Turtle Cake is probably the richest, sweetest, most decadent cake recipe I make. It is chocolate and sugar on steroids! Seriously. Turtle Cake starts with a German Chocolate cake mix. You bake half of the batter in a 9×13″ baking dish. After that bakes you spread an incredibly delicious and high calorie caramel filling that includes butter and sweetened condensed milk on top.
After that, you top the caramel filling with chocolate chips and pecans. Then you spread the remaining cake batter over top and finish baking the cake. Wow! But that’s not all. Then you spread a luscious and creamy Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting over top.
Uh, yeah….this is one of those 10,000 calories a slice cakes….well, perhaps not quite that bad, but you get what I mean. Turtle Cake is reminiscent of Turtle Candies. Gloriously rich!
I got this delectable recipe from my best recipe exchange friend, Mimi Pownall, in 1984, when she asked me to type her recipes into a cookbook on what was then a new phenomenon–personal computers and word processing! Yay. I remember her telling me later that I had left out the butter in the filling. So I hand-wrote that into my cookbook.
When I did get around to making this recipe not too long afterwards, we were all just in awe of the taste. I remember taking this cake with us as a birthday cake for our oldest son one year when we went camping with friends over his birthday. Everyone oohed and awed over it. Mimi always said this cake didn’t need any icing because it was in the middle of the cake, but I’ve always served it with icing because it looked better!
Turtle Cake is still one of our favorite cakes, but it really is rich and sweet. I served it for company last Sunday along with vanilla and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Ahem, did I say this cookie is rich and high in calories? Especially if you have it with a few scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream! Nevertheless, it is one of those treats we indulge in on special occasions.
Here are a couple of recommendations when making this cake. Get your caramel layer going first. Unwrap all the caramels and put in a saucepan over LOW heat with the condensed milk and butter. If you try to speed up the process and cook on a higher heat the caramels will almost always scorch! Ugh.
It usually takes a full 15 minutes to get the caramels to completely melt down and that’s with me pressing the caramels against the edge of the saucepan with a spoon to make sure all of them dissolve. You want the caramel filling ready to go when your cake layer is baked. You can mix up the cake ingredients rather quickly and get the cake in the oven in less than 5 minutes.
Second, even though you only bake half the batter, make sure the cake is fully cooked before you try to pour the caramel sauce over top. It really doesn’t set up well if the cake is still gooey on the bottom. Test with a toothpick. Even though you should only have to cook it for 15 minutes, it took my oven 18 minutes before the cake was baked completely.
Third, make sure you spray the sides (and not just the bottom of your cake pan/dish). Otherwise the caramel layer will stick to the sides of the dish and be hard to get out.
Fourth, don’t skimp on ingredients. Use a high quality German Chocolate cake mix, real butter (no margarine!), caramels, chocolate chips, etc., for best results.
If you’re looking for a super-duper cake recipe that will wow your guests, then give Turtle Cake a try. I usually don’t serve it with more caramel sauce (or chocolate sauce) because it is so rich that that is really overkill. But feel free to go overboard if you wish! 🙂 But don’t say I didn’t warn you–this cake is addictive.
Turtle Cake is one spectacular cake. But don’t say I didn’t warn you–this cake is highly addictive! It’s perfect for birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions.
Rich, decadent and a chocolate lover’s delight!
The filling is made up of caramels, chocolate chips and pecans. Yum.
Here’s what I did.
I used these ingredients for the cake.
Mix the German Chocolate cake mix with eggs, water and oil.
Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
Spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13″ glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread HALF of the chocolate cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 for approximately 15-18 minutes or until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Meanwhile, unwrap all your caramels. (I actually do this step first). Add butter and condensed milk and stir until caramels have completely melted about 15 minutes over LOW heat. Don’t try to do this over medium heat or the caramels scorch easily. Then your cake will taste burnt!
Here the caramels are completely dissolved. Set aside, but be ready to pour over the cake when it’s done.
Remove cake from oven after it tests done.
Pour caramel filling slowly and evenly over the cake so that it spreads and fills in each place. This is easier than trying to spread it with a knife.
Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips.
Now sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans.
Cover with remaining cake batter. You will barely have enough. Spread the cake batter the best you can over top of the filling ingredients.
Bake about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.
To make frosting: Mix powdered sugar, cocoa and salt in a mixing bowl. Add just enough milk to barely make the mixture spreadable.
You can see I use a whisk and the chocolate mixture is pretty thick. Now add Crisco shortening and marshmallow creme.
Whisk ingredients to combine. Now the frosting is of a nice spreading consistency.
Spread Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting over top of the Turtle Cake.
This cake is easier to keep in the baking dish rather than trying to remove it and put it on an oblong serving plate. If desired, serve with additional caramel sauce.
Look at that ooey, gooey caramel layer in the middle. Yum!
Serve Turtle Cake with ice cream or more caramel sauce–if you dare!
Here’s the recipe.
(Recipe adapted from Mimi Pownall, when we attended First Baptist Church Indian Rocks, Largo, FL)
- 1 German Chocolate cake mix
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 11-oz. bag Kraft caramels, unwrapped (40 per bag)
- 14-oz. can condensed milk
- 6-oz. (1 cup) chocolate chips
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Unwrap caramels.
- In medium saucepan, melt caramels with butter and condensed milk.
- Continue stirring and mashing down the caramels until they melt completely.
- (This will take about 15-20 minutes over low to medium heat).
- Mix cake mix with eggs, water and oil.
- Pour [u]half[/u] of the batter into a greased 9×13” baking dish.
- Bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes or when cake is set.
- Remove cake from oven.
- Pour caramel topping over top of cake and spread evenly.
- (It is better if you pour over every part of the cake because this is hard to spread. Do the best you can).
- Sprinkle with chocolate chips, then pecans.
- Finally pour remaining chocolate batter over top of filling.
- Bake at 350° for another 20 minutes or until set.
- Remove from oven to cool.
- ½ box confectioners’ sugar (or 2 cups)
- ¼ cup Nestle’s cocoa
- Dash of salt
- Milk to make of spreading consistency
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- ¼ cup Crisco shortening
- ¼ cup marshmallow crème
- Mix confectioners’ sugar, cocoa and salt.
- Add vanilla, then a few tablespoons of milk and try to get this just to the workable point.
- Use as little milk as possible so the ingredients are just moistened.
- You probably won’t need more than ¼ to 1/3 cup of milk total.
- Then work in shortening and marshmallow crème to give the frosting its proper spreading consistency.
- Frost cake when cooled.
Doesn’t Turtle Cake with Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting look gorgeous?
This is one scrumptious cake!
It’s so rich you will want to share it with company so you don’t consume all those calories by yourself!!! 🙂