Combine the 1 C. flour, 1/3 C. cocoa, and 1/4 Tsp. salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Beat the 1 C. butter, 1/3 C. sugar and 1/3 C. sweetener on medium speed until light and fluffy; about 2 minutes.
Add 1 egg yolk, 2 Tbsp. almond milk, and 1 Tsp. vanilla; mix until incorporated.
Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm; about 1 hour.
Once the dough has firmed up, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper; set aside.
Roll the chilled dough into 1-inch balls.
Whisk the 2 egg whites in a small bowl until frothy.
Place 1 C. chopped pecans in another small bowl to set up your 'dredging station'.
Dip each ball of dough into the egg whites, and then roll it around in pecans.
Place the balls about 2 inches apart onto the prepared a baking sheet.
Using a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, make an indentation in the center of each dough ball; flattening the cookie out slightly.
Bake at 350 degrees until set; about 12 minutes.
Once done, remove the cookies from the oven and gently re-press in the center indentions; set them aside to cool.
While the cookies are cooling, microwave 14 soft caramels or 1 C. caramel bits and 2 Tbsp. heavy cream together in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth; about 1 to 2 minutes.
Fill each indentation in the cookies with about 1/2 teaspoon of the caramel mixture; allow the cookies to continue to cool for another 10 minutes or so.
Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Optional Chocolate Drizzle:
Place the chocolate and shortening in a small zip-top plastic bag. Set bag in a bowl of warm water to soften. Gently knead the chocolate with your fingers until melted and smooth, placing back in the warm water for a minute or two as needed.
Snip a very small hole in the corner of the plastic bag. Drizzle chocolate over the cooled Turtle Cookies.
Enjoy right away or store in an airtight container for 3-5 days.