This Chocolate + Salted Caramel Snack Cake is a soft, moist chocolate cake topped with a whipped caramel buttercream. Drizzle with extra caramel and a sprinkle of flaky salt for a rich and dreamy dessert.
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Making chocolate cake from scratch
Making cake may seem like a chore, but I’m telling you that this cake is SO easy and quick to throw together. All you need is a few mixing bowls and a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, 15 minutes to prep, and 30 minutes to bake. BAM! Chocolate cake donezo.
Start by sifting together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. If you don’t have a fine mesh strainer or something to sift, you can mix it together with a whisk. In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: sour cream, vegetable oil, milk, eggs and vanilla. In the last bowl, add the chocolate, then pour over hot coffee or water. Coffee is known to help bring out the flavor in chocolate. You can certainly use water in place of this.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a spoon. Once combined, add the coffee and chocolate mixture and mix until it comes together. Take care not to over mix or your cake could turn tough!
Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes. I like to prepare my pan with two strips of apartment paper that hang a bit over the sides so it’s easy to remove. You’ll know it’s done when the sides have started to pull away from the pan and the center no longer jiggles.
If there is one pan I can recommend that you have in your arsenal, it’s an 8×8 inch USA Pan. It’s easily my most used pan and I love that it is straight-sided and makes everything look so clean!
What makes the chocolate + salted caramel snack cake moist?
A few things! Mostly sugar, which absorbs liquid and holds moisture. But also, the fat from the sour cream, milk, oil, and eggs. Because I wanted the cake to be extra moist, I chose to add an extra egg yolk, as well!
Easy caramel sauce
I’m telling you this is actually the easiest caramel sauce! You don’t need a thermometer, and as long as you keep an eye on the heat, you’ll ace this one. Drizzle this on top of the Chocolate + Salted Caramel Snack Cake and you’ll be in total heaven!
Follow my tips below if you’re feeling uneasy. I recently had someone message me and tell me that her husband made my Caramel Brownie Pretzel Pie and he now brags to people that he made homemade caramel 😉
- Use medium or medium-low heat. This will be different on every stove. When I used to cook on an electric stove, I used medium low heat. On my gas stove, I have to use medium heat.
- Stir every 30 seconds or so until the sugar has melted and turns amber in color. It will start to get wet, will clump up and crystallize, then will begin to melt and change to an amber color.
- If at any point the caramel becomes dark brown in color and smells acrid, you’ve burnt your caramel. Pitch it and start again (and try a lower heat).
- Before adding the butter and cream, the sugar will look rather dark (see picture 5) but will lighten back up once added.
- Keep a bowl of ice water nearby just in case you accidentally burn yourself. An oven mitt is also recommended if hot steam could bother your hands while stirring.
Making the caramel buttercream frosting for the Chocolate + Salted Caramel Snack Cake
This is a standard American buttercream, whipped a bit extra, with some of the caramel sauce added in. Start by creaming the butter, then add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. It will look like a paste at this point. Slowly drizzle in the heavy whipping cream while the mixer is on medium speed and it will become light and fluffy. Finally, add in the 1/4 cup of caramel and mix until combined.
If the mixture feels too loose, add more powdered sugar a spoonful at a time. If it feels too stiff, drizzle in a bit more heavy cream until it becomes a soft, spreadable consistency.
I love how quick this Chocolate + Salted Caramel Snack Cake comes together, even with making the caramel sauce. In case you need more convincing, this stays totally moist and soft for three full days at room temperature. It can last up to 5 days in the fridge, just let it come to room temperature before you eat it!!
Looking for more chocolate recipes?
Chocolate + Salted Caramel Snack Cake
- 8×8 inch pan
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer
- Parchment paper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (120g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder natural or dutch processed (35g)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup full fat sour cream room temperature (60g)
- ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil (50g)
- ¼ cup whole milk room temperature (65g)
- 1 egg + 1 yolk room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (50g)
- ½ cup hot coffee or water (100g)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
- 3 T unsalted butter room temperature (42g)
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream (60g)
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature (113g)
- 3 cups powdered sugar (360g)
- ¼ cup caramel (80g)
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream (60g)
- Flaky Sea Salt for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease and parchment line an 8×8” baking pan so the parchment hangs slightly over the sides. This will help remove the cake from the pan to cool.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, vegetable oil, whole milk, eggs, and vanilla and whisk to combine.
- In a small bowl, add the hot coffee or water and chocolate chips and allow to stand for about a minute, then mix to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the sour cream mixture and mix to combine using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. It will be a bit thick at this point.
- Stir together the coffee and chocolate, then add to the batter and carefully mix to fully combine. Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 -30 minutes until the edges have started to pull away from the sides and the center is no longer jiggly. A toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then transfer the cake (using the parchment slings) out of the pan to the rack to finish cooling. Make the caramel while the cake cools.
- Add the sugar to a medium saucepan over medium heat and continue stirring until melted and turning amber. It will start to get wet, will then clump up and crystallize, then will begin to melt and change color.
- Add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to combine before adding the next tablespoon. Next, add the heavy cream and salt and continue mixing. The caramel will bubble up at this point, but don’t be alarmed. Once combined, turn off the heat and carefully pour into a heat proof bowl or jar to cool and thicken slightly.
Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- Cream the butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Reduce to low, and add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, allowing to combine and increasing to medium speed in between each addition for about 15 seconds. Once all powdered sugar has been added, drizzle in the heavy cream on medium speed. Switch the mixer to medium low and drizzle in ¼ cup of caramel until combined.
- Spread the buttercream over the cooled cake, making swoops that will hold the remaining caramel sauce. Drizzle the rest of the caramel over top of the buttercream, then sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt. Slice and serve.