CONTEST WINNER: Salted Caramel Chocolate Layer Cake

CONTEST WINNER: Salted Caramel Chocolate Layer Cake


(16 votes) 4 16

Truly worthy of any celebration, this cake features a rich salted caramel filling sandwiched between dark, utterly moist chocolate cake layers that contain less fat than you might think.

Shared by
Arlington, VA

Time needed

2 hour preparation + 1 hour cooking

Serving Size / Yield

16 servings


  • Salted Caramel Filling:
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 3 Tbs. water
  • 1 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 1/3 C. heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. fleur de sel or other fine-grained sea salt
  • Cake Layers:
  • 1 3/4 C. all purpose flour
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 3/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 C. strong black coffee or 2 tsp. instant coffee powder plus 1 C. boiling water
  • 1 C. buttermilk or 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar plus milk to equal 1 C.
  • 1/2 C. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Buttercream:
  • 1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 C. powdered sugar, unsifted
  • 1 lg. pinch of salt
  • 5 Tbs. milk, half and half, or heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Garnish
  • Extra fleur de sel or other fine-grained sea salt

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For filling:
Place the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium and allow the mixture to cook without stirring until the sugar turns a dark amber color (about 10 minutes). Remove the pan from heat and pour in the cream (the mixture will bubble up). Stir well, then stir in the butter and salt. Let the filling cool to room temperature. Then cover the pot and chill in the refrigerator until needed.

For cake layers:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round pans and dust with cocoa powder. Optional but helpful: line pans with parchment circles. In a large bowl, sift and then stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk (or milk-vinegar mixture), coffee (or reconstituted coffee mixture), oil, and vanilla extract. Beat by hand or with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Pour the batter, which will be thin, into the prepared pans. Tap the pans firmly against the counter one time to remove any air bubbles. Bake just until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean (about 35-40 minutes). Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to wire racks and let them cool completely there.

For chocolate buttercream:
Sift the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and salt into a small bowl. Cream the butter with an electric mixer in another bowl. Alternate adding the sifted mixture and adding the cream, mixing well between each addition. Continue beating until the desired texture is achieved. Add more cream or powdered sugar if you want to thin or thicken the frosting.

To assemble:
Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or stand and top with one cool cake layer. Warm the caramel filling still in the saucepan over low heat for 5 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until it is a thick spreadable consistency. Spread evenly over the cake. Place the second cake layer over the filling and frost the top with chocolate buttercream. Finish the cake off with a sprinkle of sea salt, if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed. Cake will keep for 4 or more days if well covered.

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