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!
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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!
Making the Caramel Filling
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.
Making the Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
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.
- For best results, whisk the softened, unsalted butter for at least 6 to 8 minutes on high speed, scraping down the sides of your mixing bowl often, until the butter is fluffy and almost white in color. Only then should you start adding the rest of the ingredients!
- If your buttercream is not becoming fluffy and voluminous, your butter is too soft! Place the mixing bowl into the refrigerator for 20 minutes, then whisk again.
Enjoyed this incredible chocolate cake recipe?! Check out some of my other cake creations!
- German Chocolate Cake – the best German chocolate cake with classic coconut filling!
- 12 Layer Chocolate Cake – if you need layers, this cake has 12 of them! Perfect for a special occasion!
- Chocolate Truffle Crepe Cake – the ultimate chocolate crepe cake with truffle filling!
- Tatyana’s Torte – EPIC hazelnut, caramel and coffee cake!
- Cinnamon Roll Cake – epic cinnamon cake inspired by my favorite breakfast! With cinnamon cake layers, dulce de leche and cream cheese frosting!
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Need some supplies to make this recipe? You can get them here (Amazon affiliate links):
- Ateco Cake Turntable – this classic turntable is a MUST for any cake decorator!
- Cake Spatulas – use these for smoothing the frosting.
- Cake Decorating Tips – this set has all my favorites!
- Comb Spatula – use this special cake decorating comb to get the same look!
Chocolate Turtle Cake Recipe (video)
For Chocolate Cake:
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups milk, warm
- 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
For Milk Chocolate Buttercream:
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 to 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 cup caramel sauce, recipe linked above
- 1 cup chopped pecans
For Simple Syrup:
- 1 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- chocolate chips, for garnish
- chopped pecans, for garnish
- Prepare the chocolate cake layers first. Preheat the oven to 350F/177C and line three, 8-inch (20-cm) round cake pans with parchment paper and spray the sides with a baking spray. Place the softened butter and sugar into a mixer bowl and whisk on high speed for 6 to 7 minutes, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl often, until the butter is creamy and smooth.
- Add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract and whisk again for 1 minute. Add the eggs to the cake batter and mix for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the batter is smooth and creamy. In a separate measuring cup, combine the warm milk and instant coffee. Stir for a few seconds until the coffee is dissolved, then pour into the cake batter but do not stir. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Sift the dry ingredients into the cake batter, then stir on low speed for about 1 minute, just until combined; do not overmix!
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the three pans. Bake in preheated oven for 32 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 15 minutes, then remove onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once the layers have cooled, use a sharp serrated knife to level off the tops, if needed.
- If you are using my recipe for ‘Homemade Caramel Sauce’ for the filling, prepare that next: https://tatyanaseverydayfood.com/recipe-items/caramel-sauce/ The caramel sauce needs to cool for at least an hour before using in this recipe. Once the caramel is done, combine 1 cup caramel with the chopped pecans for the filling and set aside.
- For the milk chocolate buttercream, place the butter into a stand mixer bowl and whisk on high speed for 7 to 9 minutes, until the butter is super fluffy, creamy and almost white in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl often. Allow the melted milk chocolate to cool slightly, then add to the butter. Hot chocolate will melt the butter! If your buttercream is not becoming fluffy and voluminous, your butter is too soft! Place the mixing bowl into the refrigerator for 20 minutes, then whisk again. Whisk the chocolate into the butter for 1 minute, then add the vanilla, salt and confectioner’s sugar. More sugar will make for a firmer buttercream. Whisk again for 3 to 4 minutes, until the buttercream is smooth and fluffy.
- For the simple syrup, combine 1 cup hot water with 1/2 cup sugar in a measuring cup or dispenser bottle and stir/shake until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- To assemble the cake, first soak the layers generously with the prepare simple syrup. Transfer 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the buttercream into a pastry bag tipped with a star tip. Pipe a ring of frosting around the edge of the cake, to keep the caramel filling on the inside. Add half the filling onto the first layer, then add small dollops of frosting on top, followed by the second cake layer. Repeat this process for the second layer and top with the final cake layer.
- Using offset spatulas and a cake scraper, frost the top and sides of the cake with a crumb coat layer of the buttercream. The crumb coat will keep all the crumbs in place. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, then add the final layer of frosting. For the decorative finish on the buttercream, use a comb spatula. Garnish the cake with more caramel, dollops of buttercream, chocolate chips and chopped pecans.
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