This luscious chocolate salted caramel cake is the ultimate decadent dessert! It's moist, richly flavored, and simple to make!
Get ready to spoil yourself (and others!) with the ultimate indulgence: homemade salted caramel chocolate cake!
Chocolate and caramel come together in this show-stopping dessert. This delicious chocolate salted caramel cake is perfect for any occasion!
I really enjoyed making this cake! It looks so enticing, too, especially when the salted caramel cake filling oozes from the middle when the cake is cut!
- What is chocolate salted caramel cake?
- Why you'll love this chocolate salted caramel cake
- What does this chocolate cake with caramel taste like?
- WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- Ingredients for salted caramel and chocolate cake
- Equipment you'll need
- HOW TO MAKE THIS CHOCOLATE CARAMEL CAKE
- Step-by-step Instructions
- Recipe Notes
- Make-ahead Option
- Storage Tips
- Freezing Options
- TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- MORE CAKE RECIPES
What is chocolate salted caramel cake?
Chocolate salted caramel cake is typically made up of rich chocolate cake layers, filled with creamy salted caramel sauce, and then topped off with frosting or chocolate ganache. This particular chocolate cake recipe is slightly different in that each cake layer is brushed with a little rum which is delish!
Why you'll love this chocolate salted caramel cake
- Homemade caramel sauce. This recipe uses my homemade salted caramel sauce.
- Impressive. This chocolate caramel layer cake is great for special occasions.
- It's quite simple. This cake might look complicated, but it isn't. You don't even need to have spectacular cake decorating skills, either, since it's a semi naked cake and you don't have to frost the sides.
- It's flavorful. This indulgent chocolate and caramel cake tastes incredible. I love the flavor combination.
What does this chocolate cake with caramel taste like?
This cake combines the distinctive flavors of chocolate and caramel with a hint of saltiness. It's a really moist triple layer chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream frosting.
Each cake layer is brushed with a little rum and then topped with gooey salted caramel sauce (homemade, of course). Even though there is rum, the cake is not boozy at all.
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
Ingredients for salted caramel and chocolate cake
This recipe is made of 4 parts:
1) making homemade salted caramel sauce (you can skip this step if you're using store-bought caramel)
2) making the chocolate cake layers
3) making the salted caramel buttercream frosting
4) assembling the cake
See the recipe card at the end of the post for quantities.
Ingredients for the salted caramel sauce
Butter: I use unsalted butter.
Sugar: I use regular granulated sugar.
Heavy Whipping Cream: You’ll need cream of at least 35% fat.
Salt: I use table salt, but you could use fine kosher salt or flaky sea salt.
Ingredients for the chocolate cake layers
- Flour: I use all purpose flour.
- Baking powder, baking soda & salt: I use both baking powder and baking soda. The salt enhances all the flavors.
- Sugar: I use a combination of regular granulated sugar and light brown sugar. I like the slightly caramel flavor of the brown sugar.
- Oil: I use light vegetable oil which helps make the the cake moist.
- Eggs: I use organic eggs.
- Boiling water: I use boiling water to bloom the chocolate for a more intense chocolate flavor. You can also use strong brewed coffee, instead.
- Buttermilk: I often make my own homemade buttermilk (aka sour milk) by stirring some vinegar with fresh milk.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: I use Dutch process cocoa powder. If you're not sure what the difference is between natural cocoa and Dutch-processed, you can read my post about it, here.
- Rum: I use a little rum to brush on the cakes after I've leveled them. This is totally optional, of course, but it adds a nice subtle kick! You could also use bourbon, instead.
Ingredients for the salted caramel buttercream frosting
- Butter: I use unsalted butter room temperature.
- Powdered sugar: I use confectioner's sugar.
- Caramel: This recipe uses about half a batch of my Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce. You could use store-bought, however, keep in mind that you might need to adjust the amount of powdered sugar to get the right consistency for the frosting, depending on how thick your caramel is.
Equipment you'll need
- three 6-inch (15cm) or two 8-inch (20cm) round cake pans
- mixing bowls
- parchment paper
- hand mixer or stand mixer
HOW TO MAKE THIS CHOCOLATE CARAMEL CAKE
First, make the salted caramel sauce.
Click here if you'd like to learn more detailed information on how to make the salted caramel sauce.
Put the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and wait about 3 minutes until you see the sugar melting around the sides.
After all the sugar has melted, watch out to see if it bubbles in the middle. As soon as it does, add some of the cream and continue whisking.
Then add a little more cream and keep whisking. It will start to thicken.
Take the saucepan off the heat to avoid burning the caramel and whisk in the remaining cream.
