Transform your favorite candy into this Turtles Cake! Layers of rich chocolate cake, caramel buttercream, caramel sauce, and chopped pecans.
We’ve been in our new place just over a week now, and it’s finally starting to feel a bit less chaotic and a bit more like home — some rooms, anyhow. I was super nervous about the kitchen aside from the appliances, as it’s basically a 1989 original. It’s in good shape considering its age, but it’s a far cry from the modern kitchens these days. So I baked up a batch of my favorite chocolate chip cookies to test the setup and the oven. I’ve made those cookies so many times that I know exactly how they should turn out.
I actually struggled with them for the past 3 years, as our previous place had a gas oven. I can now say with confidence that I will never use a gas oven again. EVER. I love a gas cooktop (and miss it), but the inconsistency of the gas oven is horrible for baking. This was proven the other day when I baked up the cookies in an electric oven and they turned out better than they have in years.
The kitchen was actually quite pleasant to bake in. I have a separate “pantry” section for all my baking needs, so it doesn’t feel as cramped as I thought it would. The kitchen sink leaves a lot to be desired (small/cramped), but all in all the kitchen is pretty functional.
We still have a bunch of boxes (most empty) in the basement, but the main floor is done and some of the upstairs. I haven’t touched my photography room yet though. I’m kinda procrastinating it because I don’t really know where to start. It’s a huge mess right now and I need to put up some shelving and a table, etc. I have to get that done next week because I’ve only got so many recipes in the backlog! Like this Turtles Layer Cake.
This Turtles Layer Cake is another one of Ryan’s suggestions. I can always count on him to come up with crazy and delicious ideas. Turtles happen to be my favorite chocolate candy, so it really only made sense to make a cake version, naturally, keeping in line with my never-ending desire to turn other desserts into cakes. Because everything is better as a cake!
In true Olivia fashion, I did more to this Turtles Layer Cake than I should have, and I’m not totally happy with how it turned out. I mean, it looks GOOD, but it looked BETTER before I added the frosting rosettes and mini-Turtles on top.
See, caramel doesn’t set as well as ganache. I had these perfect, and I mean PERFECT, alternating drips and a smooth top going. It was a stunner. But I had some leftover buttercream and wanted to incorporate the mini-Turtles into the cake, so I took it a bit further. Big mistake. The weight of it all started pushing the caramel down the sides and the rosettes literally started sliding down the cake. So much so that one actually slid off and I had to redo it (it’s in the back so you wouldn’t see it in the pics).
I was in a mad rush to take these pics so that the rest of the cake wouldn’t end up a complete disaster. As such, I hate the pics too, and literally re-edited them 3 whole times (countless hours). I keep telling myself that no one will notice the imperfections and no one knows what it looked like “before” so who cares. Except now I’ve told you, and you totally know.
So, if you make this cake, I would recommend skipping the rosettes and Turtles on top. Or at least just do one or the other. I think it was actually the Turtles that did me in. Those suckers are dense.
Cake decorating issues aside, this is one seriously delicious cake. If you’re a Turtles fan (and really, who isn’t?), you will love it! Dense chocolate cake with caramel buttercream and caramel sauce between the layers, and chopped up pecans for some crunch. Pure decadence.
Tips for this Turtles Layer Cake:
- Adding rosettes and Turtles will cause the caramel to slide down more. I recommend skipping this step.
- To enhance the chocolate flavor of the cake, you can use strong hot coffee instead of hot water.
- For the ganache, I let mine set overnight (with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface). It will be too thick at this point, so I microwave it for 10 secs and stir it until it’s the right consistency.
- The drip technique works best on a chilled cake so that the drips set quickly.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, see my tips here.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup granulated sugar 200g
- 1/4 cup water
- 150 ml heavy whipping cream room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter 100g, room temperature
Milk Chocolate Ganache:
- 4.5 oz milk chocolate good quality, finely chopped
- 3 oz heavy whipping cream
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups unsalted butter cubed, room temperature
- 1/2 cup caramel cooled
- 1 cup pecans chopped
- 6 Turtles Minis
- Preheat oven to 350F, grease three 6″ round baking pans and dust with cocoa powder. Line bottoms with parchment.
- Place all dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir to combine.
- In a medium bowl whisk all wet ingredients (pour hot water in slowly as not to cook the eggs if very hot).
- Add wet ingredients to dry and mix on medium for 2-3 mins. Batter will be very thin.
- Pour evenly into prepared pans. I used a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.
- Bake until a cake tester comes out mostly clean. A total of 30-35mins.
- Place sugar and water into a medium pot, stir to combine, but to not stir from this point forward. Cook over high heat, washing down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water as needed to prevent crystals.
