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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. 1 star
    I was so excited to make this cake. Unfortunately, I will never make it again. The frosted just continued to slide of the cake. I made the cake part the day before, so it was cooled. The frosting just leaked all over my counter when it was in my cake container/holder. I placed in fridge hoping it would stop, but no it just continue to leak/drip frosting all over my shelves in the fridge. So disappointed

    1. Hi Breah,
      Thanks so much for trying this cake, I’m so sorry you had issues with the frosting! Did you allow the frosting to boil for 2 minutes? It sounds like it wasn’t cooked long enough. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with! xT

    1. Hi Beth,
      So sorry to hear this recipe didn’t turn out well for you, I can promise you I tested the cake several times before sharing. Was there anything you may have adjusted? Were any of your ingredients expired? You can add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to see if that helps! xT

  2. 2 stars
    I followed the advice in the comments and reduced the apple butter and added baking soda, and this cake still did not rise. Now I’ve got two dense, chewy rounds of… something, and I’m out a bunch of ingredients I was really excited about using. Pretty sure there’s just TOO MUCH WET going into the batter – if I was going to try it again I’d lose the cider for sure. The flavors are great it’s just not cake.

    1. Hi Kaly,
      Thanks for giving this cake a try! So sorry to hear it didn’t workout for you. Please let me know if there is anything that I can help with! xT

    2. I had the same experience. Way too much liquid in this recipe. I used good baking powder (even tested it) and it was so wet I had to throw it out. Sad because I was excited to try it.

  3. Just made this & seems like I have a lot of additional caramel frosting, what are people doing with their leftovers? Does it keep well?

    1. Hi Klarissa,
      Thanks so much for making this recipe! Hmmm, you could use the extra frosting for apples:) Happy Friday! xT

  4. I made this cake for my coworkers. Everyone loved the cake part (said it was very moist but not in a bad way) and everyone loved the brown sugar icing! The chocolate in the middle was hit and miss. Some people loved it and some people suggested using cream cheese or buttercream instead. I’m gluten & dairy free so I wasn’t able to personally try it but I enjoyed baking it and overall felt like it was a big hit at work!

    1. Hey Tiffany,
      Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks so much for making it and sharing your review! xT

  5. This cake has been getting such a bad rap, I thought I’d weigh in. I made this over the weekend for a dinner party, and was really nervous given all the comments and how many sticks of butter would be sacrificed to the attempt. I’m also not a baker. Like, at all. I used Tieghan’s suggestion of baking soda and less apple butter, and I have to say, we all really loved it. Like, really, really loved it. My 10-year-old and his friend said – direct quote – “Please make this cake all the time.” I can see how some would think the chocolate frosting was out of place, but I actually thought it kind of gave it a little unique kick, otherwise the apple might get too one-note. So there are my two cents!

    1. Hey Courtney,
      Awe, thanks so much for sharing your feedback and giving this cake a try! I’m so glad it worked out for you and your son and his friend loved it as well! I hope you’re having a great week! xT

    1. Hi Danielle,
      I would just make the recipe and keep in an airtight container on the counter. I hope you love the cake, please let me know if you give it a try! xx

  6. I made this for family over the weekend and I misread the recipe and put the chocolate frosting all over the cake and drizzled the caramel frosting over it. There would be way to much chocolate to only frost in between layers so I think it was a good mistake, but my family loved the caramel frosting and thought the choclate was a little out of place. Maybe because I added it everywhere! Next time I will either leave off the chocolate or frost with caramel and use a thinner chocolate and drizzle it over the caramel. But it was still a hit. Does need baking soda because there are so many acidic ingredients in the batter. I was surprised it wasn’t part of the recipe. I have a photo that I could share but don’t see how to add it!

