Chocolate Turtle Cake

The most stunning and delicious chocolate turtle cake recipe! This incredible cake is inspired by one of my favorite chocolates – the caramel pecan chocolate ‘turtle’. To make this chocolate cake, I used my ‘Perfect Chocolate Cake’ recipe, my homemade ‘Caramel Sauce’ recipe and a fluffy milk chocolate buttercream. The crunchy and creamy caramel pecan filling on the inside is magical! It’s the perfect turtle cake recipe!

How to Make Turtle Cake

Making this chocolate turtle cake is a breeze! First, you’ll need to prepare my ‘Perfect Chocolate Cake’ recipe. For a taller cake like mine, you’ll need to prepare 1 1/2 portions of the original recipe; please see the ingredient list for those measurements. This chocolate cake is very delicate and moist, made with chocolate chips, cocoa powder and coffee to really bring out the chocolate flavor. Once the cake layers are completely cooled, level off the top with a serrated knife. The cake layers are very moist but if desired, a simple syrup can be used to add more moisture. Get the recipe for the syrup below!

For the iconic caramel pecan turtle filling, I used my ‘Homemade Caramel Sauce’ recipe. This super easy, no-fail recipe is perfect for so many recipes and you can eat it by the spoonful! Use about 1 cup of the caramel sauce for the filling, along with a cup of chopped pecans. Reserve the remainder of the caramel for garnishing the cake and serve it on the side.

And to bring everything together, this cake is frosted with an incredible, fluffy milk chocolate buttercream! For my video recipe, I used my basic buttercream and added melted milk chocolate. If you don’t like American buttercream, try adding 1 cup melted chocolate chips to my ‘French Buttercream’ or my ‘Italian Meringue Buttercream’. Either one is a great option! Just allow the chocolate to chill slightly before adding it into the butter, otherwise the hot chocolate will melt the butter.

Unsweetened cocoa
1 (18.25-oz.) package devil’s food cake mix
1 (3.9-oz.) package chocolate instant pudding mix
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 (6-oz.) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (16-oz.) container ready-to-spread cream cheese frosting
1/2 cup canned dulce de leche
2 (7-oz.) packages turtle candies
1 (16-oz.) can ready-to-spread chocolate fudge frosting
1 (12-oz.) jar dulce de leche ice cream topping
1/4 cup pecan halves, toasted

How to
Step 1 Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2 (8-inch) round cake pans, and dust with cocoa. Set aside.
Step 2 Beat cake mix and next 7 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 1 minute; beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Fold in chocolate morsels and chopped pecans. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Step 3 Bake at 350° for 30 to 32 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely. Wrap and chill cake layers at least 1 hour.
Step 4 Whisk together cream cheese frosting and canned dulce de leche in a small bowl until well blended. Set aside. Cut 6 turtle candies in half, and set aside for garnish. Dice remaining turtle candies.
Step 5 Using a serrated knife, slice cake layers in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Place 1 layer, cut side up, on cake plate. Spread with 1/2 cup cream cheese frosting mixture; sprinkle with one-third diced turtle candies. Repeat procedure twice. Place final cake layer on top of cake, cut side down. Spread chocolate fudge frosting on top and sides of cake. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Just before serving, drizzle dulce de leche ice cream topping over top of cake. Garnish with remaining halved turtle candies and pecan halves. Store in refrigerator.

Chef’s Notes
We tested with 2 dulce de leche products: canned and jarred. The canned product is by Nestlé and available in a 14-oz. can. It’s quite thick, and when blended with ready-to-spread cream cheese frosting, makes a rich, caramel-flavored filling. Find it in the supermarket with the Mexican ingredients. The jarred dulce de leche ice cream topping is perfect to drizzle over the finished cake. Find it in the supermarket with other ice cream toppings.