- Cook until desired color of caramel is reached and immediately remove from heat. Very slowly, whisk in heavy cream. The mixture will bubble up (a lot) and boil. Add butter, return to heat, and bring back to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes whisking constantly.
- Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a container and place in fridge to thicken.*
Milk Chocolate Ganache:
- Place chopped chocolate and cream into a microwave safe bowl. Stir to combine. Microwave for 20 seconds, stir. Microwave in 10 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth and silky. Set aside to cool completely before using.*
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.**
- Place bowl over a hot water bath on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is no longer grainy to the touch (approx. 3mins).
- Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
- Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.
- Add cooled caramel and whip until smooth.***
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving dish. Top with about 2/3 cup buttercream, drizzle with caramel and ganache and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Repeat with remaining layers. Crumb coat the outside and chill cake for 15mins. Frost and smooth the outside, chill for 30mins.
- Using a teaspoon, drip ganache along the edges then fill in the top. Chill for 15mins.
- Repeat with caramel and chill for 30mins.
- If desired, top with rosettes and mini Turtles.****
** Ensure there is NO trace of egg yolks in your whites and that your mixer bowl and whisk is completely grease free or your meringue won’t stiffen.
*** The buttercream may look like it’s curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.
**** Adding rosettes and Turtles will cause the caramel to slide down more. I recommend skipping this step.
I made this cake for my dad’s birthday and it turned out really nice. I made the sauces and cakes and then assembled them the next day. I wouldn’t do this next time though, the cake ended up a little dry and my caramel was too hard so, I had to heat it. Overall I really liked this recipe.
Hi Sophia! So glad you liked it 🙂 The cake should stay quite moist for at least a few days. Is it possible it was overbaked a bit?
Curious if you know how this cake would turn out if I used Bob’s Red Mill GF 1 to 1 Baking Flour? I’ve been experimenting lately with GF baking as my brother in law (who is my biggest fan of baked goods) was recently diagnosed with Celiacs.
PS LOVE all your recipes!!
Hi Lorraine! I haven’t tried it myself but it should work totally fine! Let me know how it turns out 🙂
Lorraine Kelly says
WOW!! This cake was ahh-mazing! I was a little concerned about using the GF flour, but it could not have turned out any better! I made the GF version for my birthday (figured I bake for everyone else, so why not?) because my brother in law, who has celiacs and is a huge fan of desserts, was going to celebrate with us. He couldn’t believe it was GF and tasted that good. We were all amazed to be honest! Thanks so much for not only this recipe, but for all of your recipes!!
Hi Lorraine! I am so happy you loved it and that the GF version turned out great. Thanks so much for the feedback!
Hi Liv, hope you’re doing well.
I want to make a cake inspired by this beautiful baby, but with a few differences: two tiers, filled with ganache, then frosted (after damming with) caramel buttercream. I don’t think I’ll drizzle the leftover caramel sauce and ganache on the outside. The cake will be decorated with fresh flowers, so those will be served on the side if anyone wants to drizzle them on their slices.
So my question is- will it work if I fill the cakes with ganache and crumb coat with the buttercream, then freeze? I’d then complete the frosting and decorating later. I’ve done this with american buttercream, and have also separately frozen your caramel buttercream, both with great results. Just not sure the buttercream would defrost nicely on the cake without getting wonky.
I hope you see this in time!
Hi Salma! Yes, that will be totally fine! Should work no problem. Let me know how it goes 🙂
Hey, thanks so much for answering! Just one more thing. I’ve now decided to make one of the tiers all caramel BC, so it’ll be completely filled and frosted with it.
I feel like an idiot for asking this, but just confirming from the expert… That’s ok too, right?
Hi Salma! Yes, that should be totally fine!
I put my frosting in the fridge until I got ready to use it and now its oily, It was perfect when I put it in there but now its like yuck, Can I salvage it?
Hi Gwwenda! It sounds like it needs a good rewhip! Be sure it’s completely at room temperature. It is totally saveable. Here’s a post with all my tips and troubleshooting: https://livforcake.com/swiss-meringue-buttercream-recipe/
Chloe King says
If I want to use 2×8” Tins, will the measurements already used be okay?
Hi Chloe! Yes, the recipe should work for two 8″ tins. The layers will be slightly thinner so you may have to reduce the baking time.
Anne C Rosenberger says
I’m planning on making this for my sister’s birthday (it sounds WONDERFUL). I’m going to need to transport it to my mother’s house…90 minutes away. Dare I freeze the finished cake before I transport it?
Hi Anne! The only issue you might have with freezing it is that the chocolate ganache drip will crack. It would certainly help ensure a smoother transport though! At the very least, make sure the cake is well chilled and that the heat isn’t on in the car 🙂
I was thinking of making cupcakes that match the cake. Would the same cake recipe work?
