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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Turtle Cake

Photo courtesy Taste of Homes
   One of the nice things about living in small town is that you never know when and a wave and a nod might turn into casual conversation, then on to a new friendship. 
   Recently, I found a new food friend and discovered that she had a serious sweet tooth and liked to bake. Oh, the conversation was so "on" at that point, like a good old-fashioned recipe swap. 
    She told me about how she and her granddaughter made a turtle cake. The name alone made me curious, but it sounded amazing - three tantalizing layers of mocha chocolate cake, drizzled with chocolate frosting and caramel topping, and sprinkled nuts and peanut butter cups. Wow! 
    I would not call this a beginner recipe, but one you'll want to save for special occasions.

Turtle Cake
prep 40 min, bake 23 min, cool 10 min, chill 1-2 hours
unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (1 T. lemon juice or vinegar plus milk)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup freshly brewed coffee
chocolate frosting (see below)
1-1/2 cups pecan pieces, toasted
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
Hershey's peanut butter cup minis (optional)

Cake
   Grease three 9-inch cake pans. Line bottom with parchment paper. Grease paper and dust with unsweetened cocoa powder. Set aside.
   In small bowl, mix egg, buttermilk and vegetable oil. Set aside. In large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add buttermilk mixture to flour, beating well with electric mixer until well combine. Slowly beat in coffee. Pour into cake pans.
   Bake at 350 degrees for 23 minutes or so,until knife comes out of center clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Loosen sides and then invert on racks if you have them, plates if you don't. Remove paper and cool completely. When cakes are cool, make frosting. (See below.)
    Put one cake top side down on large plat with lip (for frosting excess). With wide knife, cover with one third of frosting. Sprinkle top with nuts and drizzle with caramel ice cream topping. Place second layer, top side down on frosted cake and repeat process. Put third cake, top side up and repeat with frosting, nuts and caramel. Sprinkle crumbled peanut butter cups on top. Chill 1-2 hours. Serves 12-16.

Chocolate Frosting
   In medium pan, mix 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup milk. Add 6 T. butter, cut into cubes. Bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add a 12 oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate pieces (2 cups). Stir chocolate until smooth.  If frosting is too thick, add 1 tsp. or so of coffee. Let stand while you assemble cake. Makes about 2-1/2 cups.
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