    1. Hi Becky,
      Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks for making it! sorry for any confusion on the chocolate frosting, but glad it turned out. We don’t allow photos to be posted here:) xx

  7. 3 stars
    Lol so many people say the chocolate frosting was too tangy for them, but everyone at my house LOVED the chocolate frosting and it was so easy to make we are definitely using it again in the future for everything. The cake was delicious, but ours came out very dense and so moist it was almost like a cake-flan. The batter was extremely liquidy. The flavors were very good, I might just try to tweak the cake consistency somehow next time.

    1. Hi Terry,
      Thanks so much for trying this cake and sharing your review! I’m glad you all enjoyed the chocolate frosting. For the cake, I would try adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and reducing the apple butter to 1/2 cup, that should help! xTieghan

      1. 3 stars
        Any reason why my cake was extremely dense. Almost like a fudge?

        Loved the frosting and flavor. Not
        Sure where I went wrong

        1. Hey Jordan!
          Sorry about that! This is a dense cake…you can use 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and reduce the apple butter to 1/2 cup for a less dense cake!

  8. Just made this cake tonight. Mixed reviews. LOVED the caramel frosting on top. But my cake didn’t rise very much. Maybe I undercooked it? It doesn’t look the photos. And I agree with the other comments about the chocolate frosting—too tangy. My family scraped the chocolate out. Loved the caramel brulee pieces on top! Totally recommend that; great crunch. I’d say this recipe is a work in progress at our house.

    1. Hi Dana,
      Happy Monday! Thanks a lot for giving this recipe a try and sharing what worked well for you! Sorry to hear you didn’t love the frosting. This is a dense cake but you could try adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to see if that helps! xTieghan

  9. 4 stars
    I was concerned I had done something wrong when I couldn’t get the butter and maple syrup to combine to be light and fluffy but I soldiered on. At the end it seemed to come together well. While the cake is on the denser side and I would definitely switch out the chocolate sour cream frosting for a ganache, the taste is good and the cake is moist. The caramel icing was a bit too sweet for me but my husband loved it. Everything considered I’m glad I made this cake and the fall flavors were perfect.

    1. Hi Ann Marie,
      Happy Monday!! I truly appreciate you trying this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad it was enjoyed! xx

  10. This was delicious, but next time I would use a chocolate ganache filling instead of the recipe as the tartness of the sour cream wasn’t a perfect compliment even though it was really good on its own. The icing was totally soupy but that didn’t stop us from devouring it. Next time I’ll try 3/4 of the heated mixture with 3 cups powdered sugar. (I love frosting, but I think adding more powdered sugar would be too much). Great fall flavors, thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hey Bethany,
      Thanks a lot for trying this cake and sharing your feedback and what worked well for you! I appreciate you making it! xTieghan

  11. 4 stars
    The cake is dense, it doesn’t rise a ton but we found it to be very moist so it wasn’t a problem. I do agree the chocolate filling is a tad too tangy but overall the recipe worked well for us, maybe just not quite as everyone else expected (the butter and syrup didn’t cream together nicely so I used a balloon whip for the rest of the cake ingredients to try to incorporate everything well). My son and husband aren’t really into spice cakes and they loved it!

    1. Hi Ashley,
      Thanks so much for making this cake and sharing your feedback! I’m glad to hear it was enjoyed overall:) Happy Monday! xx

  12. I read all the reviews, including the helpful feedback from Tieghan to add a 1/2 t of baking soda if I want a less dense cake, and less apple butter. I just have to try this: moist cake, apple flavoring, caramel icing, and fudge frosting in the middle! For those of us who don’t believe dessert isn’t dessert without chocolate, this recipe must be tried. I’m still giving it a go.

    1. Hi Becky,
      Thanks so much! Let me know if you give the cake a try and anything that works well for you:) Happy Monday! xT

  13. I did not like the taste of this cake. It was too much apple cider giving it a tart taste. The caramel frosting was delicious but did not go well with this cake. I also had a hard time finding the apple butter. Found it at Whole Foods. I probably will not make this cake again

    1. Hi Gayle,
      Thanks for sharing your feedback and giving this cake a try, so sorry to hear you didn’t like it. Please let me know if I can answer any questions! xT