Turtle Cupcakes

My office threw a surprise party for a co-worker’s new house. My co-worker’s favorite type of cake is German Chocolate Cake, and she loves turtles (the animals). At first I had planned to make fondant decorations in the shape of turtles for the top, but didn’t have any fondant! I ended up making an abstract take on the word “turtle”, instead choosing to use the turtle candy (caramel nut clusters dipped in chocolate) as my inspiration.

I made these late the night before the party and it was my first time baking just a plain chocolate cake from scratch. I adapted a recipe from one of my favorite sites, Cupcake Bake Shop by Chockylit. I used her chocolate cupcake recipe because I loved the use of espresso powder. I added in mini-chocolate chips because I wanted the cupcakes to have different textures between the chocolate cake, chips, and the filling.

One of the best things about German Chocolate Cake is that thick, gooey, coconut-pecan frosting from a tub. I wanted that gooey texture in the middle, so I bought the frosting pre-made instead of making it myself. A straight apple corer made quick work of the centers, my handy-dandy assistant piped in some frosting, and I filled the holes with the previously removed cake.

I was worried the cupcakes would be too sweet with the filling, chocolate cake, and chocolate chips, so I opted for a thin layer of semi-sweet chocolate ganache glaze. Half of the cupcakes were topped with turtle candies and the other half were sprinkled with some more mini chocolate chips. Before topping the cupcakes with turtle candies, I spelled out “Congrats!” with my co-worker’s name and her fiance’s.

Since this was a surprise party, I couldn’t bring my camera to take pictures of the finished set-up since that would have been suspicious. I wrote on the candies using Williams-Sonoma writing icing, heated up. I prefer this icing to others because it dries very quickly, and when you’re done using the icing, it becomes solid for easy storage. The only down-side is that it sometimes clogs when writing.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes

adapted from Chockylit
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

  • 3/4 c. (1-1/2 sticks) butter
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1-1/2 c. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition. Measure remaining dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine. Measure the milk and vanilla into a measuring cup or bowl with spout. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Add in the chocolate chips, however much you want. Continue alternating between dry and wet ingredients, finishing with the dry. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 3/4’s full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-27 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Chocolate Glaze

  • 4 ounces chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat cream in a saucepan until bubbles form around the edge. Place chocolate in a bowl, pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until smooth. Add vanilla and stir until combined. Refrigerate to cool. If the mixture becomes too thick to spread, heat it up again.

Everyone in my office loved the cupcakes, though some prefered the Banana Pudding Cupcakes I made a little over a month ago. My co-worker said she liked the “font” I used for cupcakes, but she never said if she liked them or not.

A few people said they didn’t like coconut, so I made some non-filled cupcakes in a silicone mold…that didn’t work out. I tried to get the cupcakes out and they fell apart. I guess the silicone mold is only meant to be used for muffins!

Has anyone successfully cooked cupcakes in silicone molds? I also had overflow with these cupcakes, do you think it was because I cooked them in liners and a pan (as opposed to the min-souffle cups I usually use)?

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