Indulge in this Chocolate Caramel Cake, a luxurious dessert the combines the rich depth of chocolate with the sweet allure of caramel. This exquisite cake is not just a treat for the palate but a feast for the eyes, perfect for special occasions or as a sumptuous weekend treat.

This chocolate caramel cake is a masterpiece. Inspired by the classic flavor combination, this cake is both rich and elegant. It’s an indulgence, perfect for those moments when you want to treat yourself or impress your guests.

Chocolate Caramel Cake stacked

The Chemistry of Chocolate Caramel Cake

The magic of this cake lies in its perfect blend of ingredients and the reactions they undergo during baking. The leavening agents, baking soda and powder, work with the acidic sour cream and cocoa powder to create a light, tender crumb. The caramel sauce, a symphony of melted sugar and butter, becomes a gooey, flavorful filling that seeps into the poked cake, while the ganache-based frosting adds a smooth, rich finish.

How does poking holes in the cake enhance the flavor?

Poking holes allows the caramel sauce to seep into the cake, infusing it with its rich flavor throughout.

Can you use store-bought caramel sauce?

Yes, while homemade is recommended for its depth of flavor, store-bought caramel sauce can be used for convenience.

What’s the secret to a smooth chocolate ganache frosting?

The key is to melt the chocolate and cream together slowly and stir well to ensure a silky, even texture. When melting in the microwave I only cook for 30 seconds, then stir vigorously, this helps the chocolate continue to melt after cooking. Then I repeat one time. After another 30 seconds I am able to stir enough that the chocolate fully melts. Stirring breaks up any hot pockets and continues heating the mixture even out of the microwave.

How should this cake be stored?

Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerator for longer shelf life.

Chocolate Caramel Cake stacked and with heart ribbon

What is in chocolate caramel cake?

All-purpose Flour

Builds structure as it absorbs liquids and expands. All-purpose flour falls in the middle of bread flour (high in gluten) and cake flour (low in gluten). It’s exactly what it is named, all-purpose, the most universal flour that can be used in most baked goods.

Granulated Sugar

Adds sweetness, provides a caramelized flavor and crisp texture. Sugar assists with rising when creamed with butter. It helps add moisture to your treat and helps it evenly spread as it melts into a liquid in the heat of the oven. Sugar also helps with naturally preserving your baked treat.

Cocoa Powder

Provides a rich, sweet chocolate flavor. Creates a dark brown color in your treat. Absorbs water in your batter or dough at the same rate as flour. That means, if you add too much, you could end up with a dried, crumbly finished product.

Baking Powder

Puffs up your batter or dough instead of spreading it out. Baking powder contains a little bit of baking soda, an acid & cornstarch. Because of this, it only needs a liquid to react. It also consists of two different acids, so it’s double reacting. It reacts as soon as it’s mixed with a moisture and then again when it’s heated up.

Baking Soda

Elevates the pH level of your batter or dough. It increases the spread in your treat and encourages browning, which gives the crispy outside and soft inside texture that everyone loves. Baking soda needs both an acid and a liquid to react. Things that will activate your baking soda are: vinegar, fruit juice, molasses, brown sugar, tartar, buttermilk and sour cream. Baking soda only reacts once, which is right when it’s mixed into your batter or dough. The soda creates little air bubbles all throughout your treat. When the air bubbles get heated up in the oven, they expand.

Fine Sea Salt

Enhances flavor, adds balance, masks any bitter flavors. Salt is the most powerful and oldest preservative. Always make sure to use fine sea salt so it melts down at the right speed in the heat of the oven. If you use larger granule salt, it will not melt down fully when baked and will leave salt crystals throughout your treat, making it crunch like you dropped it into sand.

Hot Water

Helps bloom the cocoa powder making it more rich and flavorful

Milk

Adds moisture to the batter or dough. Milk adds protein and sugar (lactose) to your treat. It encourages browning and adds a bit more sweetness to your baked treat.

Vegetable Oil

100% fat, contains no water and has a higher melting point. This means it will not melt down in your oven, resulting in thicker cookies or brownies. It doesn’t help leaven your treat like butter can, so it can make your treat flatter and greasier.

Eggs

Adds both a protein (egg whites) and fat (egg yolks). The egg whites help with rising because, when foamed, little air pockets get trapped inside the egg white mixture. The water content in egg whites encourages steam while baking, which helps with gluten formation, resulting in nice and thick treats. Egg yolks have emulsifying properties that bring batters and doughs together and help them from collapsing. Unless otherwise specified, always use large eggs.

