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Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting – vanilla cake made with maple syrup, apple butter, and spiced apple cider. Each fluffy, sweet layer of cake is frosted with a rich, fudgy, chocolate frosting. A sweet and creamy layer of icing is then added with notes of caramel mixed throughout. Sooo much to love here! Every layer has the best apple flavor and just the right amount of chocolate and caramel. Kind of like a caramel apple cake!

Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting | halfbakedharvest.com

I just love an “old fashioned” style dessert. They’re the ones our grandmas would make. Something about an old-school recipe feels a little more special.

And while this cake isn’t probably the most old fashioned one out there, it has some elements to it that make it “old fashioned”.

Regardless, I love it, and it’s the perfect fall apple cake to celebrate the season!

Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting | halfbakedharvest.com

Here are the details, start with the cake

Start with the apple butter cake. I used my favorite butter cake recipe, but replaced the brown sugar with maple, added apple butter, and replaced the buttermilk with my favorite spiced apple cider. Thanks to the apple butter and apple cider there is so much apple flavor shining through.

Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting | halfbakedharvest.com

Start by beating together the wet ingredients: butter, sugar, vanilla, apple butter, and eggs. Then, add the dry: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Lastly, beat in the apple cider. Then bake away.

While I love my original butter cake recipe, I actually love this cake more. The flavor is so warming, rich, and sweet, but not too sweet. The notes of cinnamon and apple are so nice.

Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting | halfbakedharvest.com

The chocolate frosting

While the cake is cooling, you can start making the chocolate fudge frosting. Now, this really IS old school. It’s simply just melted chocolate chips and sour cream. I also added espresso powder, which really highlights the chocolate.

For having just three ingredients, this is the most magical frosting. Very creamy, rich, and fudgy. And I love that it’s not too sweet.

Spread the frosting over one layer of the cake. Add the top layer, then chill the cake while you make the brown sugar caramel icing.

Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting | halfbakedharvest.com

The brown sugar icing

Butter, brown sugar, and milk, are boiled down into a “caramel” before being whipped with powdered sugar.

When melted down, the brown sugar adds hints of warm molasses and really deepens the flavor to create an icing that’s perfectly rich and caramel-like. And when you add a touch of vanilla – so good. I highly recommend using more icing than you think your cake needs.

Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting | halfbakedharvest.com

Be sure to pour over the icing while it’s still warm, once it cools it will stiffen up.

This last step is optional but so good, the caramel brulée candy. Simply melt granulated sugar on the stove until it turns deep caramel in color, then spread the caramel out over a piece of parchment paper.

Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting | halfbakedharvest.com

Let sit for a few minutes and let the caramel harden. It can then be easily smashed into small shards for sprinkling over the cake.

This cake is delicious. Each bite is filled with sweet spiced apple, chocolate, and caramel. The best kind of autumn cake!

Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting | halfbakedharvest.com

Looking for other fall sweets? Here are a few ideas: 

Chocolate Chunk Chai Banana Bread

Vanilla Chai Pumpkin Cupcakes

Chai Spiced Maple Sugar Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting

Cinnamon Sugar Swirled Apple Butter Brea

Apple Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Butter Maple Icing

Lastly, if you make this Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 10
Calories Per Serving: 1286 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Chocolate Frosting

Brown Sugar Caramel Icing

Instructions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans and line with parchment paper. 
    2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and apple butter, beating until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stream in the apple cider, beating until just combined. Pour the batter among the 2 cake pans.
    3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the center is just set. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert the cake onto a plate, flip it back over onto a serving plate. Let cool.
    4. To make the chocolate frosting. Microwave the chocolate chips and a pinch of salt, stirring every 45 seconds, until melted. Stir in the sour cream and espresso, a dollop at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Swirl the frosting onto the top of the cake. Place the second cake layer on top. Run a knife around the side of the cake to clean up any frosting. Chill while you make the brown sugar frosting.
    5. To make the brown sugar icing. Melt together the butter, brown sugar, and cream in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Add a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat and add to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar vanilla. Beat until well combined. The icing should be glossy and pourable.
    6. Pour the icing over the cake, spreading around the sides of the cake too. The frosting will set quickly on the cake. If desired top with caramel pieces and/or sea salt. Slice, eat, and enjoy!!

Notes

Caramel Brulée: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium pot, cook 3/4 cup sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a heat-proof spatula until the sugar has melted and turns a golden caramel, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread in a thin, even layer and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Let sit 5 minutes. Once hardened, crush the caramel into small pieces/shards with the back of a spoon.
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Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting | halfbakedharvest.com

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I could not find apple butter all through the holidays but I just got a big jar and made this cake. It is fantastic. The cake is delicate and moist but stands up very well to the caramel frosting. What a treat! It’s all gone in a couple of days. So glad I have a big jar of apple butter – going to make it again right away! Thank you. ❤️

    1. Hey Stacy,
      Perfect!! I am delighted to hear that this recipe turned out well for you and thanks so much for trying it out! xx

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Tieghan! Can you make this as a sheet cake instead? I wasn’t sure if the cooking times might need to be adjusted? Excited to try it! 🙂

    1. Hey Liesl,
      Totally, a sheet cake would be delicious! I would just watch it towards the end, you will probably need to increase the bake time:) I hope you love this recipe! xT

    1. Hey Maria,
      Yes, that will work well for you! I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xx

      1. Hey Maria,
        Wonderful!! I appreciate you making this recipe and your comment, so glad to hear it was enjoyed! Have a great weekend:)

  3. 5 stars
    I made this and then read all the comments. First, my husband loved it just the way it is❤️. I agree with a previous comment, it’s better the second day, and the chocolate layer is great but doesn’t need to be added. Overall, the flavor is wonderful!

