November 4, 2014

Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

This is not just your ordinary, Sunday afternoon, need to invite my friends over so I don't eat this whole dang thing, chocolate cake. It's a very special cake, dedicated to a special person. A few bloggers have got together to host a virtual baby shower for Jessica from How Sweet It Is. It's really a shame though (that it's a virtual baby shower, and not a real life one), because a party with over 65 food bloggers making delicious food is pretty much my idea of heaven. And it's also a shame that I wasn't able to share this cake with Jessica in person, because I know that she would be the first one to appreciate the extra effort I made into trashing it up a.k.a dumping salty sticky caramel all over the top and then sprinkling with Maldon salt. Jessica's level of commitment to providing the world with the most delicious recipes is incredible. If I'm ever feeling a bit down, or lacking inspiration, I head on over to her blog, which is basically a site for all things tasty. And now she has a cookbook Seriously Delish that is just as amazing, and I'll admit that on a few occasions, I've been caught drooling all over the pages.

Jessica's love for food and life, is what originally drew me to her blog. Her recipes are inventive and colorful, and I am constantly waiting in anticipation for her new creations. Her writing makes you feel as though you've known her for years. I have not yet got the opportunity to meet her in person, but I want to, because she seems so awesome. When I heard that we were having a virtual baby shower for her, I knew that I wanted to make a cake, because its sort of my thing, and I knew I could have some fun trying to trash-it-up. I chose my favorite chocolate cake recipe from Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate, which is one of the easiest and fool-proof cake recipes that I have ever made. I made a salted buttercream frosting, and then reserved a bit of the caramel to drizzle over the top, followed by a few sprinkles of Maldon sea salt. This cake is good. I mean really good. So good, that I really did invite 6 friends over to help me eat it, because I knew that if I didn't get any help, I was in fact going to eat the whole thing myself. Hopefully, some time in the future I am able to make this cake for Jessica in person, because I feel sort of bad talking up such a big game over here. A big congratulations to you Jessica!

If you'd like to take a look at what some of the other bloggers made for the virtual baby shower, I have shared the links below.

Trashed-up Salads
Gimme Some Oven - Asian Broccoli Salad with Peanut Sauce
The Lemon Bowl - Brussels Slaw with Tahini Dressing and Za'atar Crostini
With Style & Grace - Kale Salad with Apple, Hazelnuts & Bacon

Trashed-up Cocktails
Dine and Dish - Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail
Food For My Family - Cranberry Orange Dark and Stormy Cocktail
Minimalist Baker - Bourbon Pumpkin Milkshakes
Stylish, Stealthy & (sometimes) Healthy - Apple Cider Shandy
A Spicy Perspective - Preggy Punch Mocktail
Girl vs. Dough - Boozy Maple Peanut Butter Cup Milkshake
Honestly Yum - Maple Bacon Pisco Sour
Cookin Canuck - Pink Grapefruit Margaritas
A Thought For Food - Mezcal Citrico Cocktail
A House in the Hills - Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer
The Novice Chef - Ginger Bourbon Apple Cider
Bran Appetit - Citrus Cider Punch Floats

Trashed-up Burgers
Edible Perspective - Meatloaf Veggie Burgers with Mashed Potatoes + Gravy
The Little Kitchen - Salmon BLT Sliders with an Avocado Aioli & Brie
Daisy At Home - Balsamic Beef Burger with Mac and Cheese
Cookies and Cups - Candied Bacon Maple Cheddar Burger
Climbing Grier Mountain - Trashed-Up Steak Burger with Chicken Fried Bacon & Dijon Gravy
Dessert For Two - Bleu Cheese Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries
Country Clever - Fig Rosemary Roast Chicken Brie Brussels Sprout Panini
Foodie Crush - The Best Cheeseburger Soup
Lady and Pups - Spicy Sambal Chicken Meatball Sub with Eggs
Two Peas and Their Pod - Sweet Potato and Kale Grilled Cheese
Bake Your Day - Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich

Trashed-up Tacos
Spoon Fork Bacon - Crunchy Ground Beef and Cheesy Tacos
The Fauxmartha - Boozy Beef and Butternut Tacos
With Food + Love - Harvest Hash Breakfast Tacos
Mountain Mama Cooks - Crispy Kale and Brussels Sprout Tacos with Bacon
Heather Christo - Bahn Mi Tacos with Spicy Sriracha Honey Sauce
A Couple Cooks - Loaded Huevos Rancheros Tacos
Fitnessista - San Diego Lobster Street Tacos

