There is a restaurant called Cafe Latte’ on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, MN. It’s almost three restaurants in one. They serve up-scale food cafeteria style, they have a pizza/wine bar, and a retail bakery. We’ve enjoyed every single thing we’ve ever tried there, and that’s saying a lot because we’ve been going there for a lot of years. One of the things they’re most known for is their Turtle Cake. It’s absolutely delicious!
This year we celebrated a bunch of spring and summer celebrations at one small family event. I decided I should try to make my own version of Turtle Cake. The recipe for the Cafe Latte’ Turtle Cake can be found on the web, but truth be told I had a little trouble with that recipe and decided to strike out on my own. I melded together some different recipes to come up with an excellent cake of my own.
The cake starts with a really moist, chocolate cake which I ever so slightly adapted from the King Arthur Flour Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake recipe. Next is a smooth fudgy frosting studded with toasted pecans, and then all of that layered with caramel sauce. You could use caramel sauce from a jar. Next time I’ll either do that, or I’ll make caramel sauce from scratch. The recipe you’ll find here is a little too runny.
Here’s how I made the cake.
Cake: (recipe adapted from Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake by King Arthur Flour)
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons (3/8 ounce) cornstarch
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour, then line with parchment, three 9″ round cake pans.
To make the cake: Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Gradually add the water, beating until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pans dividing equally. (A kitchen scale comes in really handy here.)
Bake the cakes for about 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn them out of the pans to cool completely on a rack.
Caramel Sauce – Warning! This recipe is runny and I recommend using caramel sauce from a jar for a less runny sauce.
One package Werther’s Caramels
2 T. heavy cream
Remove the caramels from their wrappers and place in a small saucepan with the cream. Place the pan over medium low heat and stir occasionally until the caramels melt. Set aside to cool. You will need about 3/4 c. of sauce
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
6 T. butter
2 cups good-quality semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. toasted pecans for garnish
Mix sugar and milk in saucepan. Add butter and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips. Using wire whisk, mix until smooth. If
frosting is too thick or grainy, add 1 or 2 teaspoons hot coffee.
To assemble cake: Place one cooled cake layer, top-side down, on cake plate. Spread
with one-third of frosting, pushing it out gently from edges to make a petal effect.
Sprinkle with 1/2 cup pecans, Drizzle with 1/4 cup caramel. Add next layer, again
top-side down. Repeat frosting and sprinkle with 1/2 cup pecans and drizzle with 1/4 cup
caramel. Place final layer top side up. frost with petal effect and finish with remaining
pecans and caramel.
By the way! The photos have not been altered. The grass in the above photo really was that green!!