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Turtle Poke Cake

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close up overhead shot of Turtle Poke Cake drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce then sprinkled with pecans in a baking dish
This fabulous turtle poke cake is just packed with chocolate, gooey caramel and pecans, just like the candy of the same name.
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Table of Contents
  1. TURTLE POKE CAKE INGREDIENTS
  2. HOW TO MAKE THIS TURTLE POKE CAKE RECIPE
  3. HOW TO SERVE
  4. STORAGE
  5. MORE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This turtle poke cake is a scrumptious twist on the traditional chocolate turtle candy, complete with a gooey caramel filling. A moist cake is topped with decadent chocolate icing and crunchy pecans for a sinfully delicious sweet treat.

Poke cakes are the best cakes because the filling makes them so incredibly moist. Check out our chocolate poke cake and lemon poke cake for two more easy cake recipes that you will enjoy.

close up shot of a slice of Turtle Poke Cake drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce then sprinkled with pecans on a plate

TURTLE POKE CAKE INGREDIENTS

Turtle Poke Cake raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup water, room temperature
  • ½ cup canola oil

PRO TIP:

The eggs, water and canola oil may vary depending on the brand of cake mix you are using.

  • 1 (14-ounce) jar caramel sauce (ice cream topping)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (16-ounce) tub chocolate fudge frosting
  • 1 (8-ounce) tub of Cool Whip whipped topping, thawed
  • ¼ cup pecans, chopped
  • Garnish: Good quality chocolate sauce and caramel sauce in a squeeze container (I used Ghirardelli premium sauces)

PRO TIP:

You will note that there are 2 different forms of caramel in this chocolate turtle poke cake recipe. For the 14-ounce jar, any brand you would use for an ice cream sauce will work great. You want it to be pourable for this recipe. I highly recommend using a thicker caramel sauce to drizzle onto the top for garnish, along with a good quality chocolate sauce. The ones in the squeeze containers work great for this recipe and can be stored in your refrigerator to use for other applications. They make great coffee or hot cocoa toppers. 

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

CAKE MIX: We used a yellow box cake mix for this chocolate turtle cake; however, you can use a boxed chocolate cake mix to make this a very indulgent dessert.

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HOW TO MAKE THIS TURTLE POKE CAKE RECIPE

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 glass baking dish with baker’s spray.

STEP TWO: In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, mix the yellow cake mix, eggs, water and canola oil for 2 minutes. Note: This is the package directions on the box, they may vary depending on the brand.

Turtle Poke Cake process shot of yellow cake mix ingredients being whisked together in a bowl

STEP THREE: Pour the yellow cake batter into the prepared baking dish and bake cake for 35 minutes.

Turtle Poke Cake process shot of yellow cake mix batter placed into a baking dish

STEP FOUR: While the cake is baking, you will combine, in a small bowl with a pour spout, the 14-ounce jar of caramel sauce and sweetened condensed milk. Stir until completely combined.

PRO TIP:

It’s best to make the holes in the cake while it is still slightly warm because as it cools, the crust on top of the cake will crumble more easily.

Turtle Poke Cake process shot of caramel sauce and sweetened condensed milk stirred together in a bowl

STEP FIVE: When the cake comes out of the oven, you will use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the hot cake. Slowly pour caramel and sweetened condensed milk mixture evenly over the top of the warm cake. Make sure to get the caramel sauce into all the holes. Let the cake cool on the counter for at least 1 hour to allow the caramel sauce to be absorbed into the cake.

PRO TIP:

When you’re pouring the cream into the holes of the cake, tap the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles and make sure the pudding fills the holes completely.

Turtle Poke Cake process shot of holes poke on the top of the cake and caramel sauce poured on top

STEP SIX: While your cake is cooling on the counter you will make your frosting by adding the chocolate fudge frosting to a large bowl and whipping it on medium speed for 1 minute or until light and fluffy.

Turtle Poke Cake process shot of chocolate fudge frosting being whipped in a bowl

STEP SEVEN: Fold the thawed Cool Whip whipped topping into the fluffy chocolate fudge frosting. Make sure there are no streaks of whipped topping in your frosting. You can store your chocolate fudge whipped topping in the refrigerator until your cake has cooled completely on the counter.

PRO TIP:

We used the Cool Whip whipped topping to lighten up the chocolate fudge frosting for this recipe but if you prefer a richer chocolate frosting, you can omit the whipped topping and use two containers of the chocolate fudge frosting to frost cake. Alternatively, you can use the milk chocolate version if that is your preference.

STEP EIGHT: Once cooled, spread the chocolate fudge whipped frosting evenly over the top of the caramel cake.

Turtle Poke Cake process shot of chocolate fudge frosting spread over the top of the cake

STEP NINE: Garnish the top of the turtle chocolate poke cake with a drizzle pattern of the caramel sauce, chocolate sauce and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours but up to overnight.

