Here we are at the third Is My Blog Burning? This time out - a cake walk - hosted by shiokadelicious.
Now I'm new to cooking, and certainly, I'm no expert on cakes. So I turned to a woman who's raised three children and run Girl Scout Troops for years and years - my mother-in-law, Rosalind McFall.
She of course, dug deep in her recipe box and gave me... someone else's recipe. I think she should be able to claim it as her own after 21 years, but she's pretty scrupulous about giving credit.
My original plan was to make this cake two different ways. The first is the original method, as copied down from the yellowing recipe card she'd written it on back in 1983.
This is the Turtle Cake recipe from "Ann Tharp - Xmas '83" as recorded and modifed by Rosalind McFall:
1 box German Chocolate Cake Mix - mix as directed
Melt 3/4 cup butter & 1/2 cup Eagle Brand Milk, add to cake mix
pour 1/2 of mix into a greased and floured 9x13 pan - Bake 20 min at 350 degrees.
While baking, melt 1 package caramels and remaining 1/2 Eagle milk in double boiler.
Cook cake - spread mix evenly over baked cake
spread rest of batter over caramels and bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Finish top with sifter powdered sugar. You may add 1/3 cup nuts to the top in desired.
Rosalind's comments - the nuts make the top of the cake look more interesting than just an unbroken sheet of white. A bag of caramels is about a pound - similar to the bags of caramels you see around Halloween. We couldn't find a one pound bag, so I bought two 9.5 oz. bags and snacked on the rest.
I tried this recipe, starting with a startling number of brand-name ingredients:
I have some ideas on how to personalize the recipe. I don't usually like recipes that rely on pre-processed goods like the box of cake mix, since you never know when they're going to change the recipe or how the final cake will be different if you can't find the exact brand of mix.
Also, when I think of "turtles", I think of those gooey pecan/caramel/chocolate clusters that Fannie May and Fannie Farmer used to sell before they thoughtlessly closed all their stores (editorial comment ends here).
I may give a from scratch version a whirl before the day is out, but I don't think I'm going to have time. I'll post the from scratch recipe and result later on. For now enjoy the original.
Sometimes people ask - why do you bother with trying from scratch recipes? Why do you bake? Why not just buy the finished goods at the store?
To those people I can only offer this explanation:
It's all about licking the mixing bowls clean, baby!
The cake as made was a big hit. I did something to it that was apparently unthinkable, but that yielded very nice results - once it's cooled completely, refrigerate the cake. The gooey caramel will firm up a bit and the sweetness will be cut just a bit by the cold. It's a delicious cake anyway you slice it.
One note - I find a number of recipes similar to the original on the Internet, some even mentioning the Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk. This is clearly a recipe that's been around for a while and that continues to be popular.