Posted by: thehungryrunner | November 30, 2008

Sinful Yet Guilt-free Decadent “Turtle” Brownies

caramel_brownies1_small1If you bake holiday cookies every year, you probably have a couple of favorites, ones that your family requests year after year.  For me, it’s this recipe.  But the original recipe was almost frightening, so over-the-top was the dizzying list of sugary/fatty ingredients.  So about five years ago, I did one of those infamous side-by-side tests:  I made one batch of the “regular” recipe, and one that was adjusted to lessen the caloric and saturated fat “dent,” while at the same time introducing some antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.  And to my surprise and delight, everyone agreed, they are no less sinful in taste, only less sinful in gastronomic impact.  How often does that happen?

So without further ado, behold, Evamarie’s Reformed Yet Still Scrumptious Reduced Calorie Turtle Brownies!

Special note:  For reasons unknown, I have sometimes needed to extended the baking time (not of the crust, but the second baking time, of the finished brownie mixture) by longer than just the 20 minutes.  Use your best judgment, but do check the brownies after the first 20 minutes, as that might be all you need.

  • 1 14-oz. bag of light caramels
  • 2/3 cup (5-1/3 oz. can) fat-free evaporate milk
  • 1 two-layer German chocolate cake mix with pudding
  • 1/2 cup melted “light” butter
  • 1-1/2 cup FINELY chopped walnuts
  • 3 oz. sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 oz. dark chocolate chips

Melt caramels with 1/3 cup of milk:  I always use a microwave-safe 4-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup for this:  I microwave it in 30-second increments, at 50% power, stirring each time until the caramels are softened enough to blend with the milk.  Combine remaining milk, cake mix and butter; mix well. Press half of cake mixture into bottom on greased 13×9 inch baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.  Sprinkle 1 cup of walnuts and chocolate chips over crust; drizzle with caramel mixture, spreading it to the edges of the pan.  Top with teaspoonfuls of remaining cake mixture; press gently into caramel mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining walnuts, pressing lightly into top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Cool slightly; refrigerate for 30 minutes or until caramel sets.

Tip:  Cut the brownies after the caramel sets but while they’re still warm, but don’t separate/transfer them to another dish or container until AFTER you have placed them into the refrigerator to cool completely.

Yum yum yum!



  1. Man – stop that! I have too many new recipes I’ve got to try now! Thanks for all the ideas!

  2. Yum!! Now, I’m gluten free and dairy free… I wonder if this can be modified so I could partake without killing myself??? Any ideas?

  3. Hi Lara, gluten-free and dairy-free certainly poses a challenge. Some ideas that come to my mind: I know I have seen cake mixes at the health food store that are based on gluten-free ingredients (probably using rice flour, I’m assuming). You might start there. Most of the commercial cake mixes I have used for this recipe are around 18 ounces per box. Rather than the evaporated milk, you might try soy or rice milk. That one might be tricky as I don’t know how the caramel will react to a non-dairy subsitute, but worth a try, I would think. Also, I’m almost certain I have seen dairy-free chocolate chips at the health food store. The caramels….you’ll probably be best at reading the ingredient list for anything that might be troublesome. I use Kraft caramels, found (usually) in the candy aisle at the grocery store. The butter, thankfully, can probably be readily switched out with margarine instead.

    It might need some tweaking in terms of amounts and baking times, but I say go for it! Good luck and please report back if it works out for you!

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