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A Canadian Foodie's Original Cheater Turtle Cake Recipe

This Cheater Turtle Cake is an ACF Original recipe from 1989 inspired by a past student. It is the best caramel chocolate cake recipe you will ever make out of a box.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Canadian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 1 cake
Author Valerie Lugonja


Ingredients for Cake:

  • One Devil's Food or very dark chocolate double layer cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup water

Ingredients for Cheater Caramel Filling:

  • 2/3 can of sweetened condensed milk (usually Eaglebrand)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 50 Kraft Caramels , peeled

Ingredients for FIlling:

  • 1 generous cup pecans , toasted
  • 1 generous cup excellent quality chocolate chip chunks (like Callebault)
  • 1 batch of Cheater Caramel Filling

Ingredients for Garnish:

  • Icing sugar
  • Mint leaves
  • Berries
  • Whipped Cream
  • More whole pecans , toasted


Instructions for Cheater Cake:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F; place rack is in middle
  2. Prepare 9 inch springform cake pan: butter and flour bottom
  3. Place disc of parchment paper on bottom; butter both sides of it
  4. Follow directions on box; pour 1/2 batter into springform pan (best to be less than half than more than half)
  5. Place in oven; bake for 15 minutes (set timer)

Instructions for Cheater Caramel Filling:

  1. Place all ingredients into small heavy sauce pan; heat, stirring regularly, until caramels are melted and all ingredients fully incorporated into a thick mass

Instructions for the Filling: (Layer ingredients as quickly as possible so cake doesn't lose heat)

  1. Prepare the nuts and chocolate so they are ready when the cake comes out of the oven
  2. Remove cake from oven at 15 minutes; surface tension should be taught
  3. Starting with chocolate around outer edge of pan and in toward middle, sprinkle completely over cake until covered single layer
  4. Repeat process with toasted pecans; stir caramel filling and pour along inside of pan rim in the same manner as the chocolate and the nuts, until completely covered with chocolate
  5. Pour remaining cake batter over caramel filling, ensuring that it is completely covered with batter

Instructions for Baking the Cake:

  1. Return cake to oven; bake another 50 to 60 minutes, until toothpick comes out completely clean in the middle: when in doubt, don't take it out.... best to not have middle sink (leave in 5-6 more minutes or up to 60 minutes)
  2. Remove from oven and rest for 20 minutes on cake rack: set timer for 20 minutes
  3. Instructions for Storing Cake until Service:
  4. Cake must still be warm to push toasted pecans vertically against side of caramel filling; pecans of same size look best, spaced at regular intervals (work quickly)
  5. For easy removal of cake from pan later, set cake on top of large sheet of plastic wrap with spring form bottom still in tact; wrap cake up sides (usually takes 2-3 sheets of wrap), even if still warm and set back into springform pan
  6. Store in fridge or wrap completely and store in freezer

Serving the Cake:

  1. Thaw completely, if frozen; remove springform pan
  2. Set on serving tray or pedestal; dust with icing sugar
  3. If there is a dip in the cake, fill with toasted pecans; dust with more icing sugar
  4. Slice and serve with a sprig of mint, a berry, and whipping cream