Chef Ryan

Cajun Chef Ryan

Feeling & sharing a world of cooking ~ more than your average Cajun


Turtle Cookies

October 19th, 2009 · 31 Comments

Mckenzie's LogoIn New Orleans there used to be a local pastry shop known as McKenzie’s Bakery, just about every neighborhood in the city had one. You could drive to Algiers, Gretna, Uptown, Downtown, Mid-City, Metairie, Gentilly, Westwego, or the Lakefront and you could find one of the 47 or so locations. For over sixty-five years, the New Orleans culinary landscape shaped by their popular desserts, pastries and baked goods, yet the love affair would eventually come to an end. McKenzies Bakery Neon Sign In May of 2000, the Entringer family announced that the company was closing up all their shops, but there was a short sigh of relief when a new owner announced plans to re-open some of the store locations, however within a year, they too filed for bankruptcy and by 2001, McKenzie’s Bakery had closed it doors forever. Some of the old locations have been converted to new businesses and some of the old neon remains, as in The Creole Creamery location in Uptown New Orleans.

Some of the beloved treats that McKenzie’s were famous for were the pastry shells, or in the New Orleans vernacular, called “patty shells”. These are small vol au vent brioche-like pastry shells fresh baked and sold by the dozen. The shops had a time keeping up with them around the holidays and during Carnival (Mardi Gras). Several catering menus around town included these on holiday fare, and would feature such savory items as Oyster Patties, Bienville Patties or Rockefeller Patties (all served warm), or even dessert patties with chocolate mousse or with fruit custards too. Turtle Cookie McKenzie’s were also famous for their ladyfingers, buttermilk drops, Blackout Cake, wine cakes, King Cake, Halloween Cookies and the Chocolate Turtle Cookies featured in this post. And one of Monique’s all time favorite McKenzie’s Bakery favorites is these little baked cookie morsels with pecans and chocolate frosting, she will be surprised when she finds about 4 dozen of them in the kitchen today.

On December 11, 2008 National Public Radio broadcast a segment with an interview of Marcelle Bienvenue, co-author of the book Cooking Up A Storm, click on the link where you can read more about the book. This book is a great tribute to the city of New Orleans and the rich food heritage that continues to flourish four years after Hurricane Katrina. The recipes lost and found by the local newspaper The Times-Picayune is a response to the post-Katrina community pulling together lost recipes through the food section entitled “Exchange Alley” where folks traded lost and found recipes.

One if the beloved recipes in the book are a very close version of McKenzie’s Turtle Cookies, found on page 294 and reproduced here with a few minor variations. There is also another variation of this recipe discovered during a short Internet research and may try that one out later…for now…here is the McKenzie’s Turtle Cookie recipe…brought back to life again!

Note: Click on thumbnail images for a larger view.

¾ Cup Butter, unsalted, room temperature (1 ½ sticks)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Lg Egg
2 Tbsp Milk
½ Tsp Vanilla extract
1 ¾ Cups All-purpose flour
1 ½ Tsp Baking powder
¼ Tsp Salt
½ Lb. Pecan halves
4 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
2 Oz Chocolate, unsweetened, (2  squares)
1/3 Cup Milk
½ Tsp Vanilla extract
3 Cups Confectioners sugar
Procedure Steps
1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F.
2. Cream butter and sugar imageFor the cookies Beat with an electric mixer in a large mixing bowl the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the egg, milk, and vanilla extract and mix well.
3. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Cookie dough imageAdd the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat well to combine.
5. Dough on pecans imagePecans in place imagePlace 3 pecan halves close together on an ungreased cookie sheet pan and then scoop 1 tablespoon of the dough on top of the pecans. Be sure they are about 1 ½ inches apart and continue until all dough is used.
6. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges, then let cool on a wire rack before frosting
1. Melting for frosting imageIn a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, chocolate and milk. Stir well but do not worry if it looks a bit coddled, this is normal.
2. Cooling frosting in bowl imagePour the chocolate frosting into a mixing bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature.
3. Frosting ready in bowl imageAdd the vanilla extract and then gradually add the sugar and mix with the beater attachment of an electric mixer until smooth and thick
4. Frosting the cookies imageTop each cookie with a dollop of the frosting or using a pastry bag with a star tip, pipe out the frosting into a nice iced design.

