Monday, October 17, 2011

Chocolate Turtle Cake

Wow.  October has been flying by.  We've had a steady stream of company and a whole host of other things come our way in the last few weeks.  Consequently, there has not been as much cooking around these parts as eating out (or so it seems) and when I have been making food, there hasn't been a whole lot of attention paid to making sure to snap a pretty picture.

Sometimes, a recipe doesn't need a lovely shot to be enticing, though.  At least, that's what I would think when mentioning such a thing as Chocolate Turtle Cake.  While my parents were visiting, I really wanted to try out this recipe on them knowing that they have a weakness for the chocolate, caramel pecans combination.  I'm so glad I did (and especially glad there were extra people to help spread out the calories!).

Inspired by the beloved candy, this version consists of chocolate cake (use a box, if you please! I sure did.) is layered with gooey caramel and crunchy pecans, covered in rich chocolate frosting and then topped with a final dressing of caramel. 

Chocolate Turtle Cake
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups pecans, toasted
1 pound soft caramels (I used a 14 oz. bag of Kraft brand and it worked well despite not being quite 1 pound)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 recipe Grandma Kaye's Fudge Frosting (recipe below) or 1 recipe Chocolate Icing (also below)
2 (8-inch) baked chocolate cake rounds

For the caramel: Finely chop 1 1/2 cups pecans.  Heat caramels, remaining cream and salt in a microwave safe bowl by cooking on 50% power in microwave, removing bowl and stirring every 30 seconds until caramel is smooth and melted.  Reserve 3/4 cup caramel mixture for topping.  Stir chopped pecans into remaining caramel mixture. 

To assemble: Place 1 cake layer on cake serving platter.  Spread the pecan-caramel mixture in an even layer over the top, leaving 1/2 inch border around the edges.  Pour a very small amount of chocolate frosting around the caramel filling to keep it from spilling over the edges (see photo).  Top with second cake layer.  Pour or spread chocolate frosting over top and sides of cake, allowing to set slightly.  Spread reserved caramel mixture over top of cake, allowing caramel to drip over sides (reheat caramel in microwave for just a few seconds if it has gotten too stiff to pour).  Garnish with remaining pecans.  Slice and serve
Making a "dam" of chocolate frosting to keep the caramel from spilling out.  Kindly disregard the very torn cake edges.  I was meant to relearn a lesson in properly greasing the cake pans.  Oops.

Note: the original recipe called for a chocolate ganache icing instead of the "Grandma Kaye's Fudge Frosting."  I changed it up mostly for the sake of time (the ganache has to cool for much longer).  If you would like to use it instead, I've included it below.

Grandma Kaye's Fudge Frosting
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk (you can also substitute half and half)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup mini marshmallows
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or a combination of milk and semi-sweet)

In a medium saucepan over very lowest heat, combine sugar and evaporated milk. Stir thoroughly until sugar starts to dissolve. Add butter and marshmallows. Stir constantly until butter and marshmallows are completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in salt, vanilla and chocolate chips, stirring until chips are melted and frosting is smooth. Use immediately as it will stiffen up quickly.

notes: after a lot of experimenting, I have found that it is very important to make sure to combine the milk and sugar first, otherwise the sugar crystals will never fully dissolve and your frosting will remain grainy. It is also important to keep the heat as low as possible. Finally, you can certainly play around with the chocolate used. We just prefer milk chocolate. 

Chocolate Icing:
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
In a medium saucepan, cook cream, chocolate and corn syrup over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until smooth.  Transfer mixture to medium bowl and refrigerate until thickened but still spreadable, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally (alternatively, refrigerate mixture overnight until set.  Let sit at room temperature until softened and spreadable, about 1 hour).

Recipe Adapted from: Cook's Country Magazine


  1. Oh know my weakness or should I say love of chocolate, I must try this recipe very soon. I don't eat nuts so I was thinking of using toffee bits instead. Missed you at MOPS, I would love to get together sometime!

  2. I made the original version from the Cook's Country magazine, and I just wanted to vouch that this cake is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your grandma's fudge frosting looks yummy too :)