Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Loca Luna's Turtle Cake

Well, I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day filled with romance and chocolate treats. One of my favorite treats are turtles. Those chocolate pieces embedded with big pecans and buttery caramel are hard to resist.  Even better, put those flavors into a cake and you will have something truly unforgettable.

Chocolate, caramel and pecans are included in this recipe, but I know you are wondering what is the white streak running through the bottom of the cake. It is the over the top factor-a cream cheese mixture that is simmered over heat to create an sweet, candy-like confection.

No, you will not find the typical, fluffy cream cheese swirl that is in several baked goods in this cake. The method may be the same but the results are far better. Even though swirled into the batter, most of the mixture sinks down to the nuts on the bottom.

Based on that, it is important that you line your baking pan with parchment and wait until the cake is 100% cool before icing and removing from the pan.  Also, it takes 2 hours for the icing to set.  The recipe makes no reference to removing cake from the pan, so it may be better to make the cake a day before serving and take it out of the pan only when ready to cut and serve. This cake serves about 12 to 16 people, depending on how big or small the pieces of cake are cut.

Loca Luna's Turtle Cake
adapted from Bon Appetit (prior to 2000)

3 eggs (room temp)
1 1/4 cups of water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1 cup toasted chopped almonds
1 (18.25 oz) German chocolate cake mix    
1 8oz pkg cream cheese (at room temperature and cubed)
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter (room temp)
3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

5 tbs whole milk
1/4 cup or 1/2 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cups of caramel ice cream topping (also regular dulce de leche can be thinned over heat with cream to make it drizzling consistency)

Prepare a 9X13 inch metal pan by greasing with butter. Also, line with parchment on the bottom and two long sides, folding over excess on the long sides to use as lift "handles" to remove the cake after baking.  Grease the parchment on the side facing up, covering bottom and sides.  Flour all the inside of the pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with only 1/2 cup of the pecans and 1/2 of the almonds.  The rest of the nuts will be reserved for later use.

With an electric mixer beat (at low speed) cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil and water together in a large bowl until it becomes a batter and no dry ingredients remain.  This should take about 30 seconds.  Then put the mixer at medium speed and beat for 2 minutes more.  Pour batter into pan and set aside.

Place butter in a saucepan over medium low heat.  Once the butter is completely melted, sift in the powdered sugar in half cup increments, stirring after each.  This mixture will form into clumps. Start mixing in the cubes of cream cheese.  Continue stirring and adding all cubes of cream cheese.  Once cream cheese is completely melted and no lumps remain, remove from heat.

Pour cream cheese mixture over cake batter in wide ribbons. Then take a knife and swirl through the batter, being careful not to over mix.  As stated before, this process did not create any swirl in the finished cake-most of it sunk to the bottom.  I believe that the sinking of the mixture was the intent since the recipe stated that the bottom of the cake would be very moist. I am not really sure of the reason for the knife "swirling".

Bake the cake for about 50 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool cake on rack (note previous comments concerning cake cooling).After cake is cooled, prepare the icing.

In a medium bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cocoa.  Then fill a saucepan with the milk and butter. Then place the pan over medium heat. Once the mixture is melted and simmering, turn down heat and add powdered sugar.  Stir or whisk the mixture over heat until the sugar is melted.  Add the chocolate chips and vanilla extract and continue to mix. After chocolate is melted and icing is smooth, remove from heat.

Sprinkle remaining nuts over cake and then drizzle the warm chocolate icing over the top.  Let stand until icing is completely set, which should take about 2 hours.  Then add the final touch by drizzling the caramel over the top.