Trashed-up Desserts
Table for Two - Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate, and Brown Butter Shortbread Bars with Sprinkles
My Name is Yeh - Mini Vanilla Loaf Cakes, All Trashed Up
Picky Palate - Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch Sprinkle Cupcakes
Sprinkle Bakes - Cake Batter Confetti Cupcakes
Averie Cooks - Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Sweet Phi - Trashed Up Shortbread Cookie Bars
Love and Olive Oil - Loaded Junk Food Brownies
Lauren’s Latest - Bakery Sugar Cookies
Cookie + Kate - Peanut Butter, Banana, Honey and Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies
The Sugar Hit - Salted Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream Cake
Hummingbird High - Breakfast Cereal Cake Donuts
Top With Cinnamon - Triple Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Crumb Cake
Bake at 350 - Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sundaes
Simple Bites - Lemon Layer Cake
Bakerella - Baby Block Cake Pops
She Wears Many Hats - Chocolate Covered Grapefruit

Trashed-up Pizza
Bev Cooks - Beer Battered Fried Calamari Pizza
Rachel Cooks - Apple and Chicken Sausage Pizza with Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Crust
Foodie With Family - Trashed Up Barbecue Turkey Pizza
Shutterbean - Pesto Potato Bacon Pizza
i am a food blog - Grilled Cheese Pizza
My Life as a Mrs - Chili Cheese Dog Pizza
Simply Scratch - Steak + Blue Cheese Pizza with Crispy Fried Shallots and Honey Balsamic Drizzle
The Beeroness - Beer Cheese Tater Tot Pizza
Yes I Want Cake - Roasted Pumpkin Pizza
Two Red Bowls - Bacon Mashed Potato Pizza
Dula Notes - Pork Bahn Mi Pizza
Weelicious - Trashed Up Mexican Pizza Pockets
Take a Megabite - Roasted Beet Pizza
Hungry Girl Por Vida - Hard Cider Braised Pork with Sour Cherries and Cheesy Polenta 
Bakers Royale - Trash’d Street Tacos

serves 14
recipe adapted from Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate

2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup whole milk
1 cup boiling water

2 tsp light corn syrup
4 tbsp water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice 
2 sticks butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
Maldon salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Line 3 - 6" cake pans with parchment paper. Grease with butter, and then dust with flour. 

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the lightly beaten eggs and combine. Add the canola oil and the milk and combine. Stir in the boiling water. Your batter should now be fairly liquid

Divide the batter into the three pans. Place into the oven and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from their pans. Let them finish cooling on a wire rack. 

Place the corn syrup, water, and granulated sugar in a small saucepan and combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Do not stir the mixture while it's boiling. Continue to boil until it thickens and turns a light brown caramel color. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the cream, vanilla, salt, and lemon juice with a wire whisk. If the caramel clumps unevenly, place back on the stove on low heat, and stir until it becomes smooth. Set to the side to cool completely.

Once the caramel sauce is completely cool, combine the 2 sticks of softened butter, 4 cups powdered sugar, and 3/4 of the caramel together in a mixer and beat until a smooth. 

Once the cakes have cooled completely, assemble them by placing a thick layer of frosting between each layer. Cover the top and sides with the rest of the frosting and smooth out with a spatula. Drizzle the left over caramel on top. Finish with some flaked Maldon salt. 


  1. I've been trying to figure out a cake to make for my coworker's birthday on Friday and this nailed it. I can't wait to make this!

  2. What a perfect cake for celebrating the awesome-ness that is Jessica and her blog and her book. The internet is just crazy with trashed-up recipes today. I don't know if I can handle it all!

  3. this is like everything i love about cozy fall days, all layered up in cake form. i love it!!!!

  4. I absolutely WISH we could share this cake! It is totally stunning. Thank you so, so, so much! XOXOXO

  5. This cake combines my two favorite flavors!

  6. There is nothing that I don't love about this cake! I love that it's tall, that it's chocolate, that it's got caramel and sea salt. Who wouldn't want this for their shower, or birthday, or just because they love cake!

  7. this cake looks so incredible! i want to try it, even though I am the WORST at decorating. it's gorgeous!

  8. HOLY HECK woman! And that first can see how amazing the texture is! Such a sweet post, too! xo

  9. I am 30 soon and I have been looking for my dream birthday cake and dya know what? This might just be it! Will have to test it first thought - all in the name of research of course ;-)

  10. Good heavens almighty. I'm dead.

    Thank you so much for being a part of this!

  11. I love this so hard. Seriously. Please make it for me.

  12. Whoa. This is a sweet finish to this virtual shower, indeed. Gorgeous!

  13. What a crazily delicious looking cake. So in love with it, and I wish this baby shower were real too.

  14. WOW! this cake looks delicious. What a beautiful idea to do a virtual baby shower for a blogger..

  15. This is so dang fun!!! Dying for that sauce. DYING!!!!!

  16. That is the prettiest cake ever! It looks so moist and delicious :)

  17. Where has this cake been all my life!

  18. This looks amazing! I am making it for my mother in laws before. She's a real foodie so I needed something extra special! Do you know what the cook time would be if I used 8" pans? Or do you think that would look weird and i should just buy some 6" ones?! Thanks!!

  19. I am making this for tonight for my moms 60th birthday. The only issue I have run into is I think that there is too much cream in the caramel, I've had to triple the other caramel sauce ingredients and leave the cream at 1/2 cup. It could just be my, but it's still super runny and I'm hoping by adding the third caramel try it will thicken enough to go on a cake. Thanks for sharing this recipe!!