PRO TIP:

This turtle cake recipe is best when it has had plenty of time to allow the cake to absorb the wonderful caramel sauce to make it a very moist cake.

Turtle Poke Cake process shot of the cake drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce then sprinkled with pecans

HOW TO SERVE

If you are a fan of chocolate turtles, this chocolate caramel poke cake is the right dessert for you! Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side for an extra indulgent treat. If you would like a rich drink to serve on the side, check out our whipped hot chocolate.

STORAGE

IN THE FRIDGE: You can store this chocolate turtle cake in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days.

IN THE FREEZER: This easy recipe freezes well and will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap before freezing.

close up shot of Turtle Poke Cake drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce then sprinkled with pecans in a baking dish

I love how the caramel and chocolate shine through in this turtle dessert, and it looks like a turtle when you cut into it! Caramel and chocolate lovers will surely ask for seconds of this decadent treat.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a poke cake?

Poke cake recipes create an easy cake that you poke small holes into while it’s still hot after baking. The holes are then filled with a liquid or filling — like condensed milk, pureed fruit, chocolate cream, or pudding. It makes a moist and delicious cake.

What do you use to poke holes in poke cake?

The end of a wooden spoon or a wooden skewer is the best size to poke holes in the cake.

Can I freeze this caramel turtle poke cake?

This easy poke cake recipe freezes well and will last in the freezer for up to three months.

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close up overhead shot of Turtle Poke Cake drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce then sprinkled with pecans in a baking dish

Turtle Poke Cake

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This fabulous turtle poke cake is just packed with chocolate, gooey caramel and pecans, just like the candy of the same name.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

  • 15.25 ounces yellow cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup water room-temperature
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 14 ounces caramel sauce ice cream topping
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 16 ounces chocolate fudge frosting
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip whipped topping thawed
  • ¼ cup pecans chopped
  • good quality chocolate sauce and caramel sauce in a squeeze container for garnish (I used Ghirardelli premium sauces)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 glass baking dish with baker’s spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, mix the yellow cake mix, eggs, water and canola oil for 2 minutes. This is based on the directions on the back of the box.
  • Pour the yellow cake batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 35 minutes.
  • While the cake is baking you will combine, in a small bowl with a pour spout, the 14-ounce jar of caramel sauce and sweetened condensed milk. Stir until completely combined.
  • When the cake comes out of the oven you will use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the hot cake. Slowly pour the caramel and sweetened condensed milk mixture evenly over the top of the warm cake. Make sure to get the caramel sauce into all the holes. Allow the cake to cool on the counter for at least 1 hour to allow the caramel sauce to be absorbed into the cake.
  • While your cake is cooling on the counter you will make your frosting by adding the chocolate fudge frosting to a large bowl and whipping it on medium speed for 1 minute or until light and fluffy.
  • Fold the thawed Cool Whip whipped topping into the fluffy chocolate fudge frosting. Make sure there are no streaks of whipped topping in your frosting. You can store your chocolate fudge whipped topping in the refrigerator until your cake has cooled completely on the counter.
  • Once cooled, spread the chocolate fudge whipping frosting evenly over the top of the caramel cake.
  • Garnish the top of the turtle poke cake with a drizzle pattern of the caramel sauce, chocolate sauce and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours but up to overnight.

Notes

PRO TIP: The eggs, water and canola oil in the ingredients may vary depending on the brand of cake mix you are using.
 
PRO TIP: You will note that there are 2 different forms of caramel in this chocolate turtle poke cake recipe. For the 14-ounce jar, any brand you would use for an ice cream sauce will work great. You want it to be pourable for this recipe. I highly recommend using a thicker caramel sauce to drizzle onto the top for garnish, along with a good quality chocolate sauce. The ones in the squeeze containers work great for this recipe and can be stored in your refrigerator to use for other applications. They make great coffee or hot cocoa toppers. 
 
PRO TIP: It’s best to make the holes in the cake while it is still slightly warm because as it cools, the crust on top of the cake will crumble more easily.
 
PRO TIP: When you’re pouring the cream into the holes of the cake, tap the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles and make sure the pudding fills the holes completely.
 
PRO TIP: We used the Cool Whip whipped topping to lighten up the chocolate fudge frosting for this recipe but if you prefer a richer chocolate frosting, you can omit the whipped topping and use two containers of the chocolate fudge frosting to frost cake. Alternatively, you can use the milk chocolate version if that is your preference.
 
PRO TIP: This turtle cake recipe is best when it has had plenty of time to allow the cake to absorb the wonderful caramel sauce to make it a very moist cake.

Nutrition

Sodium: 521mg | Calcium: 220mg | Vitamin C: 1mg | Vitamin A: 220IU | Sugar: 59g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 288mg | Cholesterol: 61mg | Calories: 615kcal | Trans Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Fat: 24g | Protein: 7g | Carbohydrates: 98g | Iron: 2mg
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