Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

One of my all time favorite candies have to be Turtles. Those Nutty pecans and creamy caramel candies dipped in chocolate can’t be beat. Growing up I could always count on a box of turtles being hidden in my Christmas stocking. It was torture knowing that the turtles were in the stocking but not being able to touch them until Christmas morning. When December 25th arrived I would race into our living room and devour a couple of candies before opening gifts. Who cares if it was only eight in the morning…I thought they were the perfect breakfast! :D These cupcakes are inspired by those delicious turtle candies. Rich chocolate cupcakes filled with a creamy caramel and pecan filling and topped with a caramel frosting, drizzled with caramel and chocolate and sprinkled with roasted pecans. If that doesn’t get your mouthwatering…I don’t know what will! ;)

One Year Ago: Cappuccino Muffins

Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

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For the Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Caramel Filling:

  • 3 sticks butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped

For the Caramel Frosting:

  • 4 ½ to 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line two muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bow. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture chocolate is melted and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated.
  6. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla, starting and ending with flour. Mix until just incorporated, do not over-beat.
  7. Divide the batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean.Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before filling with caramel.
  8. To make the caramel sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the salt and brown sugar and heat the mixture to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, until the sugar is totally dissolved. Stir in the milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm, about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Spread the 1 cup of pecans onto a baking sheet and place in preheated oven 5-7 minutes until fragrant. Shake the baking sheet halfway through baking so the nuts will toast evenly. Remove nuts from oven and set aside to cool completely.
  10. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a paring knife or apple corer to cut out a small circle in the center of each cupcake. Remove the core and trim leaving the core just big enough to be used to plug the hole once it is filled.
  11. To make the cupcake filling, in a medium bowl, combine 3/4 cup chopped pecans and 1/2 cup of the cooled caramel sauce and mix to coat. Drop a spoonful of the filling mixture into each cupcake. 
  12. Once the filling is in place, place the trimmed core of the cupcake back in place.
  13. Reserve three tablespoons of caramel sauce for drizzling over frosted cupcakes.
  14. To make the frosting, transfer remaining caramel sauce to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the powdered sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Adjust consistency with a little more milk or powdered sugar, if necessary.
  15. Heat chocolate chips in microwave for about 30 seconds or until drizzling consistency.
  16. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip. Pipe a spiral of icing, beginning at the outer edge and working inward. Drizzle the frosted cupcakes with the reserved three tablespoons of caramel sauce, melted chocolate and garnish with remaining 1/4 cup toasted pecans.

Yields: 24 cupcakes

Source: Cupcakes from Baker’s Royale, originally from More From Magnolia. Caramel Filling and Frosting from Sugar Duchess, originally from KAF Baker’s Companion.

42 Responses to “Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes”

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    Judy — August 26, 2011 @ 10:48 am

    Well, these are gonna put my Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes to shame, but I’ll post it anyway ;) Really, these look AMAZING!

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    Deb — August 26, 2011 @ 10:58 am

    Amazing bundles of delight! I do want to try these, as Turtle’s are popular at my house also. I remember that I had never tried a Turtle. Many years ago, my manager at work brought me one, and I was hooked! Adore that your post is informative yet concise. The step-by-step instructions along with the photos are perfect.

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    Kristen@PrettySweet — August 26, 2011 @ 11:16 am

    Our family would love those! Especially my mom – turtles have always been her favorite, too. She used to make some herself. =) Beautiful cupcakes!

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    Amy — August 26, 2011 @ 11:47 am

    As usual, another delicious dessert. Reminds me of caramel brownies. That filling in the middle looks particularly tasty :)

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    Caroline — August 26, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

    As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I don’t like chocolate, but WOW these look amazing Christina!! That filling is to die for. And I think it’s completely OK to eat sweets at 8 a.m. (coming from the girl who has a sweet tooth problem), ha!

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    freshandfoodie — August 26, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

    How indulgent! I love turtles, too — what’s not to like? What a great idea for a cupcake.

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    Anita Menon — August 26, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

    They are gorgeous. Caramel, pecan, all my favourite ingredients.

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    Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust — August 26, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

    I have been wanting to make some version of Turtles for a long time. Thank you for the wonderful recipe! They are beautiful too. :)

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    Bluejellybeans — August 26, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

    Another mind blowing recipe! can wait to try it at home :)

  10. #
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    ChgoJohn — August 26, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

    You continue to dazzle us. Like you, I love Turtles and these cupcakes are a dream come true.

  11. #
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    Reem | Simply Reem — August 26, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

    OMG this is sinfully Delicious!!!! These cupcakes are delight….. God I need one of this now.
    Lovely.

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    Bake Your Day — August 26, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

    I love the flavors of turtles! There’s a frozen custard place that we go to and the turtle sundae is my favorite. Love these!

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    Stefanie — August 26, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

    Oh wow…. yummy!! They look absolutely beautiful! I love that the filling is caramel and pecan. Adds a great texture to the cupcakes, along with an amazing sounding frosting :)

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    Tina@flourtrader — August 27, 2011 @ 5:39 am

    These really look tasty! I will definitely have to hang on to this recipe and make these. Stunning pictures.

  15. #
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    Lauren at Keep It Sweet — August 27, 2011 @ 7:41 am

    That caramel filling sounds amazing!!