Tags: Baking · cookies · Desserts · Recipes

31 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Vegetable Matter // Oct 19, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Cooking up a Storm has been in my Amazon wishlist ever since I read about it in the Houston Chronicle. Your entry has prompted me to “add to cart”. Those cookies look great. Thanks!

  • 2 Banu B B (BaL) // Oct 19, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    65 years n then you lose everything because of the economics…
    So sad…
    It’s a bit relaxing to know that someone saved some lost recipes that are the heritage of the New Orleans culinary history…

    There are few old bakery n pattiserrie shops in Istanbul, too. I’m so affraid that one of them will be closed w/out sharing any of their top recipes!

    And these turtle cookies look great! (I love turtles btw…) But I gotta shut my mouth up till I lose some more lb.s lol

  • 3 Jessie // Oct 19, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    oh wow those cookies look great! all of your sweet goodies have me craving some cookies 🙂

  • 4 pegasuslegend // Oct 19, 2009 at 6:37 pm


  • 5 penny aka jeroxie // Oct 19, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    those cookies are lovely. So glad that the recipes are found! 🙂

  • 6 High/Low // Oct 19, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    New Orleans is one of my fave dining towns so it’s sad to hear about historic stores shutting down. Thanks for the recipe and in keeping the spirit of the traditional New Orleans sweet treats alive!

  • 7 Kristi Rimkus // Oct 19, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    These look like fun to make and fun to eat. Thanks for the recipe.

  • 8 The Chocolate Priestess // Oct 19, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Those look huge and great. Thanks for sharing.

  • 9 Cookin' Canuck // Oct 19, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    What a wonderful reincarnation! These cookies look wonderful.

  • 10 Amy // Oct 20, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Just looking at the McKenzie’s sign makes my mouth water. Oh how I miss N.O.!!! Thanks for the recipe – I’ll be trying my hand at these asap!

  • 11 Simply Lydia // Oct 20, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    They look so yummy! Thanks for sharing.

  • 12 lisaiscooking // Oct 20, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    This sounds like a great cookie, and one definitely worth preserving!

  • 13 ValleyWriter // Oct 21, 2009 at 11:31 am

    OK, I have to admit that I had to check out this post just to see whether you were actually using turtles (the reptile) in cookies. Hey – you never know! Glad to see that’s not the case. 🙂

    I’m also glad I stopped by, because these cookies look yummy!

  • 14 giz // Oct 28, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    What fun cookies – quick add to the Xmas repetoire – easy and look great.
    Do I need another cookbook – absolutely – thanks for pointing this one out – I love charity cookbooks – they always have the best recipes.

  • 15 Karen // Feb 19, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I have a question about the recipe. 1 1/4 cups of butter equals 2 1/2 sticks and 1 oz of chocolate equals 1 square. Please clarify that which the recipe calls for for each ingredient. Thanks!

  • 16 Ryan Boudreaux // Feb 19, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    You are correct Karen, the stick butter quantity should be 2 1/2 and the chocolate quantity also should be 2 ounces. I appreciate the heads up! The amounts have been corrected.

  • 17 Pat D // Jul 11, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Went to Haydel’s today and bought “turtle cookies”, looking for that childhood McKenzies experience. I will make these this week and report the actual results. If you can’t make them yourself, I highly recommend shopping for them at Haydel’s bakery. They were excellent if not exactly like McK.

  • 18 pegasuslegend // Nov 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    These are adorable! So adorable I cant wait to try them! They will look amazing at a party on the table! So glad you got the recipe back!

