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!
Caramel Pecan Filling:
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup salted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Salted Caramel Sauce:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 Tbsp salted butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Chocolate Cake Layers:
- 2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 and 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 and 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsp instant coffee granules
- 2 and 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
Salted Caramel Buttercream:
- 3 cups Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
- 12 cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
- 3/4 cup Salted Caramel Sauce, cooled completely(recipe above)
- 3-6 Tbsp heavy cream or milk, as needed
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- Whole pecans
For the Caramel Pecan Filling:
- For the Toasted Pecans: Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.
- In a small bowl, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Drizzle the melted butter onto the pecans and toss together to coat pecans.
- Spread pecans onto prepared baking sheet and bake in oven for 5-6 minutes until toasted and fragrant.
- Remove the pecans from the oven and roughly chop. Set aside.
- For the Caramel Sauce: Add the sugar to a large heavy-bottomed non-stick saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly using a heat resistant rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until the sugar is melted and turns a medium amber caramel colour. Don’t worry if the sugar clumps up, just keep stirring and it will melt smoothly. Keep a close eye on the pot as the sugar can easily burn, and you would have to start over again.
- As soon as the caramel turns a deep amber, add the butter cubes, whisking constantly until butter is melted and fully combined.
- Once butter is combined, slowly pour in the heavy cream while whisking vigorously, be careful as it will begin to bubble up furiously. The caramel may begin to clump together if your cream is too cold. If so, just continue stirring until caramel melts back down.
- Allow caramel to boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla (optional) and salt. You can leave out the salt if you don’t want the caramel to be salted.
- Add the chopped toasted pecans to the caramel sauce and stir until combined.
- Let caramel cool to room temperature before pouring into a jar or an airtight container. Set aside or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the Salted Caramel Sauce:
- Repeat the above steps 5-8 to make another smaller batch of salted caramel sauce. Set aside to cool completely or store in a jar or an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the Chocolate Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350° F (177°C). Prepare four 8-inch round cake pans with parchment rounds, and grease the sides. Set aside.