A rich, moist chocolate cake topped with caramel frosting, and drizzled with more salted caramel. This salted caramel chocolate cake has the best chocolate cake and the most dreamy caramel sauce!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Few dishes. Two bowls, one pot. Yes, even the caramel part! You don't need a candy thermometer for this caramel, however, you could also use my absolutely full-proof caramel from these Chocolate Caramel Marshmallow Bars. It's "unburnable" as I like to call it because it includes corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk.
Quick & Easy. One layer means super easy assembly. However, you can totally double this recipe to two chocolate cake layers and turn it into a
Versatile: It is truly the best chocolate cake, which is also used as a base for my Double Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes and Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. Soft, light, and packed full of chocolate flavor! You could also double the recipe and turn it into two layers for a layer cake. Add a salted caramel drip to the top!
Special occasion: This salted caramel cake would be a great birthday cake or to bring to a dinner party. It doesn't take much effort, yet
Most ingredients for the chocolate caramel cake are pantry staples, however, here a few specifics I want to mention:
- Cocoa powder. This recipe calls for dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder, which produces a deeper and richer chocolate cake flavor. I like to use Rodelle brand, but you can typically find this as Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa in standard grocery stores.
- Sugars. Granulated sugar for the cake and caramel, powdered sugar for the frosting.
- Dairy. Eggs, milk, and sour cream should all be at room temperature for the cake batter. Use full-fat options for best results. The heavy cream for the caramel and salted caramel frosting should be cold.
- Chocolate. Semi-sweet (60-70% cacao) and chopped. You could also use chocolate chips in a pinch.
- Hot coffee or hot water. I like to use coffee, but you can certainly use water. The coffee helps to add an additional layer of flavor that I feel comes through. This is used to bloom the cocoa powder and bring out the rich flavor.
- Flaky sea salt. I recommend thick, flaky sea salt for this recipe. Look for sea salt flakes or Maldon salt flakes in the spices section of the grocery store.
See recipe card for quantities.
- Turn these into dark chocolate salted caramel cupcakes by baking for 13-15 minutes in a 350℉/180℃ oven.
- Turn this into a layer cake by doubling the recipe and baking the cakes in two 8" cake pans.
- Use the caramel from my Chocolate Caramel Marshmallow Bars for no chance of burning!
How to Make This Recipe
Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃ and spray and line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.
One: Whisk together the wet ingredients in a large bowl
Two: Sift in the dry ingredients, then fold it together with a rubber spatula.
Three: Pour in the melted chocolate and coffee mixture and fold with a rubber spatula to carefully combine.
Four: The batter will be thin and runny. Add it to the prepared baking pan, then bake until done and the sides of the cake pull away from the edges slightly. Cool on a wire rack.
Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
Add the butter and sugar to a medium saucepan over medium heat. During the process, focus on texture, color and smell. It will start as white, begin melting, then turn a light yellow and by the time the sugar is totally melted it will be a nice amber.
If the sugar is gaining color too quickly but it’s still clumpy, remove it from the heat and swirl for a bit to help melt. See smoke wisps at all? Remove it from the heat. If it smells bitter and acrid in any way, you’ve burnt the sugar and will have to start again.
If the sugar is totally melted but it’s too blonde in color, turn the heat up slightly until it develops an amber color. Remember it will lighten back up as you add the butter and cream. Watch this video so you can ace this caramel sauce!
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
Five: In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed.
Then add the heavy cream and whip until fluffy and stiff peaks form, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and drizzle in the caramel.
Six: Mix until the caramel is completely incorporated, then transfer the cake to a serving plate.
Add a thick layer and frost that beautiful cake then drizzle extra caramel to the top of the cake and add on flaky sea salt.
Hot tip! Be sure the caramel is quite cool before adding it to the caramel icing, otherwise, it can melt and break it.
- Strain the caramel through a fine-mesh sieve if there are still any chunks of sugar remaining.
- Stir the caramel periodically to release heat and cool more quickly. Be sure it's quite cool before adding it to the buttercream so it doesn't melt or curdle.
- Swoop the frosting onto the top, leaving indents to hold the caramel sauce. An offset spatula does this job best.
Yes, definitely. Just be sure to create a frosting dam around the edges of the cake so the caramel doesn't burst out of the sides!
Sure - it stores super well because the cake stays so moist! Just cover the cake with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. Allow the cake to come to room temperature again before eating.
Can I make this in a round pan?
Absolutely. You can use either a round 8" or 9" cake pan. Note that an 8" round pan will need a slightly longer bake time.
Store the cake in the fridge, lightly covered, for 5 days. Bring the cake (or slices) to room temperature before enjoying.
If necessary, you can freeze the baked cake by wrapping tightly in both plastic wrap and foil. It can be stored for one month and thawed, uncovered, at room temperature before frosting.
The caramel can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. Reheat in 20-second increments in the microwave, sitting in between each, until a drizzling consistency returns.
More Easy Cake Recipes
Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake
- 8x8 inch pan
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer
- Parchment paper
- Large mixing bowl
- Medium saucepan
- 1 cup all-purpose flour 120g
- 1 cup granulated sugar 200g
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder dutch processed (30g)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup full-fat sour cream room temperature (60g)
- ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil 60ml
- ¼ cup whole milk room temperature (60ml)
- 1 large egg + 1 yolk room temperature
- ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips chopped (50g)
- ½ cup hot coffee or water 4 fl oz
- ½ cup granulated sugar 100g
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature (42g)
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream 60ml
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- ½ teaspoon flaky 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 60ml
- Flaky Sea Salt for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃ and grease and parchment line an 8x8” baking pan with overhangs.
- 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 whisk to combine.
- In a small bowl, add the hot coffee or water and chocolate 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 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 pan and bake for 25 -30 minutes until the edges have started to pull away from the sides and the center is no longer sloshy. A toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean.
- Make the caramel while the cake bakes.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then transfer the cake (using the parchment overhangs) out of the pan to the rack to finish cooling.
- Add the sugar to a medium saucepan over medium heat and spread evenly. Stir the sugar every 15-30 seconds. It will start to get wet, will then clump up and crystallize as it melts, then fully melt, turning to a deep amber color.
- Add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to melt and incorporate 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, pour in the vanilla, and stir. Carefully pour the caramel into a heat proof bowl or jar to cool and thicken slightly.
Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- Cream the butter for about 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- With the mixer running on low, spoon in half of the powdered sugar until combined, then beat on medium for about 30 seconds.
- Reduce the speed to low, and add the remaining powdered sugar until mostly combined. Drizzle in a tablespoon of heavy cream at a time and increase the speed to medium until a light, fluffy frosting has developed.
- Drizzle in ¼ cup of caramel and mix 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.