Hubby was home all week and we had visitors (the kids) staying over more often than usual. With Mr Fox being more of a morning person than me, he would be up most mornings to fix wheat flour pancakes or toast for his and their breakfasts.

I don’t want to believe I’m that sensitive to Gluten but who knows, maybe I am. The wheat flour pancakes and toast are the very few Glutenful things the Hubby still has once in a while at home and usually only when we have company. Otherwise, he eats GF like me. How about you, how diligent are you? Have you had to abolish everything Gluten from your home? Do you have to worry about wheat flour getting into the air? What about crumbs on the cutting board, dishes and dish cloth?

Oh well, I’m starting to feel a bit better today. I tell you, after having been sick constantly for a couple of years, getting sick once in a while for a few days (it usually takes about 5-6 days to completely clear my system) doesn’t seem so bad.

Happy New Year, bring it on 2012!

Here are some pictures of my Gluten Free Sweet Party Platters. I definitely plan on doing the same thing next year.

Gluten Free Sweet Party Platter #1
Gluten Free Sweet Party Platter #2
Gluten Free Sweet Party Platter #3

Each of my Platters included some of the following Gluten Free sweets:

Caramel Nut Clusters (Turtles) see recipe below

Sweet & Spicy Roasted Mixed Nuts

The Best Crispy Rice Treats

Colourful (Gluten Free) Swirl Cookies

Gluten Free Seven Layer Bars

Candied Almonds based on Candied Pecans recipe by Caneel at Mama Me Gluten Free. I switched up the kind of nuts, used Parchment paper instead of Wax paper and sprinkled coarse sea salt on the candied nuts before they cooled.

Caramel Nut Clusters (Turtles)
Recipe type: Candy
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Summary: Caramel Nut Clusters are often called Turtles but these handmade candies taste better than the ones that come in a box. They’re surprisingly easy to make using ingredients most kitchens have on hand.
Caramel Nut Clusters (Turtles) inspired by Cassidy at Cooking Gluten (& Dairy) Free. I didn’t change the original recipe much, just added a chocolate base for the caramel and used mixed chopped nuts instead of peanuts.
Gluten Free | Grain Free | Dairy Free (option) | Egg Free | Vegetarian
*** Always refer to packaging labels for the most up to date allergy information
  • 2 Tbsp butter or dairy free substitute of choice
  • 1/4 Cup coconut palm sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey, or agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • 3/4 Cup nuts (chopped) peanuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia
  • 1 1/2 Cup chocolate chips, divided (use dairy free if needed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  1. In a heatproof bowl, add 1/2 cup of the chocolate and 1/2 tsp of the shortening. Then, place over simmering water being careful that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir until completely melted. Alternate Method: put in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 60 seconds. Stir the chocolate chips, return to the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds, depending on how close they are to being melted. Repeat as needed, stirring each time. Stop heating the chocolate chips when they’re slightly more than half melted and stir until smooth.
    Caramel Nut Clusters (Turtles)
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drop teaspoon-sized amounts of the chocolate on the paper. Smooth down into about a one inch circle. This will serve as the base for your chocolates.
  3. For the caramel sauce: In a small saucepan, mix together the butter, sugar, and agave over medium heat. Stir continually and bring to a boil, allow to boil for a few minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, and nuts.
  5. Drop tablespoon-sized amounts of the nut caramel mixture on each chocolate base you created earlier. Don’t worry if the nuts spread over the sides of the chocolate bases.
    Caramel Nut Clusters (Turtles)
  6. Place uncovered in refrigerator while you make the chocolate coating.
  7. In a heatproof bowl, add the rest of the chocolate and shortening. Then, using your preferred method, melt the chocolate.
  8. Drop 2 teaspoons of the chocolate over each caramel cluster, spreading gently to coat.
  9. Place pan back in refrigerator until set… 30 minutes to an hour.
  10. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

Wishing you Peace, Health and Happiness in the New Year!

Laureens Signature
To see a text listing of Laureen’s gluten free recipes, click here

For dairy, egg, nut and gluten free flour substitutions, click here

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Laureen Fox
Laureen is an enthusiastic amateur cook and Canadian Food Blogger from Vancouver BC. She loves spending her days creating good wholesome food in this Fox Kitchen. Evenings will find her blogging about the best that living without gluten has to offer.

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  1. Saundra says:

    Your platters look wonderful! I wish I had been as ambitious as you. I had my family here (I’m an empty nester) so I tried to prepare things for them instead. I actually had a huge breakout of hives when rolling out and baking sugar cookies with my grandkids. I was sick for several days without even eating any gluten. Next year I will do differently.

    • Laureen says:

      Saundra, it sounds like we’re very similar. I bet you would understand why I’m getting so paranoid. I wouldn’t touch wheat flour with a ten foot pole. Seriously, when im going down the baking isle at the grocery store I walk over on the far side of the aisle away from the flour products. Oh and I hold my breath when I go through the bakery department :p
      Next year you should do things differently. I bet your grandkids would be surprised at how delicious home baked gluten free sugar cookies can taste! Surprise them :-)

    • Laureen says:

      Caneel, I’m so glad you approve of my sweet and salty version. I want to try your sweet and spicy idea too but I’m ready for a break from the sweets…detox time 😉

  2. Erin says:

    These look so yummy! I will have to add this to my list of “can’t wait to try” recipes! Thanks to for giving options in your recipe ingredients, I don’t always have the uncommon ingredients on hand or available :)

  3. Wow, your treat platters are so pretty! I can’t believe you put roasted chickpeas on them, but I do love my chickpeas. 😉 Thanks so much for linking to my recipe, Laureen! :-)

    I’m so sorry you got sick at Christmas. Sadly, just breathing in flour from those gluten-full pancakes can make you sick. We’d like to think we’re not that sensitive, but many of us are and even if we don’t have visible reactions, we still can be. Maybe you could get hubby to try buckwheat pancakes? They’re hearty and full of flavor. :-)

    Happy New Year, dear!

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