Chocolate Caramel Cake

This chocolate caramel cake is amazingly moist and features the most delicious coconut-flavored caramel frosting. It’s easy to make and spectacular to look at.

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Caramel chocolate cake on a plate with coconut caramel frosting and caramel drizzle

I spotted this chocolate caramel cake in my Instagram feed the other day, and it happened to be my best friend’s birthday. So I decided it was fate! But to be honest…even in the absence of a birthday, it’s pretty much guaranteed that if I see “chocolate” and “caramel” together in a recipe title, that recipe is going to get made.

I started on this one that very night. I always like to make layer cakes over two days. The process just feels so much more manageable that way. I bake the cake layers on the first day, and on the second day I make the frosting and decorate the cake.

But this time, after I baked the layers, I left them to cool, planning to wrap them up before going to bed. In my typical absent-minded fashion, I forgot about them and they sat on the counter exposed all night!

I debated starting over and baking them again… but after trimming and leveling a layer, it seemed like it was still really moist. So I took a chance, and guess what! It worked out fine! Actually, better than fine. The yogurt and buttermilk kept it unbelievably moist, and unbelievably delicious.

Closeup of caramel chocolate cake on a plate with coconut caramel frosting and caramel drizzle

I found the recipe via Sweet Style CA ‘s Instagram, but it is originally from the new Half-Baked Harvest cookbook. Needless to say, that cookbook is now on my birthday list (and thankfully that’s not too far away).

The other remarkable thing about this chocolate caramel cake is the frosting. It’s a basic buttercream mixed with the most delicious caramel sauce I’ve ever made. There is an option to use heavy cream to make a traditional caramel. Which no one in their right mind would ever complain about. BUT if you really want to surprise and delight your taste buds, you can use coconut cream (or full-fat coconut milk if you can’t find it). I’m telling you, this was a huge revelation to me. The coconut taste doesn’t overpower at all, but just gives the caramel the most amazing tropical flavor.

Slice of caramel chocolate cake on a plate with coconut caramel frosting and caramel drizzle

I went with a naked style again for the frosting because it’s easy, beautiful, and my new favorite thing! See this spectacular gingerbread layer cake for a few tips on this style of frosting.

Chocolate cake layer with piped frosting dam - how-to for frosting a caramel chocolate cake

I hope you’re staying warm and aren’t feeling the post-holiday letdown too badly! <3

Caramel chocolate cake on a plate with coconut caramel frosting and caramel drizzle
4.54 from 26 votes
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Chocolate Caramel Cake

This chocolate caramel cake is amazingly moist and features the most delicious coconut-flavored caramel frosting. It's easy to make and spectacular to look at.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Calories 748 kcal
Author Ann

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Caramel Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce (recipe below)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Caramel Sauce

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, coconut cream, or full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Instructions

Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 3 8-inch cake pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, buttermilk, yogurt, melted chocolate, oil, and vanilla, and mix on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes.*If your ingredients were cold, adding the chocolate may cause some lumps in the mixture, but this won't affect the finished product.
  4. Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the dry ingredients in two batches, mixing until combined. Slowly add the coffee, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix until smooth and fully combined.
  5. Distribute the cake batter evenly among the three pans. I like to use a scale for this, especially when doing a naked frosting style, so that the layers will be of equal size.
  6. Bake layers for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for at least 20 minutes before turning the layers out onto a cooling rack.
  7. Frost the cake to a smooth finish. Slowly pour some caramel sauce over the top of the cake, spreading it to the edges with an offset spatula so that it drips down the sides.

Caramel Frosting

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.
  2. Turn the speed down to low and add the sugar, one cup at a time until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add a 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of the cooled caramel, along with vanilla and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.*If you add a full 3/4 cup of caramel sauce, you may find that the frosting is a bit too soft at this point. Adding about a half cup of confectioner's sugar should solve this.

Caramel Sauce

  1. Pour the sugar into a large dry, preferably light-colored, skillet, over medium-high heat. After a few minutes, the sugar will begin to melt and turn golden. Whisk occasionally until it is completely melted. Remove from heat.
  2. Add the butter, whisking it in one tablespoon at a time. Whisk in the heavy cream or coconut cream until smooth and well combined.
  3. Return the pan to medium heat. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until the caramel begins to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and salt.
  4. Pour the caramel sauce into a heatproof bowl and let it cool to room temperature before using in the frosting. It will continue to thicken as it cools. The caramel can be put in the refrigerator to speed this up.

