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Old School style Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting. Taking a step back into our grandma’s youth with this DELICIOUS butter cake. Picture a buttery vanilla cake layered with rich, fudgy, chocolate frosting in the center. Then topped with the most delectable, roll your eyes back good – brown sugar frosting that’s sweet and creamy with notes of caramel mixed throughout. Sooo much to love here! Every bite is sweet, salty, extra chocolatey, and truly delicious. The perfect cake to enjoy any day of the week, no “celebratory” reasons required.

overhead photo of Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

Taking it back to the old school days with this cake…or at least that’s what it feels like to me! Growing up my mom made cakes religiously. Come Friday night we’d have fresh baked cookies, cake, or some other kind of dessert on the counter without a doubt. She was the queen of the Friday night dessert.

No matter what the dessert was, we’d always eat them a little warm and gooey, just after baking. Oh, and always with a cold glass of milk. Baking in the kitchen with mom on Friday nights was such a special time. More times than not my brothers would be MIA, so it was just mom and me. My memories of those Friday nights are so fond and perfect. To this day, they are some of my favorites.

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting on first ayer of cake

My mom would often bake up a classic chocolate cake, it was everyone’s favorite. What she wouldn’t bake however was any kind of vanilla cake. They were just not her thing. But, my grandma on the other hand? She’d bake up any flavor of cake…chocolate or vanilla, it just had to be easy.

While I don’t remember the exact cakes my Nonnie would bake, this feels like something she would have happily made. Something about a vanilla butter cake, with a super easy (secret ingredient) chocolate frosting, and a sweet brown sugar icing overtop just feels “old school” to me.

Like something she might have found in one of her Better Homes and Garden Magazine’s back in the day. I can literally picture the torn-out magazine page now…

How many of you have super, super old magazine cutouts your mom gave you with recipes? Please cherish those FOREVER. I wish I had more of them!

Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting |

When my cousin, Maggie mentioned a butter cake yesterday, I was really curious about the idea. And then I got thinking and loved the idea of doing some kind of “old school” style cake.

So here we are!

And everyone? This cake is GOOD, and it’s even pretty easy.

close up photo of Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

Here are the details, start with the cake.

Start with the vanilla butter cake. I kind of based this off my tiramisu cake, but with a few adjustments. Either way, it’s easy…just beat the wet ingredients together, add the dry, and then beat in some buttermilk.

I always go heavy on the vanilla with my cakes. It’s KEY, so don’t skimp on it.

New! Old School style Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting. Every bite is sweet, salty, extra chocolatey, and truly delicious. Recipe:

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 some of the most magical frosting. Very creamy, rich, and fudgy. And I love that it’s not too sweet, but just sweet enough.

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

Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting |

Last thing…the brown sugar icing.

I stole this recipe from my chai cupcakes with brown sugar frosting. It’s the same recipe, only this is melted down into more of an icing/glaze…which yes, also feels very old school. 

The brown sugar melted down 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 and sea salt? Well, it’s hard to say no to a second piece. I highly recommend slathering on more icing than you think your cake needs.

Also, you’ll want to swirl on the icing while it’s still warm, once it cools it will stiffen up.

Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting |

To finish, I topped my cake with chocolate curls and sea salt for a salty-sweet finish.

And that’s it. Honestly, this cake is pretty simple to put together. There are three “steps”, but they’re all very easy. And so very good. Each bite is filled with sweet vanilla butter cake, fudgy chocolate frosting, and sweet caramel-like brown sugar icing.

Best kind of any day cake to bake, no reason required. Although it is my Dad’s birthday today…but he’s not big on celebrating it!

Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting with bite taken out of cake

Looking for other easy winter desserts? Here are some favorites:

Brown Butter Malted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Homemade Vegan Snickers

Salted Pretzel Magic Bars

Lastly, if you make this Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy 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!

Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 10
Calories Per Serving: 578 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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Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Brown Sugar frosting


  • 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, beating until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stream in the buttermilk, 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 frosting. 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. Sift in the powdered sugar, then add the vanilla. Beat until well combined. The frosting should be glossy and pourable. If it feels too runny, add powdered sugar to thicken it.
    6. Pour the frosting over the cake, spreading around the sides of the cake too. The frosting will set quickly on the cake. If desired top with chocolate curls and sea salt. Slice, eat, and enjoy!!


Storing: this cake keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Chocolate Frosting: adapted from Food 52.

Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting |

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  1. 5 stars
    We loved this cake! I just made it for our 7th wedding anniversary and will definitely make it again. Next time I’ll probably just make the butter cake with caramel frosting because it is very sweet. However, it’s absolutely delicious as is. The recipe makes so caramel so I saved the remainder for my coffee! I made it exactly as written too just for anyone’s information. I wish I could post a photo.
    Thank you for always having well worked out and delicious recipes!

  2. 5 stars
    i had never baked a cake from scratch before – i tried this one over the weekend and it was absolutely delicious! sweet, salty, fudgy – not nearly as pretty as yours but the cakes came out very flat and I was thankful I did not have to level them. i also decided to half the amount of the brown sugar frosting after reading some comments and it was the perfect amount! my mom was super impressed that i made it all by myself and it made her birthday extra special 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    One of the best cakes I’ve ever made! Wonderfully moist and delicious. Both frostings are to die for – the caramel frosting is totally addicting and super-sweet, and the chocolate frosting has a nice tang from the sour cream that balances the sweetness really nicely. Definitely recommend!

    1. Hey Natalie,
      I really appreciate you giving this recipe a try, I am thrilled that it was enjoyed! xxTieghan

  4. 5 stars
    The cake itself was tasty and easy to put together.
    The fudge layer was so easy to make and perfectly balanced with the addition of the espresso powder.
    The frosting was not the texture of a typical frosting, but was delicious and I was able to spread it up on the sides of the cake before it fully cooled.
    Sprinkle the top with some flakey sea salt and OMG. So rich and delicious.
    Highly recommend. Easy and tasty.

    1. Hey Kelsey,
      Awesome!! I am thrilled that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! xTieghan

  5. 4 stars
    I have to say…after making this cake, I am completely confused by a lot of the negative comments! I would make this cake again and everyone I fed it to, loved it!…even kiddos who can be the harshest critics of all. 🙂

    Cake batter: easy to make and was thicker than I thought, but it came out really nicely!
    Chocolate filling: so good! I did it with creme fraiche. I don’t live in the US, so finding good sour cream can be an issue. Perhaps that is why mine wasn’t overly tangy? I’m not sure, but it was perfect. I melted the chocolate in a double boiler and then took it off the heat when I mixed in the (cold) cream fraiche and espresso. That cooled it right down, but I waited 10 mins to put it on the cake…it was perfect.
    Frosting: I was worried about it, but it was amazing. I used her exact measurements and it came out with the perfect thickness to stay on the cake. Again, I waited 10 mins to put it on….but it was definitely still warm.

    I waited to frost the cake until it was fully cooled, put it in the fridge after the chocolate was on it (and while I made the frosting glaze) and I made it all the night before to allow the flavours to gel. I didn’t cut any of the sugar out…I don’t like overly sweet things, but for the first time making it I wanted to stick to the recipe. I though it was lovely and nicely balanced….not too sweet at all. It’s def old school, but that’s what I liked about it. I would love to experiment with the cake recipe and other frostings too!

    1. Hey there,
      I am so glad this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for making it! I also appreciate you sharing what worked well for you here:) xxTieghan

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