Small Batch Turtle Cupcakes

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Total Time: 36 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 295kcal
Sometimes you don't need 24 cupcakes.  Sometimes 6 is plenty... These deeply chocolatey cupcakes with a sweet caramel frosting is garnished with toasted pecans, chocolate chips and a bit of caramel drizzle.
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For The Cake:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar not tightly packed -- just loosely scooped into the 1/2 cup measure.
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon egg beaters or (one tablespoon of a whisked egg)
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk use 1/4 cup milk + 1 teaspoon cider vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup hot coffee

For Caramel Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream (do not substitute half and half or milk)
  • 1 cup standard buttercream or cream cheese frosting

For Garnish:

  • 1 tablespoon miniature chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon pecans toasted and chopped
  • 6 teaspoons caramel sauce (recipe given above.


For The Cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray with vegetable spray.  Set aside.
  • In a small bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda and whisk until well combined.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the egg, vegetable oil and buttermilk and add it to the dry ingredients.  Stir together until just combined and then whisk in the hot coffee. Batter will be thin.
  • Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake for 16-17 minutes or until the center of the cupcakes springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.

For the Caramel Frosting:

  • While the cupcakes bake, in a small saucepan add the sugar and shake the pan around until the sugar is in an even layer at the bottom of the pan.  Place the pan over medium high heat and let the sugar start to melt without stirring, about 2-3 minutes.  When sugar begins to melt, gently stir any granules that haven't melted into the the melted part.  Sugar will go from a clear to golden color over the course of a few minutes, but goes from golden to dark very quickly.  Take it just to the edge of burnt without going over -- should be a dark amber color. 
  • When the caramel reaches the dark amber color and there are no granules of sugar left, pour in the cream and remove from heat.  The caramel will splutter and hiss -- that's normal.  Let it continue to bubble without stirring until it starts to calm down, then stir to combine.  Set aside and let the caramel sauce to cool. (Do not add hot caramel to the frosting)
  • When caramel sauce has cooled, stir 2-3 tablespoons of caramel into the frosting until well combined. Frost the cupcakes with the frosting, or fit a pastry bag with your favorite icing tip and pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.
  • Sprinkle the cupcakes with chopped pecans, mini chocolate chips and a drizzle of remaining caramel.  


Note, you'll have a little leftover caramel sauce, store it in a glass container in the refrigerator.  It's great over ice cream or drizzled over apples -- just microwave for a few seconds to heat it up.


Calories: 295kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 307mg | Potassium: 91mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 235IU | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg