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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: 809 kcal

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


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.
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Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting |

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  1. My 12 year old daughter picked this recipe as the first cake she made alone, and it was delicious! She wasn’t sure about the sour cream/chocolate after reading comments, so she made a chocolate ganache for the center instead. The cake is very flavorful with a perfect texture, the caramel frosting adds a great flavor, and ganache is a yummy option for anyone who doesn’t want the tang of sour cream.

    1. Hey Christy,
      Aww, that is so awesome!! Love that she picked this cake to make, it’s definitely not an easy one! So glad to hear it was enjoyed! xT

  2. Hi Tieghan! I am making this cake ahead this week for a birthday party on Saturday morning. Any tips on how to best go about that? I’m wondering if making the cakes first would be best, then frostings the day of. Would refrigerating the cakes suffice, or might freezing them be best? Any thoughts are appreciated!

    1. Hi Vanessa,
      I would go ahead and make the cakes and freeze them and then thaw and frost them the day of:) I hope you love this recipe! xT

  3. 5 stars
    I made this with milk chocolate for the center of the cake. It was delish!!!!

    I am just curious as to why you use salted butter?

    1. Hi Chippy,
      Thanks so much for trying this recipe, so glad it was enjoyed! I personally always use salted butter, I think it adds so much more flavor:) Xx

  4. Do I need to wait for the chocolate to cool (after melting) before adding it to the sour cream? And for the butter/brown sugar mixture before adding to the buttercream?

    1. Hi Margot,
      No need to wait for the chocolate to cool and same with the butter/brown sugar mixture:) I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xT

  5. I tried the fudge frosting recipe and felt it tasted too sour (assuming from using sour cream). Can I substitute the sour cream with a full fat vanilla yogurt? Or, is there something else you recommend? Or direct me to another chocolate fudge frosting recipe? I’m trying to replicate a German chocolate cake from my childhood. I have the cake and pecan mixture nailed down. I’m now need to find a good fudge frosting.

    1. Hi there! I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy this recipe! I personally haven’t tried this with yogurt so I can’t say for sure!

  6. 5 stars
    I’m glad I read the comments before and made my own chocolate icing for the center, but holy moly. The rest of this recipe is amazingggggg. I brought it to wine night which is where i bring most of my baking and they loved it! It got moved up to the best thing I’ve ever brought on their list. the batter was so easy compared to some other cake recipes. The brown sugar icing was to die for. Easily my favorite icing i’ve ever made!

    1. Hey Alysia,
      Happy Wednesday!! 🍉🍓 Thanks a bunch for testing out this recipe, I’m so glad to hear that it turned out well for you! xT

  7. 4 stars
    Made this for Easter. Because of the comments about the sour cream chocolate frosting not being super well received, I just used a regular chocolate frosting instead. It was DELICIOUS and everyone loved it! Thank you!

    1. Hey Kelsey,
      Happy Monday!!🌞 I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad to hear that it turned out well for you! xx

  8. 3 stars
    I absolutely LOVE everything that I’ve made from you, and I even hate giving this such a low rating. 🙁 I’m wondering if maybe this recipe calls for a certain type of Espresso powder, or maybe a certain brand of chocolate? We had a great laugh while attempting to eat my husband’s birthday cake. We had guests over and the amount of bragging my family does over my baking just made the experience so funny because the type of chocolate/espresso powder I used just didn’t go well at all with the rest of the cake.

    1. Hi Crystal,
      Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your feedback!! So sorry to hear it wasn’t enjoyed, especially for your husband’s birthday! I think a lot of people didn’t like the chocolate/sour cream mixture. I feel like it’s a really distinct taste. Could that be it? Any espresso powder should be just fine to use here! Again, so sorry! xx

  9. Hi Tieghan! Made this cake last weekend–excellent.

    Wanting to use the cake recipe (without filling) to make cupcakes fir a party. How many cupcakes woukd this recipe yield? Thanks!

    1. Hey Nicole,
      Thanks so much for making this cake, so glad it was a hit! So sorry, I’ve never tested this recipe as cupcakes, so I’m not sure the exact amount it would make, I would say at least 24. xx

  10. 3 stars
    Ive had better from HBH , this was a dense cake with a weird chocolate center the sour cream over powered the chocolate and I used Guittard so that was a waste of good chocolate and I was expecting more of a caramel taste. If you make this cut back on amount of icing it made way too much for 2 -8” layers .

    1. Hi Tracey,
      Thanks for giving this cake a try and sharing your feedback, so sorry to hear it was not enjoyed. Please let me know if there is anything that I can help with! xx

    1. Hi Christina,
      Amazing!! Love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks so much for making it! xx

  11. 3 stars
    Recipe was easy to follow and generally pretty good. But the sour cream chocolate layer just didn’t mesh well with the rest of the flavor. I tend to like bitter/sweet combinations, but this ended up tasting a bit bizarre.

    1. Hi Rachel,
      Thanks for giving this recipe a try and sharing your feedback, sorry to hear it was not enjoyed. Please let me know if there is anything that I can help with! xx