Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake


Apr 10

Dark chocolate cake layers with homemade salted caramel frosting and a salted caramel drip.

My dark chocolate salted caramel cake was one of the first cakes I ever made, but it’s always been listed on my site as two separate recipes: chocolate cake and salted caramel frosting. Just feels like it’s time to give the full cake it’s own place on here, don’t you think?

A Classic Hit

This cake has been a hit since the first time I made it a few years ago. In fact, it was Ryan’s favorite until my Samoa Cake came along last month, which knocked down the Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake into second place. Haha!

The slightly bitter dark chocolate cake layers compliment the salty and sweet frosting so well. And while the cake is decadent and rich, the frosting is light and fluffy – creating a cake that doesn’t feel too heavy or too rich.

I have made this cake at least a dozen times and somehow never manage to get a shot of the inside. This year I made it again for Ryan’s birthday, with every intention to take pictures of the inside, but somehow, it never happened. So, here’s a single shot of this delicious cake that I hope you love as much as we do!

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake

Yield One 3-layer, 8-inch cake or 4-layer, 6-inch cake

Dark chocolate cake layers with salted caramel frosting and caramel drip.

Ingredients

For the Chocolate Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups, minus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups good quality dark cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot water

For the Salted Caramel

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons water
  • 4 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

Instructions

For the Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. (You can also use four 6-inch pans). Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper, then spray the pans again. Set aside. 
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
  3. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, water and vanilla.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 16-18 minutes.  
  6. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  7. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until ready to use. You're still going to want to level your cake layers to ensure a completely even surface for frosting and stacking.

For the Salted Caramel

  1. Mix sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan
  2. 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 (as seen in the photo above). It happens quickly, so keep an eye on it.
  3. 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.
  4. Mix in salt and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  5. Set the caramel sauce to the side and let cool completely before making the frosting.
  6. Once the caramel sauce is cooled completely, divide it in half and reserve one half of the caramel for the drip. Use the other half for the frosting.
  7. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the softened butter, powdered sugar and half of the caramel together in a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. If the icing seems to stiff, ad a bit of cream - just a little at a time until it reaches a smooth, spreading consistency of your liking.

Assembly

  1. Place the first cake layer bottom-side down, in the center of the cake board. Using an offset palette knife, spread about 3/4 cup frosting evenly across the cake layer. Drizzle with about a tablespoon or two of caramel sauce.
  2. Place the second cake layer on top of the frosting. Frost the top of the second cake and drizzle with another tablespoon or so of caramel.
  3. Place the third cake layer, top side down, on top of the frosting. 
  4. Crumb coat the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting and freeze for about 10 to 15 minutes to set.
  5. Once the crumb coat is set, continue to frost the cake with the remaining frosting, and then use the remaining caramel sauce as a drip. 

8 thoughts on “Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake

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  1. Trying this today! I make cakes all the time for friends, but have never done one with caramel, or made homemade caramel ever! I just finished the caramel part and it is amazing!!! I never realized how easy it was to make! Will post a picture of my finished product! 😋

  2. I LOVE this cake!! I made it before you combined the two posts, and everyone seriously loved it. I loved in your post with the salted caramel frosting that you added the pictures of the boiling mixture to help give an idea of the color you’re going for. The recipe in this post actually refers to those pictures. I was thinking it might be nice to include those images in this post? Just a thought. 🙂

    I love what you do here! It’s my favorite. 🙌🏼

  3. I can’t wait to make this for my daughters birthday! Will it work for 9 inch round pans? That is what I have. Thanks!