Cafe Latte Turtle Cake for Two Recipe - Pinch of Yum
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Cafe Latte Turtle Cake for Two

11 reviews / 4.6 average

Intensely rich chocolate cake with waterfalls of caramel and pecan jewels inspired by the delicious turtle cake from Cafe Latte. The perfect dessert for two! Or six! Or one!

We are kicking off the February Fun Series with the most fun thing around. An extra rich, coffee-spiked, chocolatey, caramelly little copycat turtle cake that absolutely has our hearts and will have yours, too.

Okay, if you are a resident Twin Citizen and you’ve wandered down bustling Grand Avenue in St. Paul and found yourself drawn in by those bright swoopy pinky-red neon letters that say “Cafe Latte,” then you surely have met and fallen deeply, madly, wholly in love with their turtle cake. It is a thing of glory. 

That is the story here. An intensely rich chocolatey cake, cascading with caramel, and jeweled with huge pecans. Layers on layers, possibly too many layers, and also never enough layers. This cake means business. This cake means “I love you.” This is the stuff date nights are made of.

SO OBVIOUSLY IT HAD TO BE FIGURED OUT HOW TO BE MADE AT HOME. Because, even though it is worth a trip to St. Paul literally always, a trip into St. Paul cannot always be had. (Unless you maybe live right off of Grand Ave. in which case, would you like a bunch of new roommates? We also come with children and pets.)  

So here we are, a (maybe not so) tiny turtle cake for two. Or six. Or one. Let your heart decide.

Candied pecans on top of turtle cake

Ingredients For This Turtle Cake

To make this fun little cake (or pair of cakes) happen, you’ll need to gather your baking staples and your Bake-Off fortitude. JK, you’ll just need your love of chocolate and excitement for cake, we don’t need any Hollywood Handshakes around here – although, you will deserve one, promise.

  • baking essentials (egg, flour, sugar, oil, baking soda, salt)
  • sour cream or plain full-fat Greek yogurt
  • cocoa powder
  • some strong hot coffee (makes it extra rich and yummy)

For the frosting and toppings we used store-bought caramel to save time and used candied pecans because we’re a little extra (plain toasted ones are also great).

  • milk
  • sugar
  • butter
  • chocolate chips
  • caramel
  • pecans
Cafe Latte turtle cake with a slice taken out of it and a fork next to the cake

How To Make Turtle Cakes For Two

It is somehow always more fun to make a tiny version of something, right? Because, “Look at that cute little caaaaake!” And luckily, making it miniature isn’t really any more work than making a big one happen, so here we go!

  1. Batter up. Whisk all the turtle cake ingredients together. Grease three lil’ ramekins & divide batter between ’em!
  2. On your mark, get set, bake! 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove the cakes gently from the ramekins and allow to cool.
  3. Okay, frosting time. Bring the milk, sugar, and butter to a boil and then melt in chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Allow to cool a bit for ease of frosting.
  4. Start layering! Arrange by layering cake, frosting, pecans, caramel, and then keep stacking until you have a totally wonderful, over-the-top cake.

Hot tip, hot tip — it’s great to chop the pecans for the middle layers so the cake stacks nicely and the texture is very pleasing. But then we leave them whole on top for optimal beautiful fanciness.

Perfect For Date Night

This little turtle cake is really so special. It feels fun and celebratory and like the perfect thing to make a date night at home feel just a little bit extra. As an added bonus, we actually love this even more once it’s had a chance to sit in the fridge for a bit so you can totally make it ahead of time and have it already waiting for you. Maybe you can figure out how to have your dog bring it out to you at the end of the meal or, like…secure it to your robot vacuum or something? We’re thinking outside the box here, but we really want your date night-in to be special, you know?

It is just the perfect dessert for a certain upcoming February holiday if that’s your thing or, you know, just some regular old Wednesday. Really it’s perfect anytime always forever and ever amen.

Turtle cake with a wedge taken out of it

Cafe Latte Turle Cake For Two: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have any recommendations for arranging the pecans?

Chop the pecans that go in the middle layers (easier to eat) and then use the whole pecans on top (pretty to look at).

Any tips on frosting the cake?

When you’re frosting the cake, you’ll want to spread the frosting just to the edge and a little past it so that it doesn’t completely drip down but just kind of waterfalls over the edge. It works well to just let it naturally drip down the cake vs. actually spreading it over the sides.

What size of ramekin do you suggest for making this?

8-ounce ramekins (affiliate link) are perfect here. The ones in our kitchen are 4 inches wide and about 2 inches tall.

What kind of pecans should I use?

Regular toasted pecans work, but why not take it over the top with candied pecans?! You will not regret it.

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Turtle cake on a plate

Cafe Latte Turtle Cake for Two

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 24 large servings 1x


Intensely rich chocolate cake with waterfalls of caramel and pecan jewels inspired by the delicious turtle cake from Cafe Latte. The perfect dessert for two! Or six! Or one! 


