Triple Layer Chocolate Caramel Cake

Flavor Profile: This triple layer chocolate caramel cake is packed with chocolaty goodness, light and airy chocolate buttercream frosting, and salted caramel sauce. It’s nothing short of perfection and is a winner every time. Add some chopped pecans or almonds for more variation and a more interesting flavor profile.
Texture: This cake is moist, soft, and luscious to eat. The cake is moist because of the addition of sour cream, making it a cake that will last a few days without drying out.

This chocolate cake came about as a labor of love for my dad for Father’s Day. My dad is pretty easy going and doesn’t ask for much, so I wanted to make a special cake for him. And Voila! This is the cake I created, and it is delicious.

Baking has more meaning when it is done out of love. If I was just making this cake for me, I wouldn’t be nearly as excited about making it. That is not to say that I wouldn’t enjoy the baking process, because I always geek out about baking.

What I really mean is that food is connecting, and when we make a special meal or dessert for someone we care about, the process is more fulfilling. When we choose to look outward and think about how we can give in the world of baking, it because an even more rewarding experience.

A quick note:
Can you use store bought caramel? Yes.
Will it be the same? NO.
If homemade caramel seems too intimidating for your baking experience, I totally get it. My recipe is super easy, but I get that not everyone has a desire to make homemade caramel.

The homemade sauce is completely worth it though! It’s so yummy that I eat it right out of the jar, and I feel no shame! Good caramel should always beckon you to come eat it!

Baker Street Breakdown

  • READ through all of the directions before beginning this cake. It’s not complex, but by doing a simple read-through, you can get a general overview and plan your time to bake.
  • MAKE the salted caramel sauce at least 1 hour before the cake is ready for frosting. This caramel sauce store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, so make it in advance if it makes your life easier!
  • USE Ghiradelli chocolate chips(or other high quality chocolate chips) or a high quality baking chocolate bar for the ganache frosting. I wouldn’t recommend generic or lower quality brands because it can affect the ganache’s overall quality and end product.
  • MAKE the ganache (chocolate and cream base for the frosting) 2 hours before it needs to be whipped. Ganache takes about 2 hours to set up at room temperature.
  • Ganache frosting can sit out at room temperature for 2 days. If you still have cake left over after 2 days, refrigerate it so the frosting doesn’t spoil!
  • If you want your cakes to bake flat, you can wrap wet strips of dishtowels around the pans to promote even baking. I often just cut the slight dome off of my cakes because it is easy, but do what works best for you!
  • If your cake is sitting in a warm room, the icing make droop a little, so stick it in a cool area or in the fridge until you need it.
Caramel, pecans, and ganache frosting on chocolate cake
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Triple Layer Chocolate Caramel Cake

tripe layer chocolate caramel cake
  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes + 2 hours rest time
  • Cook Time: 23 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 18 inch cake 1x

Ingredients

Scale

Cake Batter

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa (normal will work if you can’t find Dutch-processed)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 recipe salted caramel sauce, prepared at least 1 hour ahead
  • Chopped pecans (optional garnish)

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghiradelli is always first preference)
  • 12 oz. heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Flour and butter 3 – 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  3. Add milk, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla and mix on medium low just until ingredients come together. 
  4. Pour in hot boiling water while mixer is mixing on low. Cake batter will be thin, but that is how it should look. Scrape the bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula and mix on medium low for just a few seconds to make sure all ingredients are mixed. Do not mix for a prolonged period of time or the cake will be tough.
  5. Pour batter equally into the 3 prepared baking pans. There will be 2 cups plus a little extra batter in each pan.
  6. Bake for 18-23 minutes. Check cake with one of 2 methods. First, you can insert a toothpick in the middle and see if it comes out clean. If it comes out with cake batter or crumbs, it needs more time.
  7. The second method is easy. Gently touch the top of the cake with one finger. If the cake springs back and doesn’t leave a finger indentation, then it is ready.
  8. When cakes are done, transfer pans to cooling racks. Turn cakes out of pans after 10 minutes of cooling, and allow them to finish cooling on the wire racks.

For the Frosting:

  1. Pour chocolate chips/chunks into a medium bowl. Pour cream into a small pot and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Let chocolate and cream sit for 5 minutes so chocolate can fully melt.
  2. Gently whisk cream and chocolate together until it is smooth and silky. If you have any chocolate pieces remaining, you can strain the ganache into another bowl to remove the bits of chocolate. 
  3. Do NOT overwhisk the chocolate. Be gentle with it, and stop mixing once it is smooth. Let the ganache sit at room temperature for 2 hours until it sets up and is firm.
  4. Add butter, salt, and powdered sugar to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix until butter and sugar are mostly smooth. 
  5. Add chocolate ganache and whip on medium high for 2 minutes. The frosting will go from dark to light and fluffy when it is finished.

To Assemble the Cake:

  1. Make sure that all 3 cakes have been leveled if they had any doming on top. To cut the dome, use a serrated knife and gently slice the dome off.
  2. Place 1 cake round on your cake stand/plate, spread a thin layer (about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup) of salted caramel sauce on the cake, and then a slightly thicker layer of the chocolate frosting.
  3. Place 2nd cake round on next and repeat with caramel and frosting. 
  4. Place 3rd cake on top, spread on caramel, and then use the rest of the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. 
  5. Sprinkle with chopped pecans or almonds if desired, and drizzle with remaining caramel.
  6. Store at room temperature for 2 days, then in the fridge for up to 5 more days.

Keywords: Chocolate cake, chocolate caramel cake, chocolate ganache, triple layer cake, triple layer chocolate cake

 

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