Turtle Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

Rich, luscious, and moist chocolate cake layers are filled with a caramel pecan sauce and coated with a creamy caramel frosting, then topped with a caramel and ganache drip and chopped nuts!

This Turtle Chocolate Layer Cake starts with rich, decadent and moist chocolate cake layers that are filled with a caramel pecan sauce and covered in a smooth caramel frosting, then finished off with a caramel and ganache drip and chopped pecans! 

Ingredients

CARAMEL PECAN FILLING:

  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup salted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt

SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoon salted butter, cubed
  • ½ cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

CHOCOLATE CAKE LAYERS:

  • 2 and ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 and ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 and ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 and ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 and ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 and ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and ½ tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 2 and ¼ cups buttermilk, room temperature

SALTED CARAMEL BUTTERCREAM:

  • 3 cups Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
  • 12 cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • ¾ cup Salted Caramel Sauce, cooled completely(recipe above)
  • 3-6 tablespoon heavy cream or milk, as needed

GANACHE DRIP:

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream

ADDITIONAL GARNISH:

  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • Whole pecans
This Turtle Chocolate Layer Cake starts with rich, decadent and moist chocolate cake layers that are filled with a caramel pecan sauce and covered in a smooth caramel frosting, then finished off with a caramel and ganache drip and chopped pecans! 

Instruction

FOR THE CARAMEL PECAN FILLING:

  1. To make the Toasted Pecans, start by toasting the pecans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small microwave-safe bowl for about 30 seconds. Drizzle the melted butter over the pecans and mix them together to evenly coat them.
  3. Bake for 5-6 minutes, until pecans are roasted and aromatic, on a preheated baking sheet.
  4. Take the pecans out of the oven and coarsely chop them. Remove from the equation.
  5. To make the caramel sauce, place the sugar in a big heavy-bottomed non-stick saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring regularly with a heat resistant rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until the sugar is melted and the color turns a medium amber caramel. If the sugar clumps up, don’t panic; just keep swirling and it will melt nicely. Keep an eye on the saucepan since the sugar can quickly burn, forcing you to start over.
  6. Add the butter cubes as soon as the caramel gets a rich amber color, whisking frequently until the butter is melted and well mixed.
  7. Once the butter has melted, carefully pour in the heavy cream while whisking rapidly, being careful not to let it boil away. If your cream is too cold, the caramel may begin to clump together. If that’s the case, just keep swirling until the caramel melts again.
  8. Allow 1 minute for the caramel to boil before removing it from the heat. Combine the vanilla (optional) and salt in a mixing bowl. If you don’t want the caramel to be salted, leave out the salt.
  9. Stir in the toasted nuts until they are evenly distributed throughout the caramel sauce.
  10. Allow it cool to room temperature before pouring into an airtight jar or container. Place in the refrigerator or set away until ready to use.

FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE:

  • To prepare a smaller amount of salted caramel sauce, repeat steps 5-8 above. Allow to cool fully before using, or keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). Grease four 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment circles. Remove from the equation.
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large mixing basin. Set aside after whisking everything together.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 4-6 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl’s edges and bottom.
  4. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl’s edges and bottom..
  5. Combine the vanilla and instant coffee granules in a small dish. Combine the sour cream and vanilla coffee mixture in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until well blended.
  6. Beginning and finishing with the dry ingredients, alternately add dry ingredients in thirds and buttermilk in two additions to the batter. Each addition should be beaten just until merged. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans, about 2 cups each pan.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, two layers at a time, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly touched.
  8. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool for approximately 10 minutes in the pans before turning them out onto cooling racks to cool fully before icing. Alternatively, cover all of the cake layers in plastic wrap and freeze or refrigerate until ready to assemble.

FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL BUTTERCREAM:

  1. 5-6 minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the softened butter until very pale and fluffy.
  2. Scrape down the bowl’s edges and bottom.
  3. One cup at a time, add half of the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until mixed after each cup.
  4. Once mixed, add the cooled salted caramel sauce and beat until smooth and blended.
  5. Mix in the remaining powdered sugar one cup at a time on low speed until everything is mixed. If the frosting is too thick, add 1 spoonful of heavy cream at a time until the appropriate consistency is reached.
  6. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat for 5-7 minutes, or until the frosting is light and fluffy.

FOR THE GANACHE:

  1. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl’s edges and bottom.
  2. Combine the vanilla and instant coffee granules in a small dish. Combine the sour cream and vanilla coffee mixture in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until well blended.
  3. Beginning and finishing with the dry ingredients, alternately add dry ingredients in thirds and buttermilk in two additions to the batter. Each addition should be beaten just until merged. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans, about 2 cups each pan.

ASSEMBLY OF THE TURTLE CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE:

  1. Place a dab of frosting on a turntable cake board or serving dish with an offset spatula. Place one cake layer on top of the other and spread roughly 1 cup of salted caramel buttercream on top.
  2. Fill a disposable piping bag halfway with frosting and cut off the tip. Pipe a rim around the cake’s edges, then pour a cup of pecan caramel sauce on top and spread evenly. Rep with the remaining layers, inverting the final one.
  3. A thin coating of salted caramel buttercream is applied to the entire cake. Allow 30 minutes for the cake to chill.
  4. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and cover it in a thick layer of frosting. Refrigerate the cake for another 30 minutes or place it in the freezer for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and apply a thin layer of icing around the bottom. To adhere to the new frosting, press the chopped pecans up the bottom.
  6. Snip the tip of a disposable piping bag or a ziploc bag to separate the ganache from the leftover caramel sauce. Fill the middle of the cake with ganache dripped from the cake’s edge. Spread the ganache over the top using an offset spatula. Pour the caramel sauce on top of the ganache and repeat these processes.
  7. To make a border, line some pecan halves around the top and sprinkle extra chopped nuts in the center. Cut and serve!
This Turtle Chocolate Layer Cake starts with rich, decadent and moist chocolate cake layers that are filled with a caramel pecan sauce and covered in a smooth caramel frosting, then finished off with a caramel and ganache drip and chopped pecans! 

Source: Queenslee Appétit

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