(Ricardo DeAratanha, Los Angeles Times / November 30, 2011)

"The holidays are about spending time with the ones you love. For me, my favorite thing is to make sure that the ones I love are enjoying the sweet treats I love to bake during the month of December. This cookie recipe is a perfect combination of so many of our favorites: white chocolate, caramel, pecans, cinnamon and a sweet, dark chocolate dough. These tender cookies host a creamy surprise center around a Rolo candy — my very favorite as a young girl!"

— Nicole Cleghorn, Minot Air Force Base, N.D.

White chocolate turtle cookies

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes plus cooling time

Servings: Makes 4 dozen cookies

Note: Adapted from a recipe by Nicole Cleghorn.

2 1/2 cups (11 ounces) flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided

1 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans, divided

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

48 Rolo candies, unwrapped

4 ounces white chocolate

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa and baking soda. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the butter, 1 cup granulated sugar and the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer running at low speed, slowly add the flour mixture until completely combined. Beat in one-half cup of the chopped pecans.

3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining one-half cup pecans with the remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar and the cinnamon.

4. Assemble the cookies: Flour your hands to keep the dough from sticking. Take about 1 tablespoon of the dough and shape it around one Rolo candy, covering it completely, dip one side of each cookie into the pecan-sugar-cinnamon mixture (the cookies will look like adorable little truffles at this point). Place the cookies, nut side up, 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

5. Bake the cookies until set and slightly cracked (the cookies will flatten as they bake), 7 to 9 minutes. Cool 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Melt the white chocolate: Place the white chocolate in a glass or microwave-safe bowl, and heat, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate into a plastic bag and snip off a corner. Drizzle the chocolate over the cooled cookies. Set aside the cookies until the white chocolate is set, about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Each of 4 dozen cookies: 142 calories; 2 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 7 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 19 mg cholesterol; 12 grams sugar; 40 mg sodium.