This Chocolate Sheet Cake with Chocolate Caramel Frosting is decadent and the thing memories are made of. One bite and you’ll never think of chocolate cake the same way again. The combination of homemade caramel and chocolate ganache is pure magic!
I found the original recipe on Portuguese Girl Cooks (you know I’m always on the lookout for great new-to-me chocolate recipes) and this immediately captured my imagination. Jessica made a beautiful layer cake with a vanilla filling, and called it a Ding Dong cake. I wanted something a little easier to transport with the same rich flavor so I converted the recipe to a sheet cake. If you want a fancier dessert, check out Jessica’s version!
This cake is a riff on the recipe I love from Hershey’s, the same one I used in this Luscious Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce. In today’s version I added some chocolate extract to bump up the flavor a little more so it easily holds its own against the chocolate-caramel frosting.
The frosting is absolutely addicting for those of us who are caramel and chocolate lovers. It is packed with chocolate flavor with the nuances of caramel shining through. Truly a match made in baking heaven.
The frosting starts out deep brown but as you beat it, it lightens to a medium caramel color. This is a beautiful counterpoint to the very dark color of the cake itself. Just be sure it is fully chilled before beating. If it doesn’t lighten immediately, return it to the refrigerator to cool more.
This frosting is so good that I had trouble keeping myself from eating it by the spoonful, but as you can see, I resisted temptation long enough to get a beautiful layer of frosting on the cake – yea me!
I hope you enjoy this cake with the fabulous Chocolate Caramel Frosting. Happy Chocolate Monday my friends – have a fabulous week!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When making candies, clean-up can be a chore. As soon as you have poured the caramel out of the pan and over the chocolate, fill the pan about half full with water and put back on the heat. Bring to a boil to cook the sugar off the interior of the pan. This makes washing so much easier!
I used my favorite gluten-free flour blend, the same one I use to make loaves of bread, cookies, and other sweet treats. It is easy to keep a container of this blend on your counter or in the fridge, ready whenever you get the urge to bake!
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1-3/4 cups (210g) all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp chocolate extract
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 1 cup boiling water
- Chocolate Caramel Frosting
- 9 oz dark chocolate, chopped (66% to 70%)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure extract
- Prepare the Cake: Adjust oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper leaving two ends hanging over the edges (you can use the "sling" later when cutting and serving the cake). Lightly butter the parchment and set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Pulse on low until combined.
- Add the buttermilk, oil, eggs, chocolate extract and vanilla. Mix on low speed until combined. Scrape the bowl to be sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Add the boiling water and very carefully pulse the mixer (on and off) until the water is mixed in. Beat on low until the mixture is fully blended, about 1 minute. The batter will be very thin.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, gently drop the pan on the counter a couple of times to loosen any trapped air bubbles. Place in the hot oven and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs, 30 to 40 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Make the Chocolate Caramel Frosting: Place the chocolate in the bowl of your stand mixer and set next to the stove.
- In a heavy-bottomed light interior saucepan, with a tight-fitting lid, combine the sugar and water, and stir to combine. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally if the sugar is coloring unevenly. When the mixture is bubbling, put a lid on the pan and let the steam wash down the sides of the pan for a minute or two then remove. Heat until the sugar is evenly amber in color, swirling occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and very slowly add the heavy cream while whisking (use a large whisk). It will sputter and boil up and some of the caramel will harden, just keep whisking and any hard bits will melt again. If needed, return the pot to low heat and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Continue whisking until it is smooth and creamy.
- Pour the caramel over the chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes to start melting, then gently whisk in small circles, from the center outwards, until the chocolate is fully melted and the ganache is smooth with no streaks. Set in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes to completely cool and thicken it, stirring occasionally. Beat on medium-high in your stand mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times to be sure everything is incorporated and you don't wind up with streaks of darker frosting running through it when you get down to the bottom of the bowl.
- Finish the Cake: Once the cake has cooled and you've whipped the frosting, spread the frosting over the top of the cake. If desired, you can use the parchment sling to lift the whole cake out of the pan for easier cutting and serving.
- You can store the cake at room temperature for a couple of days or in the refrigerator, covered, for longer storage.
- Yield: Makes a 9x13-inch sheet cake or a 9-inch 2 layer cake; about 8 servings
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