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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
    So I have made the HBH caramel butter cake with chocolate frosting multiple times and this is similar so I wanted to try it out since it is the same idea but apple flavored cake.
    Given all the prior bad reviews about consistency of the cake I compared the two recipes to see the differences as the other one always turns out great.

    The major differences in that recipe and this one are this recipe:

    – reduces the flour by 1/2 cup
    – adds a cup of apple butter
    – switches maple syrup for brown sugar and decreases the amount of sugar
    – increases the baking powder from 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons and gets rid of baking soda
    – adds cinnamon
    – switches buttermilk for apple cider

    Given this and the reviews it looks like the major problem going on here are:
    – the reduction in flour and addition of apple butter gives the cake much more moisture and less rise- you can also see in the instagram video for this, it is a thinner denser cake.
    – The reduction in fat and protein from removing the buttermilk and decreasing the acidity from the buttermilk (the acid helps to make a more tender crumb/lighter cake)
    – trying to cream butter and maple syrup which just won’t work – the sugar granules help to add air to the butter (the entire reason for creaming) which makes a lighter cake
    – another note: Teigen lives likely at a higher altitude than most people (colorado mountains somewhere likely 5-8k ft above sea level). In higher altitude baked goods rise more easily and lose moisture faster so what works for her as far a moisture in the cake and rising agents may not work for you. I am a little baffled this is never addressed in the blog TBH..

    To fix this I tried to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by decreasing the apple cider to 1 1/4 cup and the apple butter to 3/4 cup and increasing the flour by 1/2 cup. This evened out the dry to wet ingredient ratio to that of her other cake recipe. I am baking ~5k ft above sea level similar to Colorado

    Well still didn’t work… came out a very dense wet cake. Amazing flavor but the texture was not something I would want to serve people. Almost bread pudding like in texture. I am guessing the problem has to do with adding straight up apple cider to the cake and the water content in that being a problem.

    I agree with a prior reviewer- I would take this recipe down until maybe it is tested a few more times and fixed given none of the current reviewers were able to make it work.

  2. Ugh. Such a bummer. I went out this morning and purchased the ingredients (had to go to three stores to find apple butter) and planned on bringing this cake to a fall party this afternoon. Unfortunately, I had the same issues that every single review mentioned. And yes, butter and maple syrup were very much room temperature. Living thirty minutes from the nearest grocery store means I’ll now have to spend another hour in the car for my second trip to the store and will have to bring something pre-made to the party. So frustrating and disappointing. This recipe should probably be removed as it does not seem like any one has had any success with it.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      I am so sorry you had trouble with this cake. I don’t know why this is happening. I took a look at the recipe, maybe you are having trouble with creaming the butter. If you want to try again, I would cream the butter with 1 cup of granulated sugar. That could fix the issue for you. The cake should have risen no matter what. Have you checked to see if your baking soda is fresh? Were there any changes you made or an ingredient you possibly left out? Hoping I can help you! Again so sorry for the trouble! Also, I have been reading the reviews, and people have enjoyed and had success with this cake so it does work:) xT

  3. 1 star
    Had the same problems as the other commenters. Butter and syrup were at room temp but would not cream (and I tried for a long time). Cakes didn’t rise at all and were a weird wet texture. I was going to try and save it to use in some other form but I thought the taste and texture was just too strange. I didn’t attempt to make the chocolate or frosting since I ended up just throwing it out. I wish I would have read the comments before decided to make this for my daughter’s first birthday. I had to end up making a whole other cake at the last minute.

    1. Hi Paige!
      I am so sorry you had trouble with this cake. I don’t know why this is happening. I took a look at the recipe, maybe you are having trouble with creaming the butter. If you want to try again, I would cream the butter with 1 cup of granulated sugar. That could fix the issue for you. The cake should have risen no matter what. Have you checked to see if your baking soda is fresh? Were there any changes you made or an ingredient you possibly left out? Hoping I can help you! Again so sorry for the trouble! xT

  4. 3 stars
    Oh darn, my cakes came out pudding consistency as well, checked temp and it was 200F so technically done. They smelled and tasted delicious but I was going to use this as a birthday cake. My husband wanted pie and I thought this would be a good compromise. Alas, my daughter loves the cake so I’ll save her a piece and make an apple pie instead. 🙂

    1. Hi Kathleen,
      Thanks for giving this recipe a try, sorry to hear it did not have the right consistency. Lol glad your daughter enjoyed the cake! xT

  5. 3 stars
    Ahh, I wanted to like this so much! But sadly, it just didn’t work for me. The cake turned out almost like a dense pudding cake, with minimal rise. And as it cooled, cracks formed everywhere. The liquid content just seemed so much in the batter. Also, the caramel sauce on top was too pourable. Runny basically. I added more powdered sugar to try to thicken, but it didn’t do the trick and as a result, came out too sweet. Man, I am so disappointed as I think all the flavors are there but mine looked nothing like the photos! Love a lot of your recipes, but will just have to pass on this one!

    1. Hi Theresa,
      So sorry to hear this cake did not workout for you, thanks so much for making it! I think the liquid could be reduced by only using 1/2 cup of apple butter and then adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda might help, but this is a dense cake. Again, so sorry! xT

  6. 2 stars
    Cake didn’t rise nor set; way too much liquid. Butter and maple didn’t cream. I’d use maybe 1/8 cup maple syrup or brown sugar. Way way way too much liquid. An expensive waste (and waste of time especially making the apple butter)

    1. Hi Andrea,
      Thanks for giving this recipe a try, so sorry to hear it didn’t work for you. I would say that it’s important for the butter and maple to be room temp. For less liquid, I would reduce the apple butter to 1/2 cup. I hope this helps! xx

      1. Also wanted to mention butter was at room temp but not maple syrup (would be crucial to include this in instructions). And, caramel frosting was +++ liquid and spilled everywhere. Cake did not absorb it. Lastly, for the crème bruleee- white or brown sugar? Instructions don’t say

  7. 3 stars
    The maple syrup and butter did not cream well. Which resulted the cake turning out in a steamed pudding consistency. Possibly could have been a little to much ‘liquid’ ratio, which added to that. The whole family said that the sour cream did not fit well with the chocolate filling, but the caramel icing was perfect. I would make this cake again, but definitely make adjustments to the cake method, so it comes out more ‘sponge’ like.

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks for making this recipe and sharing your feedback, sorry to hear it wasn’t loved. Was your butter at room temp and same with the maple syrup? That really helps them to whip and it takes a few minutes with the electric mixer. I hope this helps for next time! xx

  8. Hi! I made this cake but the cake came out very dense, almost like a cheese cake consistency. What did I do wrong?

    1. Hey Lori,
      Thanks so much for making this recipe, it is a dense cake, you can try adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda next time! I hope this helps! xx

  9. 4 stars
    Hi! I love your recipes and decided to try my hand at this dessert and it came out delicious ! However, wanted to know how you got the cake to look so pretty and put together. When I poured the icing at the end , my cake totally crumbled with the moisture , but it still came out delicious. Just wanted a tip on how to perfect presentation, thank you !

    1. Hey Victoria,
      Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try, so glad you enjoyed the flavors. Did you allow the cake to fully cool, I would say that is key for pouring the caramel icing. I hope this helps! xx

    1. Hi Amirah,
      So sorry, I have not tested that with this recipe, so I’m not sure how well that would work for you! Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xx

      1. 5 stars
        This cake was amazing!!! I made it for my daughters birthday party and everyone loved it! As others mentioned, it is a denser cake, but everyone loved the texture since it was so flavorful and moist. I would also say that it’s very important to use an electronic mixer. I did everything by hand and had to have my husband help me out, I could not have mixed everything on my own, especially the butter and maple syrup. Overall, I’d definitely make again. This cake was perfect for fall and soooo yummy.

        1. Hey Chloe,
          Happy Sunday! I am delighted to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! xTieghan

  10. Could I substitute apple sauce for the apple butter? I cannot find apple butter at my local grocery store!

    1. Hi Michaela,
      I would make sure it is a thick apple sauce and probably reduce to about 1/2 cup. I hope this recipe turns out well for you, let me know if you give it a try! xT

  11. Tieghan! I need to make this type of recipe into muffins/cupcakes for about 30 people. Will this recipe work in that format or do you have a different one available for cupcakes that celebrate apple/maple/caramel, etc.? I’d love to hear from you as soon as possible. Thank you in advance!

  12. 3 stars
    Cake didn’t rise but it didn’t feel heavy or dense. It was a bit sweeter than I like. Was certainly good pretty when you cut in and the Carmel icing was yummy!

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks so much for trying this recipe! I’m glad to hear the flavor was enjoyed! Try adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda! xxT

    1. Hi Deanna,
      Thanks for trying this cake, so sorry to hear it was not enjoyed. It is a denser cake. Is there anything that I can help with? xx

  13. 2 stars
    Could not get the maple syrup to cream into the butter. Kept separating. Cake did not rise very much. My cake is very heavy and lots of moisture seeping out after it has been frosted. Frosting kept sliding off of the cake. Flavor is very good but not happy about the moisture on the plate.

    1. Hi Vickie,
      Thanks for trying this recipe and sharing your feedback. So sorry to hear you had some issues. Was there anything you may have adjusted in the recipe? Did you use an electric mixer for the maple and butter? It takes some time to cream together. Let me know how I can help! xx