Sour Cream

Is a very fatty dairy product. The extra fat will make your treat more moist and rich. It also is acidic so it will help baking soda react, which helps your treat rise.

Vanilla Extract

When using pure vanilla extract, as opposed to imitation flavoring, it will add the deep rich flavor that everybody wants in a treat.

Brown Sugar

Is granulated sugar with a little molasses mixed in. Molasses is a somewhat smoky flavored natural sweetener, which makes brown sugar a bit sweeter than granulated sugar. Brown sugar draws more moisture into your treat, keeping it softer for longer. It’s also more acidic, which means it will help activate your baking soda.

Vanilla Extract

When using pure vanilla extract, as opposed to imitation flavoring, it will add the deep rich flavor that everybody wants in a treat.

Unsalted butter

Often the main ingredient of frosting, it adds structure to your buttercream. It also adds a smooth and velvety texture. Butter melts at body temperature, so it will make your frosting have a melt-in-your-mouth sensation.

Chocolate Chips

Is a form of chocolate. Chocolate chips are not pure chocolate, they are typically made up of cocoa, sugar, emulsifier and vanilla.

Heavy Whipping Cream

Makes a softer, more spreadable frosting. When melted with chocolate it adds more fat and moisture to the mixture, resulting in a silkier blend.

Powdered Sugar

Is just finely ground granulated sugar. It will absorb moisture in your batter or dough. It dissolves easily, ensuring a smooth texture without grittiness. Because it is so fine, it can melt quickly in the oven and spread cookies out more. Powdered sugar also stabilizes and thickens the frosting, thanks to the small amount of cornstarch it contains.

Chocolate Caramel Cake up close

Storage Tips

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Cake is best served at room temperature for optimal flavor and texture, so if refrigerated, take out an hour or so before serving.

Making Ahead

The cake layers and caramel sauce can be prepared a day in advance. Assemble and frost the cake on the day of serving for the best presentation.

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Why make chocolate caramel cake?

This chocolate caramel cake is ideal for celebrating special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries, or as a luxurious treat for chocolate and caramel lovers during gatherings.

Recipes You May Love

Chocolate Caramel Cake

Author: Madison Reid
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 20
This lush chocolate cake is rich and exquisite. Better yet, poke and fill the cake with caramel sauce and top with fudgy chocolate frosting.

Ingredients 

Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips 1 bag
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  • In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, soda and salt
  • Add the hot water, whole milk and vegetable oil, Stir until combined
  • Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract. Stir until the batter is smooth
  • Pour the batter into three 8" round cake pans or two 10" round cake pans. Make sure to grease the pans and line them with parchment paper first so that the cakes can be easily removed when finished baking.
  • Bake for 25 minutes

Caramel Sauce

  • In a medium saucepan over medium low heat melt the butter
  • Add the brown sugar, cream, salt, and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth
  • Continue to stir and cook until the mixture starts to boil, once boiling, continue and time for 5 minutes
  • Remove from heat and allow it to cool down before you pour it over your cake.

Frosting

  • In a microwave safe bowl add the chocolate chips and cream
  • Microwave for 30 seconds and then stir the chocolate mixture. Repeat and then stir vigorously until all the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  • In a standing mixer whip the butter until smooth
  • Add the powdered sugar and mix it until combined.
  • Pour the chocolate ganache mixture into the standing mixer and stir until combined.
  • Once combined, whip the frosting for 2 minutes until lighter in color and texture.

Assemble

  • Once the cake is cooled, poke holes into the cake. Pour the caramel sauce over the cake and allow it to soak into the cake.
  • After the caramel has soaked in, frost the cake with chocolate frosting
  • **Optional** Sprinkle toffee bits on top

Nutrition

Calories: 701kcal Carbohydrates: 90g Protein: 3g Fat: 39g Saturated Fat: 22g Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g Monounsaturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 92mg Sodium: 281mg Potassium: 170mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 77g Vitamin A: 926IU Vitamin C: 0.1mg Calcium: 77mg Iron: 1mg

Have you tried this recipe?

I’d love to see it! Follow @_mrs.madi_ on Instagram and tag your photos with #mrsmadi.

Chocolate Caramel Cake titled