  • 19 fooddreamer // Nov 11, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Delicious! Thanks for sharing a beloved N’awlins recipe.

  • 20 Kita // Nov 11, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Ive had that book on my wishlist for a while. I love that I am getting to see something out of it in use. I will have to bump it up a few notches and hint a little more at my BF for the holidays.

  • 21 Evan @swEEts // Nov 11, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    These sound delicious. McKenzie’s sounds like just the kind of bakery I want to open.. with fabulous treats!

  • 22 Cristina - TeenieCakes // Nov 11, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Chef: How interesting about the McKenzie Bakery and too bad that a business like that closed it’s doors forever…so much lost. Maybe someone could convince them to publish a book of their treasured recipes?

    It’s cute how their named, as they do look like turtles. Thanks for sharing it’s story.

  • 23 Polly Motzko // Nov 12, 2010 at 2:43 am

    Your site is looking great here and the recipe looks scrumptious! I thought you were mentioning me and then I saw it was a book written years before I ever began menioning or coining the phrase “Cooking Up A Storm All Over The World!”

    I am working on another project called “Miss Polly’s Kitchen” that is coming along nicely.

    You will have to tell me how you have been doing.

    How are your spices selling that you created?

    Polly Motzko

  • 24 Yesim // Nov 12, 2010 at 3:20 am

    they looks so nice, tx for recipe..

  • 25 G Martin // Nov 12, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks for posting.

  • 26 Torviewtoronto // Nov 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    delicious cookies chocolate on it looks fabulous

  • 27 kelli // Nov 14, 2010 at 1:21 am

    i JUST emailed my mom to put that book on my christmas list! i have a feeling she’ll be buying a copy for herself and each of my 3 sisters as well. thanks for sharing.

    btw …. i could never walk out of mckenzie’s with less than a dozen turtles!

  • 28 ET // Feb 11, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Antoine’s Annex on Royal sells a Turtle that is bigger than the original, but still very tastey.

  • 29 dstrander // Apr 19, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Second recipe I tried and the cookies spread too much. I bake on a regular basis and have no trouble following a recipe. Something must be left out of the recipe.

  • 30 gigi // Feb 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Disappointed. I bake often and for some reason these cookies spread out too much. Don’t think there is enough flour to hold the shape. Chef Ryan, have you actually made these cookies following this particular recipe?

  • 31 Ryan Boudreaux // Feb 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Hi Gigi,

    I am truly sorry for the recipe not turning out the way it was supposed to, but hopefully this email will be a good lesson in how baking in general works, especially in relation to the liquid to fat to flour/dry ingredient ratios.

    I cannot guarantee or validate that every recipe on my site is written without mistakes; however, I have tried to make sure that every recipe on my site is correct to the best of my ability.

    I do appreciate your bringing it to my attention!

    “Chef Ryan, have you actually made these cookies following this particular recipe?”

    To answer your question, yes, the Turtle Cookies recipe has been made several times; in fact, the images in the blog post were taken from the recipe as it was being made. If you look at step four in the procedure; “Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat well to combine.” Then click to enlarge the accompanying photo you will see the consistency of the cookie dough. (I have attached the original image below) Since your resulting dough most likely did not look like this, it should have given you a clue that one of two things needed to happen, 1.) Either you needed more dry ingredients, or 2.) You needed more liquid/fat ingredients, and in your case it was having too much butter (fat). I will explain below.

    Since your comment, I reviewed the recipe as written from the original resource. What I found is that the volume in cup quantity for the butter was listed incorrectly in the cookie portion of the recipe, however, the number of “sticks” amount was listed correctly. When the recipe was transposed to the blog post the original cup volume was included and later on the stick amount was updated to reflect the incorrect cup volume amount, therefore, on the blog post both volumes were listed incorrectly. The errors have been corrected in the blog post.

    The cookie dough portion of the recipe should be made with 3/4 cups of butter, or 1 1/2 sticks of butter.