Units Scale

Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 23 tablespoons strong hot coffee (this will loosen the batter up and adds great flavor)

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coffee


  • Caramel
  • Toasted or candied pecan pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk all the cake ingredients into a batter, using the coffee to thin it out (it’s a pretty thick batter, even with the coffee). Generously grease four 8-ounce ramekins with cooking spray. Divide batter between the ramekins and spread into the dishes so it covers the bottom.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the cakes gently from the ramekins and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before adding frosting.
  4. In a small saucepan, bring the milk, sugar, and butter to a boil. After 15-20 seconds of boiling, remove from heat and melt in chocolate chips. Whisk until smooth. Add coffee to thin slightly, whisking to get it smooth and shiny. Allow to cool for a few minutes so the frosting isn’t quite so runny (it’ll still be runny, you just don’t want it to be super hot when you spread it on the cakes).
  5. With this recipe, you can either make one 3-layer cake or two 2-layer cakes. Layer cake, frosting, pecans, caramel, and repeat until you have your nice decadent, over-the-top cake. I just spoon a bit of frosting into the center of each cake and gradually work it out to the edge to get a waterfall effect. I chop up the pecans that go in the middle layer for a more textured crunchy bite, and then use the whole pecans in a circular pattern on top.
  6. Eat the cake while warm (yum) or store in the fridge for a day or two (also very yum)! SO GOOD. Thank you Cafe Latte!


The variations shown in the photos can help you figure out how you want your cake to be! The first image in the post shows a two-layer cake with a runnier frosting (it waterfalls a bit over the edges) whereas the last photos show a three-layer cake with a slightly thicker frosting that doesn’t run down the sides as much. Play with it and make it just how you want it! 

I find that cooking spray is really the best thing to use to get the cakes out of the ramekins easily. I’ve struggled with other methods but the cooking spray has never failed me!

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: turtle cake, turtle cake for two, cafe latte turtle cake

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  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Oh so naughty but soooooo nice. What’s not to love about a gooey chocolate cake. Mmmm :)))

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Or decaf could work if you’re just avoiding caffeine! It won’t taste strong like coffee. It just makes the chocolate more rich.

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Would this work in any other loaf pan/muffin tin? I don’t own any ramekins but would loooove to make this next week! Thanks as always for your gorgeous photos and accessible recipes.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Krista @ Pinch of Yum

        Hi Joanne! You could try using a muffin tin to bake tiny little cake layers. Or, you could make cupcakes, and then just “frost” the tops with all the toppings!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Hi Alexandria! You could try using a muffin tin to bake tiny little cake layers. Or, you could make cupcakes, and then just “frost” the tops with all the toppings!

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Rhowena Austin

    Do you have a grain free substitute that would work as well as flour? What about a substitute for the sugar? Would they be equal substitutions?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Hi Rhowena! We’ve only tested this recipe using the ingredients listed, so it’s hard to say if those substitutes would work. If we do any further testing on this, I’ll be sure to update this comment!

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Terri Johnson

    Yum! Do their lemon torte cake next! I can never get enough of that one. Or maybe the raspberry torte? Or…

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Awww, this post just brought back all SORTS of fond memories. I used to live on Grand Avenue only a few blocks away from Cafe Latte, and spent many a wonderful evening there with friends, indulging in the wine bar and their desserts. Special place it is, that Cafe Latte! Looking forward to giving this recipe a whirl. 🙂

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing, Kristine! We hope you love the this recipe!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I love Cafe Latte! I can’t bypass their cheesecake for cake so I have to admit I’ve never had it! But I will sometime or maybe bake it now that I can! Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    As a time saver, could I make the cake one day & the frosting the day I would serve?

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Native Minnesotan here! This looks absolutely delicious 🙂 I haven’t been to Cafe Latte in awhile but I may just have to make this cake this month. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Do you think this could be made into a full sized cake? My grandma is turning 88, and she wants chocolate cake for her birthday. I think she would absolutely love this cake but I need enough to feed 10 people!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Hi Marissa! It probably could, but since we haven’t tested it this way, it’s really hard to give solid instructions on amounts and cook time. Here are some full sized cake recipes you could check out: here, here, and here.

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Rebecca M

    Do you use milk chocolate chips or semi sweet? Really want to make this soon!!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Rebecca M

        This recipe is delicious! I have never had the original from the restaurant but considering the “cafe latte” name I would say that this recipe does not have a coffee flavor at all, even with it in the batter and chocolate sauce. I might try with espresso next time to get more of the flavor.

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Krista @ Pinch of Yum

          Thanks for the comment, Rebecca! The Cafe Latte in the recipe title is there to reference the name of the restaurant. The coffee is added to intensify the chocolate flavor, but feel free to add espresso next time if you like that flavor and want more of it in your cake!

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made these as cupcakes as I don’t have ramekins and they came out so good! I just mixed the pecans in with the frosting and then topped them with the caramel and more pecans. So good, thank you for the recipe!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Awesome! Glad to hear they work as cupcakes too! Thanks for the comment, Lesley!

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made this tonight and it was fabulous. I made them a couple hours in advance, and I wish I would have covered them because they did dry out slightly, but we still thoroughly enjoyed them. I’m from MN, but haven’t been to Cafe Latte in years! I will definitely have to go soon.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      So glad you enjoyed the cake, Emily! And thank you for the tip about covering the cake so it doesn’t dry out.

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    AMAZING!! I made this as a Valentine’s Day treat and it was perfect. Simple to make and taste delicious.

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made these egg-free using 1Tbs of Just Egg in place of the egg yolk. It seemed to work great! They did take a few minutes longer to bake… not sure if that was my sub or if my ramekins were smaller. Either way, I waited until a toothpick came out clean and they were perfect! I imagine you could go vegan using a vegan sour cream, but I didn’t try that this time.

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Ugh we miss living in the twin cities so much! I will have to make this for my partner- he looooves cafe latte!

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Cafe Latte! What a blast from the past! My Northwestern College friends and I absolutely loved visiting that place. I can’t wait to try their specialty at home. Thank you.