    1. After adding the cream to the boiled sugar, the caramel sauce will be runny. Let it sit on the counter to cool, and it should thicken up within a couple of hours. You want the caramel sauce to be completely cool before adding it to the icing.

    2. Can you drizzle the caramel a few hours in advance or will the cause it to just slide off by the time you serve it?

  20. I made this for my husband's birthday on Sunday. It was amazing and even my mother in law said that it was the best cake she ever had! Which means a TON because my husband always asks for HER chocolate cake for his birthday. So Yeah. We're keeping this recipe for ever. The only thing is that the cake was super super moist and soft (I know, not something to complain about normally), so much so that making it a 3 layer cake meant it was kind of unstable and hard to frost. But that's it. And maybe I should have let it sit longer before assembling it... So even then, not really a problem because it got devoured. Thank you for posting!!!

    1. Hi Alex - I'm glad you and your family enjoyed the cake. Often there are temperature variations between ovens. Next time, I would suggest baking the cake a little longer. You want to be able to insert a toothpick and have it come out clean. I imagine that the cake just needed a bit more baking!. I usually wait until my cake cools completely before icing. The cake is a super soft and moist cake thought, so if you were having a bit of problems icing, next time you could put it in the fridge for an hour to help it retain a stiffer shape. Thanks for your comment.

    2. Thank you! Good tips. Will make this again for sure. My mom just texted me asking for the recipe for that SINFUL cake we had. So yeah, many a happy customer :)

  21. Hi there! I made this cake for my mom's birthday and now my husband is requesting it for his. But, I can't remember if I sifted the flour and then measured it, or if I measured it and then sifted it. Any insight would be greatly appreciated! Thank you : )

    1. Hi Ali,

      This recipe does not call for sifted flour. You can just plop it right in the bowl. Hope this helps!

  22. Hi there,

    Just wondering how many cups 2 sticks of butter is and whether you used salted or unsalted butter?


    1. I used unsalted butter, and 2 sticks = 1 cup. Cheers!

  23. Could you double the recipe without side effects? I'm getting married in September and wanted this for my wedding cake!

    1. Yes, you can double the recipe. If you are using a larger pan, you will need to adjust the baking time. The larger the pan, the more time it will need to bake.

  24. How many grams is your stick of butter?

  25. This looks seriously impressive. I'm having a big dinner party tomorrow night, and this looks like it will be the night's feature!

    I'm wondering if you think golden syrup will be ok to replace the corn syrup? Also, is regular salt ok if I don't have any Maldon at home?


    1. Hi Tasha. This dinner party you speak of sounds like it is going to be a blast. I think that golden syrup is fine to replace the corn syrup. I would stick to a Maldon salt or flaked sea salt for sprinkling. If you don't have any, I would just omit. I wouldn't try to use regular table salt. I think it just might turn into a salty mess! Good luck with your party.

  26. Hi! I'm gonna be making this cake this week-end for my sister's birthday! I was wondering if you tried making the buttercream in advance? It's usually not a problem with most buttercreams, but I just wanted your feedback before trying :)


    1. Hi Eloise,

      I am so happy that you decided on this cake. You won't be disappointed. I don't see any issues with making the buttercream frosting a day in advance. I have not done it with this particular cake, but I imagine it will still taste delicious and hold up nicely for a day or two. Let me know how it goes!
      Hugs and happy birthday!

  27. How thick is the caramel sauce? Will it hold its shape and drip pattern? I want to make this cake tonight for a party tomorrow so if I pour the sauce over the finished cake at night will it still look like your picture the next day or will it have all drizzled down the side and be in a puddle on the cake board? Hoping it's thick enough to sort of 'freeze' on the side of the cake!

    1. Hi Lauren, After letting the caramel sauce cool, it will be a pourable consistency - similar to molasses. If you pour the sauce on the cake the night before, it will probably not look like the cake above. I would suggest making the sauce the nigh before, and then pouring it on right before serving. That being said, I am sure it will taste delicious either way ;)

  28. I had a question about the cream. Is it just like heavy cream?

  29. Diana Askew21 August, 2015

    Hi, I made this for my son's 13th birthday this week. Thanks so much; it's delicious and looked so good too. A real show stopper. Will be making it again!

  30. I made this a couple weeks ago for my aunt's birthday, and it was AMAZING. I used 9' pans, so I doubled the recipe and watched the time much more closely. In making it, the batter looked more like chocolate soup than anything which had me worried, but it really turned out wonderfully. I'm not very experienced with cakes, so I let the frosting get too soft before use, which made the aesthetic value drop about 100 points, but it was so tasty nobody cared (except me of course). Thanks for a great recipe!

  31. This looks amazing. I'm going to make it Tuesday for a friend's birthday. How far in advance can you pour the extra caramel sauce on the cake?