[Photograph: Pam Parrella]

There's something delightfully macabre about eating foods shaped like adorable animals. Childhood is full of opportunities to bite the ears off of chocolate bunnies and take down an entire school of Goldfish in a single, satisfying crunch. Not surprisingly, Beatrice Harlib's 1952 Pillsbury Bakeoff Grand Prize-winning recipe for Snappy Turtle Cookies, pecan tortoises with buttery cookie bodies and chocolate frosted shells, was inspired by her own young son.

According to an account in the Lubbock Morning Avalanche, Mrs. Harlib had been entering the Pillsbury contest since its inception in 1949. But it wasn't until one of her twin sons got creative with some cookie dough and pecan pieces while she was on the telephone that she took home the $25,000 grand prize. Mrs. Harlib's win is likely due in no small part to candy Turtles—the chocolate-covered caramel and pecan confections patented and popularized by DeMet's Candy of Chicago in 1918.

With cookies taking the place of fussy-to-make caramel, these Snappy Turtles are easy enough to bake with a young Serious Eater, and, for true nut lovers, they are quite possibly a superior form of sheer pecan enjoyment. With caramel out of the picture, the pecans step up as the star of the show. Raw pecan halves make up the head and four legs of the cookie so though on first glance you only see little nutty nubs, each cookie has two and a half whole pecans. That's way more nuts that your average Pecan Sandie! Nibble on one turtle and you'll soon find yourself on your second and third. They're small and go down easy.

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Snappy Turtle Cookies »

Got a favorite classic American dessert recipe you'd like to see featured here? Email us with the subject: "American Classics."

About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild-mannered children's book editor by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie and a Midtown Lunch contributor. You can follow her on Twitter at @blondiebrownie.


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