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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. 2 stars
    The cake just didn’t rise much and I had the same outcome as a number of other folks shared here. The flavor of the cake is good as is the flavor of the frostings. I would suggest only making half-batches of both frostings as the recipe as written makes way too much for a single cake. Overall, it’s too sweet for my taste. A couple stars for the idea and the flavor, but I won’t be making this again.

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks so much for trying this cake and sharing your feedback. It is definitely on the dense side, to help with that you can add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Thanks again! xTieghan

  2. 1 star
    Every year for my daughter’s birthday she requests a spice cake. We both follow Half Baked Harvest and we both saw this recipe and knew this was the cake to make this year. The maple syrup never fully incorporated into the butter mixture. It was anything but light and fluffy. There was so much liquid to this cake that, I too, ended up with a heavy dense cake, barely rose and also had butter bubbles in the cake. The chocolate/sour cream filling in the middle was just odd. Having said that, the frosting was tasty.The brûlée bits were also yummy. Such a disappointment as the batter tasted good and the aroma while it baked was intoxicating. Seems others had the same issues . I am a very experienced baker with more than 30 years experience . I’m so sorry, but it is probably the worst cake I have ever made. ?

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your feedback. So sorry to hear it was not enjoyed! It is a denser cake, but you could always add 1/2 teaspoon more baking soda to help with that. Happy Birthday to your daughter! xT

    2. Not sure why maple syrup seems to be to go to sweetener vs sugar. Both are sugars. The liquid with the maple seems to be the death knell to “light and fluffy”. Baking = {some} science.

  3. 2 stars
    The icing on top of the cake and crunchy caramel bits were so delicious, which is why I added a star.
    The concept sounded so enticing, like a chocolate covered caramel apple. And while doesn’t love a good spice cake? The recipe was followed to a T and ended up having the same exact issues others had. The cake batter was really runny and the cakes ended up extremely dense 🙁 I’m not sure if the ingredients in the recipe are wrong or what, but this wasn’t it.

    1. Hi Angie,
      Thanks so much for trying this cake and sharing your feedback! While it is a denser cake, you can try adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and reducing the apple butter to 1/2 cup! I hope this helps! xx

  4. 3 stars
    I had the same issue regarding the butter and the maple syrup. They simply would not get “light and fluffy”. My professional Kitchen Aid worked hard and long to try to get the right lightness. My other recipes have all turned out, but this one was a disappointment.

    1. Hey there,
      Sorry to hear this! Thanks for trying the cake! You can try adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, but it is a denser cake:) xx

    1. Hi Chelsea,
      You can follow the recipe as written! I hope you love this cake, please let me know if you give it a try! xx

    1. Hi there,
      Sure, that will work, I would probably just skip the chocolate frosting part. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xT

  5. 2 stars
    This recipe looked so good, but I had the same issues as Kesha. My cakes ended up as dense, fudgy disks. So disappointing as I was very excited by the recipe. I followed the recipe and not sure what went wrong. I do love so many of the recipes on this site and was surprised as the outcome of this recipe .

    1. Hi Liesel,
      So sorry to hear you had some issues with this cake, thanks for making it! This cake is on the denser side, but adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and reducing the apple butter to 1/2 cup could help with that! I hope you have a great week! xTieghan

  6. 3 stars
    Let me start with, I am a baker. I was once a pastry chef. This recipe did not work for me. My butter would not cream with the maple syrup making the butter lumpy. I had way to much liquid. So my result was a flat dense cake with butter bubbles. I have made so many of your recipes and they are all AMAZING!! This is the first time I have had a problem. And I’m not quite sure what went wrong.

    1. Hi Keesha,
      Thanks for giving this recipe a try, so sorry to hear you had some issues! You could reduce the apple butter to 1/2 cup and then add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to help with this, but it is a denser cake. I hope this helps! xT

    2. B.S. If you were a pastry chef, you would have recognized long before your cooking failed that you needed to make adjustments and done so accordingly. No real chef or baker blindly follows a recipe without noticing immediately that something isn’t meshing, and fixing it before the dish is ruined.

      If you’re not sure what went wrong, you’re no chef.

    1. Hi Christina,
      If you just want to skip the chocolate frosting that would be fine for you to do! Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT

  7. Quick question – I am basically a lazy cook. Could I substitute something like Nutella for the chocolate icing in between the layers? Would that be too runny, you think? I guess I could just try it. I have the apple butter but may add some very small chopped apples to the “icing” or batter too. Photo of the cake looks yummy!

    1. Hey Donna,
      Sure, I don’t see why that wouldn’t work for you! I hope you love this cake, let me know if you try it out! xT

      1. Hi David,
        The measurements for the powdered sugar are correct:) Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT

        1. Tieghan, you still haven’t answered the key question that two people have asked, and I am asking again: when do you add the POWDERED SUGAR for the caramel glaze?

          1. 5 stars
            Steve, are you some kind of batshit insane narcissistic control freak? Are you not capable of figuring out the most basic thing yourself?

            Back the F off, bro. Seriously. You’re creeping people out.

    1. I have the same question. I assume it’s added to the stand mixer following the vanilla, but I’d definitely like clarification on that before I botch the frosting. 🙂

    2. Hi Emily,
      You are going to add the brown sugar in step 5. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xT

      1. You add the brown sugar in step 5, but when do you add the powdered sugar? Says to add vanilla in a stand mixer but nothing about the powdered sugar being added at the same time.

  8. Lovely.
    I cannot eat any ‘brown chocolate’ so will improv with White chocolate. Might add some chopped candied pecans to the top, too. I can imagine the glorious smell coming from the oven when baking.
    thanks T 🙂

    1. Hey Devon,
      You could certainly give it a try, but I would probably skip the chocolate frosting. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xx

      1. I made it in a bundt and baked it about 60 minutes to 75 minutes. Knife still came out a bit gooey but it was in for way too long. It was almost an undercooked banana bread consistency. Probably could have halved the icing recipe for the bundt. Regardless, I thought it was delicious and my husband took one bite and said “mm-hmm” so I will take that as a good sign!!

  9. This recipe sounds incredible! I’d love to make it, but apple butter is hard to find where I live. Would substituting apple sauce work, or should I have a go at making apple butter from scratch?

    1. Hey Kira,
      You could try using a very thick apple sauce and see how that works, otherwise my homemade recipe is pretty easy! I hope you love the cake! Happy Friday! xTieghan