Recipe Notes

Slightly adapted from the Half Baked Harvest Cookbook via Sweet Style CA

Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Caramel Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 748 Calories from Fat 369
% Daily Value*
Fat 41g63%
Saturated Fat 20g125%
Cholesterol 102mg34%
Sodium 453mg20%
Potassium 269mg8%
Carbohydrates 91g30%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 73g81%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 840IU17%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 80mg8%
Iron 2.8mg16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



26 thoughts on “Chocolate Caramel Cake”

  • Just wondering if this cake would be sturdy for a tiered cake, I’m making a 2-3 tier (9-inch & 6-inch tiers and maybe a 12 inch) cake for my sons birthday and he loves caramel and chocolate and this looks fantastic, I will just be doing something a bit different on the outside but will use the caramel frosting for between the layers.

    • Yes, it’s moist but definitely sturdy enough for tiers, I’d say! You’ll need dowels of course, like for any tiered cake, especially if you go with 3 tiers, but the crumb is sturdy. Happy birthday to your son, and I’d love to hear how it turns out 🙂

  • Hi Anne! This cake looks fantastic and I am looking forward to making it this weekend. Just a quick question, would I be able to make the caramel sauce 2-4 days in advance and keep it in the fridge? I would think it would keep fine, but any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Absolutely Melissa! I’ve even kept it in a sealed jar at room temp for longer than a week, but there’s absolutely no harm in refrigerating it either, just take it out a couple of hours before using it since it will thicken a lot in the fridge. Hope you love this cake as much as we do!

  • Do you bake by weight or volume measurement? I ask because I prefer to bake by weight, and I noticed that there are a few discrepancies between the listed metric and US volume conversions. For example, you say 2 1/4 all purpose flour, but that would equal 270g, whereas you have listed 281.25g….which seems a little too precise. 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar should equal 445.5g, but you list 450g. 3/4 cup Canola oil should be 177ml, give or take. Given that this is an adapted recipe, should I follow the U.S. customary units, or did you modify it and bake using the metric? And if not, how is the conversion on the recipe working?

    (I realize that I’m quibbling over grams, but I’d like to bake this for a very special birthday and I want it to be perfect!)

    • Hi Jess! I bake by weight as well, but write recipes in volume measurements as I know most people in the US prefer it. My recipe card automatically converts volume measurements to grams and I look it over to make sure it looks ok. If something looks really off, I keep the volume measurement as I think it’s safer. This cake is adapted from someone else’s recipe though, where volume measurements were used, so you can definitely rely on those as they are straight from the original recipe (if you want to be safest, I would go that route). But when I make it myself I weigh the ingredients and consider that 1 cup of flour is 124g to me, 1 cup of sugar is 200g etc. This has worked fine for me for this particular recipe as I think it’s very forgiving. I do find that there is variation with conversions people use, especially when it comes to flour, so I tend to stick with the recipe card conversion unless I think it’s totally off and will yield an unsatisfactory result. Thank you for asking, i hope this makes sense! Please let me know if anything’s unclear 🙂


  • Like Christine, I don’t like coffee. But that’s because I’m not a grown up, but 10 years old. No joke! But this was as good as when my grandma made a caramel/condensed milk cake! maybe you could do white chocolate too? And I’m definetely going to ask mom for this recipe to be my birthday cake!

    • White chocolate caramel cake sounds amazing Alex! I’ll have to get to work on that. I can’t tell you how flattered I am that you like this one as much as your grandma’s!! 🙂


  • Hello! I had been looking for a birthday cake to make for my son and stepdaughter. Their birthdays are 3 days apart so we decided to celebrate them together this year. I was looking for something a little different and since they both love chocolate this looked to be the perfect cake, and it sure was! Although the cake is very rich it was moist and delicious. It was my second attempt at making homemade caramel sauce. I thought I ruined it but it came put fine. For those concerned about tasting the coffee, you cannot taste any coffee flavor, but it certainly enhances the chocolate taste of the cake. The frosting was delicious. Honestly, I probably kept tasting an obscene amount of frosting and caramel sauce while making this, but everything about this cake was just that good! Thank you for sharing this recipe. My family loved the cake and my son and stepdaughter were quite impressed with it.

    • Oh my goodness Janie, thank you so much for this! Yes, making caramel can be a little scary but homemade is so worth it! Really really glad you and your family loved the cake 🙂

    • I don’t personally detect any coffee flavor, coffee just tends to enhance the chocolate flavor. But you can use just hot water instead if you prefer!

    • Yes, for sure! If you have three 9 inch pans, your layers will be a bit thinner and will probably bake faster. I would test with a toothpick at about 20-25 minutes. If you use only two 9 inch pans, your layers will be thicker and will take a bit more time – 35-40 minutes – to bake. Hope that helps!


  • I may have left something on the counter that was meant to be wrapped and refrigerated overnight, but I don’t see it as a character flaw — clearly we’ve just got too much on our minds. This cake looks so dark and rich — but I confess you had me at caramel buttercream. Yes, yes — all day, yes!

    • I won’t pretend it was the first time I’ve done something like that, but I appreciate the support!! You are right about having too much on our minds 🙂

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