Jul 20, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Saving the Turtle (Cake)

Dana Carvey in Master of Disguises
Turtle cake is:

a. an enigma,
b. a conundrum,
c. a non sequitur,
d.  all of the above.

Let's go with d: Turtle cake is not shaped like a turtle.  It isn't even tinted green.  It was not created by nor served at the Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles. (Like Dana Carvey, it may not even be turtley enough for the Turtle Club.  Uhhh, you'd have to see the movie to get the line, and it's about the only memorable line in the movie so I'm not recommending a viewing.) 

Turtle meat is not an ingredient in the cake and absolutely no turtles were harmed in the making of this cake.

Who really knows why the Hoopers thought calling a chocolate/caramel/pecan candy a "turtle" would make it appealing.  But strangely enough, their plan worked out well and most any confection that combines these three ingredients is now bestowed with the name "turtle" in its title.

What I do know is that turtle cake is decadent and delicious.   It's kind of like German chocolate cake with more gooey-ness and no coconut.  And it's fairly easy to make, as cakes go.  Our first exposure came from - you guessed it - an Oklahoma friend - -the same one who gave me this delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe .

And Middle Child wanted a turtle cake for his birthday last week.

But this is also a story of rescuing this poor cake from the jaws of disaster.  It started off innocently:  just cake mix, eggs, oil and water, plus the filling (caramels and evaporated milk.)

About an hour later, I pulled the finished cake from the oven and sprinkled milk chocolate chips over it, hoping to shortcut the frosting step since Swimmer Girl was going to be late for a dentist appointment otherwise.

On my way out the door, I instructed the Birthday Boy to GENTLY smear the chocolate chips when they softened.  Key word:  GENTLY.  He called me and said the chips were not smearing.  I advised him to microwave it for 30 seconds and try again.  Key words:  30 SECONDS. No. more. 

This is what I came home to find.
It actually looked worse in real-life.  Like crusty moon craters.
 Fortunately, this cake is forgiving and will adapt to a soaked-in glaze frosting. So I carefully scraped off the chocolate mess down to the cake.
Poor thing had looked like it had third-degree burns all over the top.

And placed said mess in the double boiler with some cocoa, butter, milk and powdered sugar.  Heated to boiling while vigorously whisking it to something fairly smooth, then poured it back over the cake to achieve a fudgy glaze.

Thank heaven (and mom!) for double boilers!

What lesson did I learn? Do not entrust my male family members with frosting the cake.  They do many, MANY things well, but making confectioneries are not their forte.
Happy birthday, birthday boy!
I also learned that turtle cake is just as delicious as I remembered.

Turtle Cake

Cake Ingredients:
1 box German chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 1/3 cups water

Filling Ingredients:
1 package caramels, unwrapped
4 ounces evaporated milk
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Have 9x13 pan greased and ready.  Preheat oven to 350.  Mix cake ingredients together at low speed for 30 seconds, then at medium speed for two minutes.  Pour half of cake batter into pan and bake for 20 minutes.

While the bottom of the cake is baking, melt caramels and milk in heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.  As soon as cake springs back to touch, pour caramel mixture over the top, sprinkle with chips and then top with remaining cake batter. Continue baking for 20-25 minutes or until top layer is done.  Frosting is optional.  (Gilding the lily and all that.)

Note:  in my rendition, I saved the chips for the top of the cake.  When salvaging it, I made a glaze similar to the boiled frosting I use on chocolate sheet cake.

Happy baking and rescuing,