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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. 5 stars
    Oh My Goodness..this cake was awesome. I used 1/2 c of sour cream in the fudge as well as an extra 1/2 c of powder sugar for the frosting. Huge win…my family loved it.

    1. Hi Kathleen,
      Happy Monday!!🌴 I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your comment, so glad to hear it turned out well for you! xT

    1. Hi Teresa,
      You might have to skip the fudge layer, but that should work well for you! Let me know if you have any other questions! xT

    1. Hey Tahniat,
      So sorry, I’ve not tested this recipe without buttermilk, you could certainly try whole milk to see how that works! Let me know how this recipe turns out! xx

  2. Hi! What chocolate do you use for the curls on top and what is the best way to curl the chocolate?

    Thank you can’t wait to make it! I have made so many of your recipes and some over and over.

    1. Hey Sandy,
      I like to use Chocolove bars and I use a veggie peeler to get the curls. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT

    1. Hey Kristi,
      So sorry, I’ve not tested this, so I can’t say for sure what the results would be. Let me know if you give this recipe a try! xx

  3. Hi! Any tips on how to get the brown sugar frosting the right consistency so it does not run right off the cake? Should I let the icing cool completely or let the cake cool completely?

    1. Hey Monica,
      Yes, definitely let the cake cool completely and then add more powdered sugar to the frosting as needed. I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any other questions! xx

  4. 4 stars
    Would be great if we could see a video of the consistency of the caramel icing. I feel like mine is too runny and won’t stick to the sides! Thanks!

    1. Hey Gael,
      Thanks for giving the recipe a try, I do have a video on Instagram but you will have to scroll down a bit to find it. The icing should be thick like a typical cake frosting. I hope this helps! Thanks again!! xx

  5. Hi! Can’t wait to try this recipe, it looks amazing! Do you think it (the cake part) would work with flax egg in place of regular eggs?
    Thank you!

    1. Hey Noelle,
      So sorry, I have not tested that so I am not sure how well it would work for you but you could certainly give it a try! Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love the recipe! xT

  6. I want to start by mentioning that I make at least 2 of your recipes a week and I always hear from my family “this is a keeper” so thank you for helping bring new ideas to our table!! My question for this cake is does it need to be refrigerated? Or can it be left at room temp for a while? I’ll be making this but need to travel with it and was unsure if it can withstand not being chilled.

    1. Hey there,
      Thanks so much for your kind message and making so many recipes!! Yes, this will be okay for you to travel with:) I hope you love the recipe, let me know how it turns out! xx

  7. I love this recipe and make it all the time! What would be the best replacement for the sour cream in the chocolate filling? I’m out lol

    1. Hi Ashley,
      Greek yogurt will also work well in place of the sour cream. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT

  8. 4 stars
    This cake was easy to make! Definitely add extra vanilla. I also added a vanilla bean to the brown sugar frosting.

    The only thing I didn’t love is the chocolate fudge centre. It’s a bit too “sour” tasting for me rather than sweet! I tried adding some icing sugar too but I think next time id use a classic fudge frosting.

    1. Hi Jessie,
      Thanks so much for your feedback and trying this recipe out! I love to hear that it was a hit:) Have the best weekend?

  9. Would I be able to make the frostings the day before I bake the cake and microwave the next day to soften?

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      You could certainly make it the day before, but I would definitely not microwave it, just allow it to sit at room temp until softened. Please let me know if you have any other questions!! xx

    1. Hi Emily,
      Sure, that will work well for you. I hope this recipe turns out amazing, please let me know if you give it a try! xx

  10. I don’t consider myself much of a baker but this cake turned out perfectly and was SO yummy!!

    1. Hey Michelle,
      Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it!! Have a great week:) xxT

    1. Hi Genia,
      I dip and sweep:) Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love the recipe! xTieghan