    1. Hey Rhonda,
      Happy Monday!!☃️ I truly appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your review, so glad it was enjoyed! xT

  4. 5 stars
    A very interesting and delicious cake. It taste better the next day imo. Very moist, and perfect for the holidays.

    In your blog you mentioned replacing brown sugar with maple syrup. What is the amount of maple syrup?

    1. Hey Yogi,
      Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks for giving it a try! Sorry, you can ignore that, it was a typo that I need to fix! Have a great weekend:)

  5. 5 stars
    This cake was fantastic😄 Wasn’t able to add the apple butter unfortunately but it still turned out absolutely delicious with the cinnamon and apple cider in there! I also couldn’t stop licking the frosting off of the bowl. Thank you!

    1. Hey Martha,
      Happy Thanksgiving!!🦃🍁 I am so glad to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks so much for making it! xT

  6. 4 stars
    I tried making this cake because it sounded so delicious but I’m not sure what I did wrong, when I poured the icing on top, the entire cake collapsed. Should the cake have chilled longer before adding the icing? Not sure if anyone else had the same issue.

    1. Hey Karolina,
      So sorry to hear you had issues with the icing!! Was the cake completely cooled? Was the chocolate part okay? I wonder why it did this for you! So sorry!! xx

  7. Can I do this as a bundt? I don’t have quite enough ingredients on hand for a two-layer and a one-layer cake feels a little sad, haha.

    1. Hi Abigail,
      Sure, I don’t see why not, you may just have to skip the chocolate frosting layer. Please let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan

  8. 3 stars
    I made this cake last night. The cake itself is delicious. I used 1/2 cup of apple butter and 1 tsp baking soda based on suggestions in the comments and it came out great. One was done at 25 min and the other at 30. The caramel icing is A LOT and very sweet. I also didn’t think the chocolate layer improved the cake, and I LOVE chocolate. Maybe a salty nutty (peanut butter?) layer would be more yummy in the middle. I want to make this cake again and play around with a different frosting.

    1. Hey Nicole,
      Thanks so much for making this cake and sharing your feedback! So glad to hear that the cake was enjoyed, sorry to hear you didn’t love the icing and frosting. Let me know if you give it another try! xT

    1. Hey Libbie,
      Yes, you should be able to use an equal amount of gluten free flour here! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xx

  9. I made the recipe, as written above! The caramel was delicious- I’d recommend sifting the powdered sugar first though. The cake came out light in texture and delicious in taste, and I didn’t use the maple syrup. I wanted to love the chocolate layer, but found it a bit overpowering for my taste. Great recipe- a nice challenge for a more novice baker like me!

    1. Hey Whitley,
      Happy Monday!! 🍁 Love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks a bunch for making it! Sorry you didn’t enjoy the chocolate! xT

  10. 5 stars
    I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out so delicious! This was a huge hit with my family and friends. I didn’t have a moisture problem with the batter, and my cakes were fully baked after 25 minutes. However, I do live in a dry climate in AZ so that may have an impact. This recipe is definitely worth trying!

  11. 5 stars
    Live in Toronto – made this as per recipe instructions (only change was 1tsp baking soda). Of note my apple butter is homemade and does not have a very wet consistency. Didn’t bother with the chocolate icing and it was delicious! The cake was moist, lightly flavoured and not very sweet. Contrast this with the sweet maple flavour icing it’s a great and unique cake flavour. As mentioned the icing is a glass icing and runs off cake – if you don’t like that I’d wait for icing to cool completely and thicken before icing cakes.

    I’d love to make these into cupcakes or a Bundt cake – anyone have cake bake time ideas for those pans? Cheers

    1. Hey Carly,
      Fantastic!! 🍁🍂 I am delighted to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks so much for making it and sharing your review! Sure, that should work, I would start checking for doneness at 25 minutes for the cupcakes! xT

  12. Hello, I have made several of your recipes and have loved them! But I just wanted to make you aware this recipe still says sugar but in the blog portion you say you substitute the sugar with maple syrup. Unfortunately I didn’t read the blog portion before making the cake and used sugar instead of maple syrup! It’s still cooling so I haven’t tasted it yet! I’m sure it will still taste great! Thanks for all the great recipes!

    1. Hi, can anyone answer this question… where to keep this cake after baking? I want to make it the day before Thanksgiving but don’t know if it needs to be kept refrigerated or not, sorry if I missed it in the blog or recipe but I didn’t see it.

      1. Hey Christina,
        You can keep the cake covered in an airtight container on the counter:) Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT