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Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake – Rich, dark chocolate cake layers with dulce de leche filling, chocolate caramel frosting and salted caramel drip.
Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake
A couple years ago, on Ryan’s 33rd birthday, I asked him what kind of cake he wanted to celebrate. His reply, “it’s just got to be your best cake yet.” Oh, ok. No pressure. Ha!
I immediately planning on using my chocolate cake recipe. It’s Ryan’s favorite! He also loves my salted caramel frosting but I wanted to do something new, so I incorporated the salted caramel into a chocolate frosting and the drip.
At that point, using Dulce de Leche as a filling was just an obvious addition. Thick, creamy caramel sauce? Yes, please! I used store bought dulce de leche, but you can certainly make your own too.
Chocolate Caramel Buttercream
A quick note about the frosting – you’ll add one cup of warm caramel sauce to the chocolate and stir until nice and smooth. At that point, let the mixture cool a bit before adding the butter, a little at a time. Once all the butter is added, your mixture will likely still be pretty thin. Go ahead and stick it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to cool down and set.
After it’s chilled, continue to beat the frosting for another five minutes or so, or until it lightens and takes on a spreadable consistency.
When you’re done frosting the cake with the chocolate caramel frosting, make sure to chill the cake for 15 to 20 minutes before doing the caramel drip.
Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake
Rich, dark chocolate cake layers with dulce de leche filling, chocolate caramel frosting and salted caramel drip.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
FOR THE CAKE
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (225 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (375 g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (88.5 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder (or similar premium brand)
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon (3 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) salt
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 cup (236.6 g) hot water or coffee
- 1/2 cup (109 g) vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoons (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract
FOR THE DULCE DE LECHE
- I used 3 bottles of Trader Joe's pre-made Dulce de Leche. You can use any brand you'd like or make your own.
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- 16 ounces dark chocolate
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter, slightly chilled
- 1 cup (8 oz) caramel sauce (recipe below)
FOR THE CARAMEL
- 1 1/2 cup (300 g) granulated sugar
- 10 tablespoons (147.87 g) water
- 6 teaspoons (42 g) light corn syrup
- 1 cup (231 g) heavy cream
- 3 teaspoons (12.6 g) vanilla
- 3 teaspoons (16.8 g) salt
- For the Chocolate Cake
- Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans by spraying the bottom and sides with nonstick spray, lining the bottom with parchment paper and spraying again. Set aside.
- In a bowl of electric mixer, combine and stir all dry ingredients. Set aside.
- In medium sized mixing bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, water or coffee, oil and vanilla and beat lightly with a fork.
- With the mixer on low speed, add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated (about 30 to 60 seconds). Batter will be thin. Scrape sides and mix for another 30 seconds. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans (I like to use a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed - about 15 to 16 ounces of batter in each 8-inch pan.
- Bake for 16-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. Cool on wire racks for 10-15 minutes, then gently invert onto racks until cooled completely.
- When cakes are completely cooled, divide each cake layer into two with a cake leveler so you have six layers total. Keep the two layers together (for each of the three cake layers you baked) and wrap with plastic wrap and freeze until you're ready to use. The cake will be easier to work with if it’s cooled a bit. Let thaw for about an hour before frosting.
- For the Chocolate Caramel Frosting
- Put the chocolate into a mixing bowl and pour the warm caramel sauce over the chocolate. Stir until the mixture is smooth and starts to cool down.
- After it cools down a bit, add the butter, little by little, beating until everything is smooth and well blended.
- The frosting is done when the texture is soft and silky. If you added the butter while the mixture was still warm, just place the bowl in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to set. Continue beating for another 5-7 minutes until it reaches a thicker, more spreadable consistency as seen in the picture above.
- If the buttercream is still too soft, place in the refrigerator again for a couple hours and then re-beat when you're ready to use.
- For the Caramel Sauce
- Mix sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan.
- Bring the water and sugar mixture to boil over medium heat, but DO NOT STIR. (Stirring encourages crystallization). Let the mixture cook until it caramelizes into a golden brown color. It happens quickly, so keep an eye on it.
- Remove the caramelized sugar syrup from the heat and slowly mix in the cream. Pour in just a tiny bit at a time, especially at the beginning, and mix to combine. You can start adding more and more as you go along.
- Mix in salt and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- NOTE: You'll use one cup of caramel sauce for the frosting and will need to reserve 1/2 cup for the drizzle. Make sure the caramel sauce for the drizzle is at room temperature before piping on the cake.
- Place the first cake layer on your cake plate and spread about 1/3 cup Dulce de Leche on top. Repeat for the remaining layers, placing the last layer, bottom-side up.
- Coat the cake in a thin layer of the chocolate caramel frosting to lock in the crumbs. Chill for 15 minutes.
- When the crumb coat is set, continue to frost the cake as you'd like with the chocolate caramel frosting. Chill again for 15-20 minutes.
- Using the remaining 1/2 caramel sauce, pour it into a piping bag with a small round tip or use a strong plastic bag and make a small cut in the corner. Pipe the caramel around the edge of the cake so it falls off like a waterfall.
- Serve right away or store in an air-tight container overnight in the fridge or several days in the freezer. Bring back to room temperature before serving.