Hi Ryan! Yes, it should work fine as cupcakes. Just don’t fill them more than half full as the batter rises a lot. Start checking them at about 15mins or so.
I just started making this cake and I made the Carmel and it is very cloudy and light color and doesn’t taste like Carmel more like a werthers hard carmel I don’t know what I did wrong
Hi Jake! I have a detailed tutorial on caramel here: https://livforcake.com/caramel-sauce-recipe/
Can I just use regular cocoa powder instead of Dutch processed?
Hi Thomas! Yes, that should be fine.
Any chance you know the conversions for sugar free sugars? I have a diabetic friend who would love this cake!
Hi Kati! It might depend on the type of sugar. I know Swerve (which is a popular option) you use cup for cup like sugar. This won’t work for the frosting though and I’m not sure about the caramel, but should work fine for the cake.
I definitely found doing the caramel the night before but then leaving the chocolate in the morning very beneficial. Doing the ganache before the buttercream and then banging in the fridge meant that it firmed you the perfect consistency!
Hi Thomas! Awesome, thanks for your tips and feedback! 🙂
Made this for my husbands birthday. Very good but personally thought the buttercream called for to much butter. The meringue tasted good I gradually added butter as called for once I was done I felt the buttercream had the consistency and taste of mostly butter. Will probably cut the butter to 1 cup next time I make this. Overall tasted great once cake was put together!
Hi Ashley! So happy you loved it! This buttercream is definitely more buttery than a typical American buttercream, but it shouldn’t taste or feel like you’re eating butter. If so, it probably just needed a bit more whipping.
Melissa Machiskinic says
Hi can I double this recipe I am making Swiss meringue butter cream today for the first timeim so nervous I am a home baker my late mom taught me everything I know u have any advice
Hi Melissa! Technically you can double it but you would need a very large mixer to be able to hold the volume — at least a 6qt maybe more. If it’s your first time I would just stick to the recipe as-is if possible and be sure to read my detailed tips and troubleshooting here: https://livforcake.com/swiss-meringue-buttercream-recipe/
Melissa machiskinic says
Can I use prepared caramel
Hi Melissa! Yes, that should be fine.
Melissa Jarabek says
I made this for my boyfriends birthday and it was a huge hit! I doubled the recipe for using 3 x 9″ pans and it worked out perfectly. I didn’t put pecans in the layers as I was not sure how picky all the kids would be and that was a good call!
I made this a day ahead so not to be rushed for the dinner and the only thing I would change would have been to take the cake out of the fridge that morning or just ice it the day of to keep that creamy whipped icing texture. It was firmer than I would have liked because it hadn’t had the time to get to room temp.
To work around any issues with things sliding off, I just did the drip around the edges and added the rosettes with a pecan in each on on the top. Still have to work on my drip technique too but no one cared with all that lovely caramel and chocolate ganache!
Hi Melissa! So happy you guys love this one. Thanks for all your tips and feedback!
Nice cake !!!!! great idea for any occasion ;thanks for sharing.
Thank you Sonika!
909,000 calories? Is that right?
Hi Amanda! No, it’s 909 cal per slice.
Eileen Plageman says
I made this because my 26 yr old daughter replied, jokingly (she loves turtle candy) she wanted a “turtle cake”. I had no idea what I would think of to find or create. Your recipe was a total success and step by step perfect. It was easy and fun to make and the cake results beautiful. I have never made such an impressive & very tasty cake as yours.
Thank you for sharing this recipe. Everyone was raving about the taste & texture : deep hearty creamy textures with variety, chocolate, carmel with the buttercream.
Can’t wait to make it again !
This is a cake you totally can’t fuss with the calories ! It is fresh and well thought out and ment for special occasions. Can’t eat this cake every day, yet one you will not forget !!!
Hi Eileen! Thank you so much for the amazing feedback! So happy everyone loved it 🙂
Making this for my daughter’s birthday and want to create a “cat” cake (like a unicorn cake). I think it might look better if I used 9″ pans instead to have more room to decorate. Do you think that would work with the same quantities?
Hi Karin! For 9″ pans I would double the recipe.
I don’t really want double the cake, though 🙂 Would the same amount work in the 9″ pans or should I stick with this 6″? Was hoping for a wider surface area.
The same amount wouldn’t work because of the greater volume of batter needed in the pan. If you used 9-inch pans you would only get 1 full cake layer. You have to double the recipe in order to get it to work with 9 or 8 inch pans.
Thinking of making this cake and just wondering how many grams or mls per cup for the cake recipe?
Hi Olivia! There is a metric converter below the list of ingredients 🙂