Pastries, Recipes

Chocolate-Caramel Layer Cake or: a Recipe for the Perfect Birthday Cake

March 5, 2017
chocolate caramel layer cake 1

When I first started this blog, I didn’t quite know where this would lead to, but I was pretty sure about one thing: that fancy cakes, whose preparation and the grocery shopping would equal a three-day marathon, wouldn’t get the biggest attention at this place. As much as I love a piece of Black Forest cake, the more elaborate recipes I left to my grandma thus far. Cause let’s be honest: the longer a dish takes to prepare, the more time there is for something to go wrong, which may occasionally seem a bit intimidating. Especially since the occasions for which it would make most sense to bake a giant layered cake usually are special moments where you don’t want something to go wrong ever.

Well, I’ve been wrong. While I would quietly and secretly still always opt for easy-to-prepare pastries (think of cinnamon buns, my all-time favorite!), I now believe that everyone should have that one recipe for the best friends birthday, the parents’ golden wedding anniversary or any other moment where you want to give the people you like best a special treat. When my sister set her mind on having an ombre cake (speak: a cake which is graduated in colour) with several layers for her 13th birthday last December, I realized that that was what I was missing. A basic, go-to cake recipe for special occasions. And oh boy, I’ve found it, cause this chocolate-caramel layer cake sure is yummy.

chocolate caramel layer cake 2

This layered cake is composed of a dense and moist chocolate sponge that actually resembles an American brownie, which is also why the cake is super rich and will easily feed two soccer teams. If you’re not a high-performance cookie eater, I would recommend, based on experience, to split one piece with your better half. And even if you are, sharing is probably the wiser decision as one piece will most likely cover the calorie requirement for an entire day. But it’s so worth it. It took me two attempts to create the perfect frosting as the first one, a basic white-chocolate buttercream, was simply too sugary given that the chocolate base is already quite sweet, so there was a spontaneous change of plan. This mascarpone-based frosting has a subtle caramel taste and a hint of vanilla and together with the chocolate sponge, it is the perfect combination. Thank you Monsieurmuffin for being my last-minute savior. 

Recipe for a chocolate-caramel layer cake for special moments

makes one four-layered Ø 26 cm cake

For the chocolate sponge:

  • 4 × 200 g butter
  • 4 × 100 g chocolate
  • 4 × 350 g flour
  • 4 × 400 g sugar
  • 4 × 50 g cocoa
  • 4 × 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 × 2 organic eggs
  • 4 × 200 ml buttermilk
  • 4 × 150 ml boiling water

For the caramel frosting:

  • 500 g mascarpone
  • 500 g cream cheese
  • 120 g icing sugar
  • 600 ml cream
  • 8 tbsp caramel sauce (either self-made or available in any well-assorted supermarket)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • optional: natural food coloring (we used beetroot extract)


  • at least two Ø 26 cm cake tins
  • spatula to distribute the frosting
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. I recommend to have at least two Ø 26 cm cake tins on hand to speed up the process.
  3. Grease the tins and line the bottom of the tins with baking paper. Therefore I always remove the sides, cut out a circle about five cm larger than the bottom all around. This will help to remove the cake properly when it’s all done.
  4. In a water bath, melt the butter and chocolate making sure it doesn’t burn.
  5. In a mixing bowl, mix together all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda).
  6. In a second bowl, combine the eggs and buttermilk.
  7. Then slowly add the chocolate-butter mixture and the egg-buttermilk mix to the dry ingredients and mix until everything is well-combined. Add the boiling water and keep mixing until the batter is smooth.
  8. Pour the batter in the baking tin and bake the cake for about 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Repeat steps 4-8 four times.
  10. Let them cool down completely and in case the upper side of the cakes did not come out evenly (or is a bit cracked), you can take off the surface with a large knife.
  11. On the day of the event, prepare the frosting. Jump over to Monsieurmuffin for the recipe of the caramel frosting. I also added 2 additional tbsp of vanilla extract.
  12. Now the fun part starts: Building the (hopefully not lean) tower of chocolate cakes! Therefore place the first chocolate cake layer on the plate you want to serve the cake. Since the entire cake will be very heavy due to the dense nature of the cake, you won’t be able to move it afterwards. Then put some frosting on top and place the second layer on top like a sandwich. Continue until you end up with a four layer cake. Now to make sure the outer frosting is free of small crumbs, first use a small amount of frosting, then clean your spatula and use the rest of the frosting to finish it off.
  13. In case you also want to add some color, divide the frosting in three parts. Leave one as it is and put some food coloring in the other two parts so that you end up with the color intensities you want.

Hope you’ll enjoy the cake as much as we did. We sure had a happy birthday girl! Have a lovely week everyone – let’s make it a good one. I can already sense the springlike air!



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