Then add the butter and salt and continue whisking to combine everything.
Finally, pour the caramel into a bowl and let it cool.
Now, it's time to make the cake layers.
Whisk together the cocoa powder and boiling water in a small bowl until it's smooth. Set it aside to cool.
In another bowl, sift the four, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
To the flour mixture, add the oil and buttermilk and mix until combined.
Add the eggs and cocoa mixture all at once and mix until just combined.
Divide the batter between 3 pans and bake the cakes. Then them cool completely on a wire rack.
Refrigerate the cakes for at least one hour and trim the tops. Then brush each cake layer with rum.
Now, it's time to make the caramel frosting and assemble the cake.
Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl on medium speed until it's smooth and creamy.
Add the caramel sauce and beat until it's well incorporated.
Then add half of the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until everything is well combined.
Finally, add the remaining powdered sugar and beat to thoroughly combine everything.
Then put the frosting in a pastry bag so that it's easier to assemble the cake.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
Place the first cake layer on a cake stand or plate and add a layer of frosting across the surface. Then pipe a border of frosting around the edges.
Spoon some caramel sauce inside the border of frosting and use a rubber spatula to spread it out, starting from the middle. Don't add too much caramel or it will spill over.
Top with the second cake layer and repeat the process. Then refrigerate the cake so the layers stay in place.
Take the cake out of the fridge and top with the final cake layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top. Then decorate with more frosting, if desired.
Finish off by drizzling some more salted caramel sauce on top and let the caramel drip over the sides.
You can make the cake layers and the caramel sauce up to 2 days in advance and keep them in the refrigerator.
Store the finished cake (covered) in the refrigerator for up to about 5 days. Before serving, leave it out at room temperature for at least half an hour.
This cake freezes well! You make the cake layers, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them for up to 3 months.
Easily freeze decorated slices of cake individually for up to about 3 months. Just wrap them in plastic wrap and then place them in freezer bags or freezer-safe containers. Let them thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
This cake is fantastic on its own, but there are many variations you can try, too. Here are a few ideas:
- Make it boozy. For a boozier cake, feel free to add more rum!
- Add texture. This cake would be amazing topped off with some chopped nuts, extra caramel sauce, and sprinkles of sea salt.
- Make dark chocolate salted caramel cake. Try using dark chocolate for a richer, deeper flavor. Dark chocolate pairs perfectly with salted caramel.
- Mocha salted caramel cake. This variation incorporates coffee in the cake and the buttercream frosting! Coffee lovers will love the bold flavor that really complements the chocolate and caramel perfectly.
- Make peanut butter chocolate salted caramel cake. If you're a peanut butter lover, add some peanut butter to the frosting and top it with some chopped peanuts.
- Make chocolate salted caramel cheesecake. For those who love cheesecake, you could make my eggless chocolate cheesecake and top it off with a very generous drizzle of salted caramel sauce!
Honestly, though, no matter which variation you choose, this chocolate salted caramel cake will be a crowd-pleaser!
TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Use high-quality ingredients. Try to get the best ingredients you can, like premium cocoa powder. Also, make sure your ingredients are at room temperature before beginning.
- If you use store-bought caramel instead of my salted caramel sauce, make sure it's a bit thick.
- Weigh your ingredients. Use a digital scale for the best results possible.
- Cool your cakes. I find that it's a lot easier to trim the tops of the cakes after chilling them for at least an hour. You could also put them in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes before leveling the tops.
- Be patient. The cakes need to be COMPLETELY cool before adding the caramel or making the frosting.
- Know your oven. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on your cakes while they're baking.
I have never tried this cake with store-bought caramel, so I can't guarantee how it will turn out or what it will taste like. However, if you're short on time or prefer convenience, you can use store-bought caramel. I'd look for high-quality, thick caramel for the best flavor.
You can make these cake layers up to two days in advance. Just make sure they're well-wrapped and stored properly in the refrigerator.
The buttercream will be saltier. I use unsalted butter because there's salt in the caramel sauce, so there's no need to use salted butter.
MORE CAKE RECIPES
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Let me know how this Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake turns out for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!
Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake
- deep, heavy saucepan that has a capacity of at least 3 quarts (about 3 liters)
- three 6 inch (15cm) pans or two 8 inch (20cm) pans
- parchment paper to line the pans
- hand mixer
- piping bag and tip (I use Wilton 1M)
- bench scraper or large offset spatula
For the salted caramel sauce (Makes about ¾ cup. Double the ingredients if you want to keep extra sauce in the fridge.)
