Filed Under: Cakes & Cupcakes

Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

Recipe By Danielle Rye
November 25th, 2016
5 from 1 vote
5 from 1 vote

These Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes feature a soft and light chocolate cupcake, a rich caramel frosting, and are topped with caramel sauce and chopped pecans.

Yield: 16 cupcakes

Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Incredibly rich and decadent.
Texture: The cupcakes are soft and light, the frosting is incredibly rich and creamy, and the pecans add a nice crunch.
Ease: These can be a little time consuming to make.
Appearance:  The caramel sauce and chopped pecans make these look so decadent and delicious!
Pros: Absolutely delicious and perfect for anyone who loves the combination of chocolate, caramel, and pecans.
Cons: They do some time to make, but you can easily make these ahead of time!
Would I make this again? Definitely!

Please welcome Danielle from Live Well Bake Often as she shares this Chocolate Turtle Cupcake recipe! Be sure to check out her delicious blog for me! -Tessa

Hi everyone!  It’s Danielle from Live Well Bake Often and I’m back with another treat for you that is perfect for the holidays.  If you love turtles, then you’ll absolutely adore these Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes.

These Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes feature a soft and light chocolate cupcake, a rich caramel frosting, and are topped with caramel sauce and chopped pecans.

The base of the recipe starts with my favorite homemade chocolate cupcake recipe.  These cupcakes can easily be made ahead of time and they freeze beautifully!

One thing to note is that the cupcake recipe does call for some instant espresso powder, which is there to enhance the chocolate flavor.  If you don’t have any espresso powder you can use either instant coffee granules, 1/2 cup of coffee, or you can simply just leave it out.  But, if you can get your hands on some instant espresso powder I definitely suggest using it.  It’s perfect to add to other desserts with chocolate as well and I can assure you that it won’t make your cupcakes taste like coffee either.

These Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes feature a soft and light chocolate cupcake, a rich caramel frosting, and are topped with caramel sauce and chopped pecans.

For the caramel frosting, you’ll need just a few easy ingredients.  You’ll make the caramel on the stove and set it aside to cool for about 15 minutes.  I love to make the caramel while the cupcakes are baking, so it’s cooling while the cupcakes are cooling too.

Once the caramel has cooled, you’ll mix in some powdered sugar.  The caramel frosting in this recipe is super rich and delicious.  If you’re a caramel lover, I think you’ll absolutely love this frosting!  You can certainly feel free to scale back a little on the frosting though.

These Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes feature a soft and light chocolate cupcake, a rich caramel frosting, and are topped with caramel sauce and chopped pecans.

For the toppings you can really use anything you like on these cupcakes.  A little homemade caramel sauce and some chopped pecans are some great options.  You can also use a little melted chocolate drizzled on top of these instead of the caramel sauce.  Either way, you really can’t go wrong with these Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes!

5 from 1 vote

How to make
Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

Yield: 16 cupcakes
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
These Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes feature a soft and light chocolate cupcake, a rich caramel frosting, and are topped with caramel sauce and chopped pecans.


For the chocolate cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (127 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

For the caramel frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar


  • Caramel sauce
  • Chocolate
  • Chopped Pecans


To make the chocolate cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-count cupcake pans with 16 cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the granulated sugar and brown sugar until well combined. Using a whisk or an electric mixer, mix in the oil, egg, vanilla extract, and buttermilk until just combined.
  3. Add the instant espresso powder into the boiling water and mix until dissolved, then add to the mixing bowl. Mix with the rest of the ingredients until well combined, making sure not to over mix the batter. The batter will be thin, this is okay.
  4. Evenly distribute the batter between all 16 cupcakes liners, making sure to only fill them a little over halfway full. Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

To make the caramel frosting:

  1. Add the butter to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add in the brown sugar and heavy cream and stir until fully combined. Allow to cook for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture starts bubbling, reduce heat to low and continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and salt until fully combined. Pour the caramel sauce into a mixing bowl and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  2. After 15 minutes, add in the powdered sugar and mix with a handheld mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) until fully combined. Pipe the frosting on the cooled cupcakes as desired, top with additional caramel sauce (or chocolate) and chopped pecans.

Recipe Notes

Chocolate cupcakes adapted from Hershey's
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

About Danielle...

Danielle is a self-taught baker and the blogger behind Live Well, Bake Often. She loves spending time in the kitchen creating new recipes to share with her readers as well as sharing tips to help them along the way. When she's not in the kitchen baking, she's usually spending time with her husband and three dogs.

Find Danielle on  

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  1. #
    Anna — November 25, 2016 at 11:55 am

    These cupcakes look beyond amazing! Two great flavors coming together.

  2. #
    Maria @ kitchenathoskins — November 25, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Chocolate cupcakes with caramel frosting! They look divine

  3. #
    Ashley — November 30, 2016 at 4:17 am

    Would it work to make these cupcakes into an 8×8 square cake? If so, how long should I bake it?


    • #
      Danielle Rye — November 30, 2016 at 8:27 pm

      I think that should be fine, you’ll need to increase the baking time. If I’m making a cake with this cupcake recipe, I typically bake it in a 9-inch cake pan for about 30 minutes at 350°F.

  4. #
    Ann — November 30, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Can I use dutch-processed cocoa powder?

    • #
      Danielle Rye — November 30, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      Hi, Ann. I suggest using natural unsweetened cocoa powder in this recipe.

  5. #
    Rebecca — November 30, 2016 at 6:34 am


    Can you convert to grams please?


    • #
      Danielle Rye — November 30, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      Hi Rebecca, I’ve updated the recipe and included some gram measurements.

  6. #
    Janine — November 30, 2016 at 8:34 am

    I’m a new fan. Enjoying every recipe. I’m going to make the cupcakes for New Years Eve!

    • #
      Danielle Rye — November 30, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      I’d love to hear how you like the cupcakes, Janine!

  7. #
    Stephanie — November 30, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Definitely going to make them. They look quite divine. Thanks so much

    • #
      Danielle Rye — November 30, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      Hope you enjoy the cupcakes, Stephanie!

  8. #
    najwa — January 20, 2017 at 1:36 am

    hi tessa may i know if i can substitute the heavy cream with whipping cream with 35% fat content

    • #
      Danielle Rye — January 22, 2017 at 10:32 am

      Heavy whipping cream will work fine for the frosting in this recipe!

  9. #
    Puneet — January 21, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    How long do you bake the medium sized cupcakes in the oven. Your recipe is for small sized cupcakes

    • #
      Danielle Rye — January 22, 2017 at 10:32 am

      The baking time in this recipe is for a regular cupcake baked in a standard muffin/cupcake pan, these are not small or mini.

  10. #
    Kim Nay — March 12, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    Hi Danielle, I live in Sweden and have to convert all cups to dl. I was wondering what measuring cup you use, is it a metric cup, a US cup or is it a UK cup? Thanks

    • #
      Danielle Rye — March 13, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Hi, Kim! The measuring cup I use is a US cup. Hope that helps!

  11. #
    Kim Nay — March 16, 2017 at 10:07 am

    It helps alot, Thank You so much.

  12. #
    Regina — January 10, 2019 at 4:02 am

    What can I use instead of espresso powder? Ie. No coffee!

  13. #
    Hiba — July 15, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    I loved the cupcake so much. It turned out as a muffin rather a cupcake texture. The only thing that I would change about it is the sugary frosting. I believe a soft cheese frosting with espresso flavour will be perfect. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe.

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