While no match for nature with its upward of 330 species of hard-shelled reptiles, Turtle Alley proprietor Hallie Baker, who opened the store in 1999, is the creator of an ever-expanding turtle population with unpredictable physiognomy that includes domestic white, milk, and dark chocolates; gargantuan roasted macadamias, cashews, and almonds, in addition to pecans; and under-the-shell surprises that range from East Coast cranberries to chipotle chile, Turkish apricots, and bacon. "What I love most about the turtle is that it's a launching pad for so many different combinations," Baker says. "Whenever I find a great new product, chances are it will inspire a turtle." When we last visited, she only recently had come across extraordinarily delicious dried strawberries. When she combined them with milk chocolate, pecans from Georgia, and her buttery caramel, a new luxury turtle was born. Although some of what Baker makes is seasonal—cranberry-pecan turtles are generally a fall and winter offering, and white chocolate—blueberry a spring and summer combo—you can special order any flavor in her repertoire any time. Baker believes that the secret of turtle excellence is balance. Her caramel is especially supple, a gentle presence that provides a tender counterpoint to the crunch of the nuts, which are covered by just enough chocolate to ensure their maximum exposure. "If you are using good nuts, fully enrobed turtles are a mistake," Baker says. "Underneath the veil of chocolate, those nuts are going soft. That's why I want them sticking out as much as possible. A turtle needs to breathe."