- ¾ cup (150 g / 5.3 oz) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (200ml) heavy whipping cream
- 45g (3 tablespoons / 1.5oz) unsalted butter, cubed
- ½ teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
For the cake layers
- ½ cup (60 g / 2 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dutch-processed)
- ½ cup (125ml) boiling water (or strong brewed coffee)
- 2 cups (8.8 oz / 250 g) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (150g) light brown sugar
- ¾ cup (150 g / 5.3 oz) granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (60ml) light vegetable oil
- ½ cup (125ml) buttermilk (or regular milk mixed with ½ tablespoon vinegar)
- 2 medium eggs, at room temperature
- 3-4 tablespoon rum for bushing the cakes (optional)
For the filling and garnish
- about ½ cup (140g/5oz) salted caramel sauce (from above)
For the salted caramel buttercream
- ⅔ cup (150g / 5.3oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1½ cups (200g / 7oz) powdered sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup (70g/2.5oz) salted caramel sauce (from above)
Make the salted caramel sauce
- Heat the cream, but don't boil it. Place it close to the stove, together with all the other ingredients.
- Put the sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
- Don't stir the sugar. After about 3 minutes or so, the sugar will begin to melt around the sides. Use a whisk or a heat-proof spatula to stir the sugar so it all melts.
- When it bubbles in the middle, add a little cream and whisk continuously. DO NOT ADD ALL THE CREAM AT ONCE. You could get burnt.
- Then add a little more cream and continue whisking.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and add the remaining cream. Whisk until it’s well combined.
- Add the butter and salt continue whisking to combine everything. (Let the caramel cool for a few minutes before tasting it to see if you want to add more salt.)
- Pour the caramel into a bowl to cool. Set it aside.
Prep the oven and the pans
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ / 180℃. Butter three 6 inch pans (or two 8 inch pans) and dust with cocoa powder or flour. Then line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
Make the chocolate cake layers
- Whisk together the cocoa powder and boiling water in a small bowl until it's smooth. Set it aside to cool.
- In another bowl, sift the four, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- To the flour mixture, add the oil and buttermilk and mix with a hand mixer until everything is combined. I start on low speed and slowly increase as needed.
- Add the eggs and cocoa mixture all at once and mix until just combined. You don't want to overmix the batter.
- Divide the batter between 3 pans (I like to weigh the batter first so the cakes are the same size.)
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven when they're done and let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes.
- Run a rubber spatula around the edges of the pans and then flip them over a wire rack. Remove the parchment paper and let the cakes cool completely.
- Refrigerate the cakes for at least one hour and then trim the tops.
- Brush each cake layer with rum (if using). Set aside.
Make the salted caramel buttercream frosting
- Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl on medium speed until it's smooth and creamy.
- Add the caramel sauce ( ¼ cup) and beat until its well incorporated.
- Add half of the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until everything is well combined.
- Mix in the remaining powdered sugar and beat on low speed. Gradually increase the speed to medium beat for about another minute. You may need to adjust the consistency of the frosting by adding more powdered sugar if it's too thin or more caramel (a tablespoon at a time) if it's too thick.
- Put the frosting in a pastry bag to make it easier to assemble the cake.
Assemble the cake
- Place the first cake layer on a cake stand or plate and add a layer of frosting across the surface. Then pipe a border of frosting around the edges.
- Spoon some caramel sauce inside the border of frosting and use a rubber spatula to spread it out, starting from the middle. Don't add too much caramel or it will spill over.
- Add the second cake layer on top and repeat the process.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes. This is important so that the cake layers stay in place. If the frosting is too warm, they might easily slide off.
- Take the cake out of the fridge and top with the final cake layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top. If you want to make rosettes on top like I did, make 1.5 x the amount of frosting (See Notes below for the exact amounts).
- Use a bench scraper or a large offset spatula to remove any frosting from the sides of the cake for a smooth, rustic, naked cake look.
- Finish off by drizzling some more salted caramel sauce on top and let the caramel drip over the sides.
- In this recipe, I made half a batch of my salted caramel sauce , which is about ¾ cup. For extra caramel sauce to serve with the cake, just double the ingredients.
- Weigh your ingredients. Use a digital scale for the best results possible.
- I find that it's a lot easier to trim the tops of the cakes after chilling them for at least an hour. You could also put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes before leveling the tops.
- The cakes need to be COMPLETELY cool before adding the caramel or making the frosting.
- Baking times vary, so keep an eye on your cakes while they're baking.
- For a sweeter cake with lots of rosettes on top, you'll need to make 1.5 x the amount of frosting, which is 1 cup (226g) butter, 2 ¼ cups (300g) powdered sugar and about ½ cup (105g) salted caramel sauce.