Monday, February 7, 2011

RHC: Mud Turtle Cupcakes

Mud Turtle Cupcakes
Well, they taste good, and *some* of them are pretty. Others...not so much.

Cake-of-the-week for the Heavenly Cake Bakers was from the "baby cakes" chapter: Mud Turtle Cupcakes. The base is a chocolate cupcake made with cocoa powder and sour cream, which is topped with ganache, caramel, pecans (to be the turtle's legs and head), more caramel, and more ganache. Plenty of goo, in other words.

Given my continuing issue with RHC cakes as too dry for my tastes, I was careful to not overbake and took the main pan out while I still got a few crumbs on my test toothpick. Alas, several tasters still found the cake too crumbly. Mud Turtle CupcakesWorse, several cupcakes baked with a outer crust around the top rim and when the cupcake then pulled away from the sides of the liner, this crust then fell into the gap between cupcake and liner. Four cupcakes were too high in the oven (the overflow cupcake pan wouldn't fit on the rack with my big pan) and the tops probably browned too fast, but several cupcakes in the main pan did this too. That was the ugly part. But you know, by the time everything was covered in ganache, caramel, and pecans, it was hard to tell which ones had the crusted edges and which didn't.

I made the caramel twice as I let my attention waver *just* at the wrong time and cooked the sugar to too high a temperature. I was afraid that batch would set up as too chewy (or worse, as hard candy) and so made another batch. As it turned out, my teaspoons of caramel must have been a little generous and I ended up using some of the 'bad' batch when I ran out of the good. Maybe it was a little firmer than the other, but not enough to matter.

Mud Turtle CupcakesIs it just a "mud cupcake" without the pecans to make a turtle? This one is for a co-worker who doesn't appreciate nuts.

Taste results: Unanimous positives on the toppings, and close to unanimous "too crumbly" on the cake. I was careful to eat my topping with the cake, and liked the combination. Others attacked the topping first (and it was rather difficult to do otherwise, especially as we were gathered around the TV for the Super Bowl and didn't have plates), then got down to cake and variously found it uninteresting, too crumbly, a little dry, or just not up to the level of the topping. At the office today the same sort of comments came out: lovely gooey topping, cake is too crumbly, and the combination is hard to eat. I think I'll remember this topping idea for some future kid's party or bake sale, but will hunt for a less delicate and moister chocolate cupcake to go under it.


  1. You are brilliant. Just leave out the nuts and still enjoy the caramel and ganache topping. I skipped these because of the pecans. Considered doing almonds but wasn't sure that would work. As for the crumbly cake, I would recommend an oil-based choc cake. I have a couple on my "standby list" that I could email you. One is a cupcake recipe, the other a Bundt cake recipe that I think would work OK as cupcakes. On my to-try list is Rose's German Choc Cake which is also oil-based and from what I hear, very moist. (sorry for the long comment) :o)

  2. The German Chocolate Cake in RHC is good, and you're right that it might make a good base for this topping. I might also try the chocolate cake from here: which I've made several times (with peanut butter and with almond butter). It's pretty delicate, but extremely moist. (That whole cake is lovely, incidentally--I made it as my own birthday cake a couple of years ago.) And it is an oil cake!

  3. Here's the cupcake recipe I like to use:
    Andrea, one of our fellow HCB bakers, has posted them twice on her blog (with different frostings). My new favorite choc Bundt cake recipe can be found here:
    It has a very moist crumb. Very tender. If you don't like coffee, just use water. I made a couple changes to that recipe like subbing sour cream for the buttermilk and using half gran sugar and half brown sugar. Let me know how you like either recipe, if you try it.

  4. I just checked Smitten Kitchen's recipe and that looks really good too. What strikes me as a good cake is: sour cream, vinegar, oil and only two eggs. Will have to remember that one. I just realized I have a really old standby choc cake recipe that I still use often. That one is also oil-based but a bit more cumbersome because you have to beat the egg whites separately and fold them into the final choc batter.

  5. Btw, how did you measure the flour for the Smitten Kitchen recipe? Did you weigh it? Thanks!

  6. No, I rarely convert from volume to weight if the recipe doesn't give it, though I'll always weigh if that's an option. I stirred my flour, spooned it into my measure, then leveled off.

  7. Thanks Nancy. That helps a lot. That method yields ~4.25 oz/cup.