This jaw-dropping cake will be one of the best desserts you eat all year. It starts off with an incredibly moist chocolate cake and is topped with a layer of salted caramel and a fluffy Nutella frosting.
Oh. My. Word. Those were the thoughts that were swirling around in my brain as soon as a I took a bite of this masterpiece. I love desserts and all, but there are very few concoctions that leave me speechless. This was one of them.
I have my daughter to thank for this particular cake. You see, she just turned 10, and this was the cake that she requested for her birthday. Many kids her age would have asked for something pink, something filled with sprinkles or a cake decorated like a unicorn. Not my girl. She and her dad brainstormed for a while before she decided that she wanted a chocolate Nutella caramel cake. This is a girl after my own heart.
I searched online for a cake that would tickle her fancy, and I found it. Turns out that my friend Jessica had the recipe! I’ve “known” Jessica for years, as we have been online friends (but have never met in person). I was so excited to try her recipe that I made this two days ahead of time and just let the cake sit in the refrigerator to meld all the flavors together.
And honestly, this was one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten in my life. The cake itself was moist and did not dry out after each day. The caramel layer was smooth, and the flecks of sea salt help cut down on the overall sweetness. And the frosting was so soft and fluffy that I could have eaten it right out of the mixing bowl (which I may or may not have done… SHHHH!). The funny thing is, that my husband said that the weakest part of the cake was the store-bought Ferrero Rocher candies on top!
This recipe is a rarity… meaning that all 3 of us gave this 5 out of 5 stars. My not-so-little birthday girl gave her 5-star rating first and was the most vocal about it. We enjoyed this cake for several days after my daughter’s birthday, and it still held up very well.
If you need a celebration cake, this is it!
Husband’s rating: 5 out of 5
Addie’s rating: 5 out of 5
My rating: 5 out of 5
Chocolate Nutella salted caramel cake
- 1 and ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk shaken
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt divided
Nutella cloud frosting
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 and ½ cups bittersweet chocolate melted and cooled
- ⅔ cup Nutella
- 2 Tablespoons milk of choice
- pinch of salt
Bake the cake
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Generously grease and line two 8" round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- In a glass measuring cup, mix together the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla and stir well.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the buttermilk mixture and mix well. The batter should be free of lumps. Slowly drizzle in the coffee. The batter will be very thin.
- Evenly distribute the batter into your two baking pans and bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about ten minutes before taking them out of the pans and allowing to cool fully on a wire rack.
Make the salted caramel
- In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, melt the sugar. Do not stir. Feel free to swirl the pan around to distribute the sugar. Once most of the sugar has dissolved, you can stir it gently with a silicone spatula. Allow the sugar to caramelize and turn an amber color.
- Remove the pan from the stove and add in the butter. Stir vigorously until the butter is fully incorporated. Then stir in the cream. The caramel may harden and clump up; if it does, put it back on the stove and allow the caramel to melt again while you stir. Once the caramel is smooth, sprinkle in about half of the salt and mix it to combine. Set aside. The caramel will set more as it cools so do not worry if it appears thin at this point.
Make the frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Then add the vanilla and mix well.
- Add the melted chocolate for another 1-2 minutes or until it's fully incorporated. Then add in the Nutella, milk and a pinch of salt. The frosting should be a lighter chocolate color and fluffy-looking. Set aside.
Assemble the cake
- Cut each cake into half. I used a serrated knife and made back and forth sawing motions in the middle of my cake. If there is a dome on the top of one or both layers, make sure you cut that off (eat the scraps!).
- On a cake plate or platter, place one of the cake layers, flat side down. Spread about ⅓ cup of the caramel sauce on top. Sprinkle on a few pieces of sea salt. Then top with frosting. You'll want to use an offset spatula to make sure you spread the frosting all the way to the edges of the cake. Top with another layer of cake and repeat.
- Once you get to the top layer of cake, top it with a layer, flat side UP. Top with a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Place it in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes to allow the crumb coat to set.
- Add a final layer of frosting onto the tops and sides of the cake. Decorate with additional frosting, shaved chocolate or hazelnut candies if desired.
- The cake may be made 1-2 days ahead and should be kept in the refrigerator.
I gave this recipe 1 star because it says specifically not to stir the sugar while melting it to make caramel. Seriously?! If you want extremely burnt sugar and terrible tasting caramel, then follow this recipe. Otherwise, look elsewhere!
Hi Alyssa – lots of caramel recipes ask you not to stir the sugar. Otherwise you are giving the sugar an opportunity to re-crystallize and clump together (which is what we are avoiding here). Once the sugar has melted and liquified, then you can gently stir.
Excellent! This was the perfect cake for my friend’s birthday. My only feedback is, was the caramel supposed to have some water mixed with the sugar? I tried making it as written, and the sugar wouldn’t completely melt without burning. I tried again and put 3 Tbsp of water in the pan with the sugar and it came out perfectly. Thanks for the yumminess!
Hi Margie! The caramel I made did not require sugar. Keep it on a medium heat and turn it down if the temperature is rising too quickly so it doesn’t burn. I’m glad it worked when you added the water!