  16. #
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    Liz — August 27, 2011 @ 7:56 am

    Truly irresistible!!! LOVE these beautiful cupcakes!

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    Sandi — August 27, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    Just beautiful. Top 9, here you come! ;)

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    Holly — August 27, 2011 @ 10:45 am

    I am LOVING that filling! These cupcakes look amazing!

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    Fran {The Flavorful Fork} — August 27, 2011 @ 11:50 am

    These look A-mazing! Love the idea of the caramel surprise inside.

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    Vicki @ WITK — August 27, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

    These look great, such a wonderful interpretation of a turtle! Beautiful!

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    Pauletta — August 27, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

    Your husband brought these into work yesterday. They were AWESOME!!!! I love, love, love turtles. They really did taste like turtles. I’m going to try making them myself…..soon as life slows down for me.

    • Christina replied: — August 31st, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

      Pauletta,
      By the way Andrew was looking at these cupcakes I wasn’t sure they would actually make it into work. I figured that he would have devoured them all and told me that he shared them with you guys! Haha! I am so glad that you enjoyed them! :) Thanks so much for letting me know! If you end of giving them a try let me know how they turn out for you! :)

  22. #
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    Sasha @ The Procrastobaker — August 28, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

    Good grief these look mightyyy fine! What a treat :)

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    Lauren @ hey, who cut the cheese? — August 28, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

    Those are some good looking cupcakes ;) Thank you for sharing!

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    Tres Delicious — August 28, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

    Wonderful frostings. I love this turtle cupcakes.

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    Lynette — August 28, 2011 @ 8:32 pm

    Love this recipe. If you could post how to make the caramel filling. How long to cook it? I can’t wait to make them… Thank you

    • Christina replied: — August 28th, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

      Lynette,
      Thank you so much for pointing out that I omitted how to make the caramel sauce. I just added it. :) If you give them a try, let me know how they turn out for you! :)

      • Lynette replied: — August 29th, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

        Thank you so much! I am so excited to try them and especailly eat them. They look wonderful. Thank you for updating the sauce. I knew i couldnt figure that out on my own . I will for sure let you know how they turn out! Thank you…

  26. #
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    cookingcacophony — August 28, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

    Yumm my dad is a turtle fanatic. Perhaps I should make these for father’s day next year…

  27. #
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    Beth Michelle — August 29, 2011 @ 2:34 am

    These dont look absolutely amazing or anything like that… Your cupcakes are beautiful and by the looks of it delicious!!

  28. #
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    RavieNomNoms — August 29, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

    Oh my goodness gracious! These look so amazing…turtle cupcakes sound like heaven right now! yummy

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    Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide — August 29, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

    Wow, look at those. So I just went to bourbon country and am thinking the only thing that would make these better would be bourbon. But since the recipe’s perfect, guess I’ll just put it on the side.

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    sandraleegarthSandra — August 29, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

    Mission accoomplished my mouth is watering!

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    Chau — September 5, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

    I made these the other day and the chocolate cupcakes are so moist and delicious! No more boxed cake mix for me :D

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    Christine — September 6, 2011 @ 9:26 am

    Half of the cupcakes I decorated with a caramel icing with a little fleur de sel! If you like cupcakes with a french touch, give it a try! They`re really delicous!!!

    • Christina replied: — September 7th, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

      Christine,
      The fleur de sel on top sounds delicious! I will definitely have to give it a try next time I make these cupcakes. I am so glad that you liked them! :)

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    Baker200 — October 28, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

    Made these and they absolutely did not turn out. Very very very disapointed. There was waaay too much caramel, and I am convinced the recipe should make more than 24 (we used extra large muffin sized pans). A huge waste of ingredients as they were not even able to make it out of the pan in one piece. I have been making cupcakes for years and this is the first time a recipe does not turn out. Definitely will not be making these again.

    • Christina replied: — November 1st, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

      I am so sad to hear that these cupcakes did not turn out for you! :( I am not sure why you had so much extra batter….I have made the base cupcakes so many times and have always ended up with 24 regular sized cupcakes. As for the extra caramel, it really is based on personal preference on how much frosting and filling goes into the cupcakes. So depending on how much you fill and pipe frosting on the cupcakes you may have a little caramel left. I always like to play it safe and have a little more. Nothing is more frustrating than having to go back and make more frosting or filling.

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    Desiree' — December 30, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

    Hi, the recipie looks great! But, I was wondering how many cupcakes this makes, and if the powdered sugar taste is overpowering in the frosting?

    • Christina replied: — January 2nd, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

      Desiree’,
      This recipe makes 24 cupcakes. The powdered sugar is not overpowering in the frosting at all. These are one of my favorite cupcakes! If you give them a try I would love to hear how they turn out! :)

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    Vera Zecevic – Cupcakes Garden — November 1, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    These cupcakes are absolutely amazing! I’m delighted with them! I’ve featured this recipes on my blog! I hope you don’t mind! If you don’t agree with that please contact me and I will remove it. All the best.

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    Sally — December 1, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

    Made these for my coworkers and they loooooooooved them! Only thing I did different was I did NOT use all of the extra caramel in the frosting and I’m glad I didn’t. It would have been too much. I also found that I had a lot of frosting left over so I may use 3.5 cups of powdered sugar next time.

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

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