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Chocolate Turtle Cake

We created this decadent chocolate cake showcasing a creamy caramel layer and rich ganache. A small slice goes a long way to satisfy a sweet tooth.—Taste of Home Test Kitchen
  • Total Time
    Prep: 3 hours Bake: 20 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    16 servings


  • 1 cup dark baking cocoa
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2-1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon dark baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate curls or other decorations


  • Dissolve cocoa in boiling water; cool. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk and cocoa mixture, beating well after each addition.
  • Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For caramel layer: Line a 9-in. round pan with foil and grease the foil with butter. Sprinkle with pecans; set aside.
  • In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, brown sugar, 1/2 cup cream, corn syrup and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir until smooth and blended, about 5 minutes. Gradually stir in remaining cream. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 238° (soft-ball stage), about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat. Quickly pour into prepared pan (do not scrape saucepan). Cool.
  • For ganache layer: Line a 9-in. round pan with foil and grease the foil with 1 teaspoon butter. Sprinkle with pecans; set aside. Place chocolate chips in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate; whisk until smooth. Pour over pecans. Cool to room temperature; chill until set.
  • For frosting: In a microwave, melt unsweetened chocolate and chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. In a large bowl, beat the confectioners' sugar, butter, milk, cocoa and vanilla until smooth; beat in melted chocolate.
  • To assemble cake: Place one cake layer on a serving plate; remove foil from caramel and place on top. Top with another cake layer; remove foil from ganache and place on top. Top with remaining cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake. Garnish as desired.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 1138 calories, 59g fat (32g saturated fat), 153mg cholesterol, 483mg sodium, 152g carbohydrate (118g sugars, 4g fiber), 10g protein.

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Average Rating:
  • Jennifer
    Jan 11, 2020

    Inhad so much fun making this cake and tasting everything. The icingbis amazing. I can wait to give this to my friend for her birthday.

  • dbaggett
    Apr 17, 2014

    I have made this cake several times. I place the Caramel in the fridge to set harden a little before I put it on the cake. I also use smaller cake pan for the caramel so it slightly smaller and edge the cake with frosting so the caramel want come out.

  • Roxane54
    Jun 11, 2013

    No comment left

  • purplekitty
    Mar 8, 2012

    I have made this cake twice, and I agree with the others it is very time consuming. It took me several hours to make and the caramel does ooze, but you just scrape it off the sides and frost it. The frosting holds it all in. This was everyone's favorite layer! I dont know if the above person did something wrong when making the cake but both times I have made this cake everyone said it was the most delicious chocolate cake they have ever had. I feel this cake serves more people than it states. I served 12 and still had half a cake left. I think it is very rich and a small serving does the job, and with so many calories per piece its a good idea to maybe cut back a little. :) I will make this cake again but only on special occasions its to time consuming.

  • s_pants
    Nov 14, 2011

    While this is a time consuming cake, I think the efforts were worth it. It is extremely good, but not too sweet. I made 2 cakes for a birthday (the other was a white cake with a creamy custard filling and buttercream frosting), this was by far the favored cake. The only complaint I have is that the caramel layer did not completely set and I had to scrape it off of the ended up oozing out of the sides of the cake...not very pretty for presentation, but still tasted good. The caramel layer is very good, though. Make sure your candy thermometer is accurate and possibly chill the caramel layer as well as the ganache layer.

  • HeatherD35
    Jan 8, 2011

    It took me much longer to make this cake than the time listed in the recipe. I spent most of the day on it. I won't make it again. The caramel was weird and the cake wasn't all that good. I'd rather spend half as much time and make a really good basic chocolate cake.