Vintage-inspired Swirled Caramel Sheet Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting. We’re taking a page from our grandma’s cookbooks and I’m adding a few of my own twists. Let’s kick the weekend off right with this absolutely delicious caramel-like butter sheet cake. Buttery vanilla cake swirled with the most delectable, roll your eyes back good, brown sugar and maple “caramel”. Top the cake off with a generous layer of rich, fudgy, chocolate frosting. Sooo much to love here, and simple to make too! Sweet, gooey, with notes of vanilla and caramel, and of course, plenty of chocolate!
In the past year or so I’ve rediscovered sheet cakes and become obsessed with them. I used to strictly make layer cakes. And while I still love a good layer cake, right now I’m embracing the simplicity of the classic sheet cake.
To me, sheet cakes feel very “old school” or vintage, which is something I love. I swear, our grandmas really did know best. Back then simple really meant SIMPLE.
No one thought twice about using a boxed cake mix, and frozen dinners were where it was at. I’m obviously not about frozen dinners, but I can definitely get behind an easy sheet cake recipe.
My Nonnie loved baking sheet cakes, so I’m channeling her today! No box mix though, this is all homemade.
And maybe just a little better than our grandmas used to make.
Here are the details, start with the cake
Start with the vanilla butter cake. This is pretty easy and straightforward, beat the wet ingredients together, add the dry, and then beat in some milk.
I always go heavy on the vanilla with my cakes. This is a vanilla cake after all, so the more vanilla the better, don’t skimp.
The “caramel” swirl
This isn’t really caramel, but I swear it’s better, and so much easier to make. Butter and brown sugar boiled together until thickened slightly. Then lots of vanilla and a little sea salt added in at the end.
The brown sugar melts down adding hints of warm molasses. It really deepens the flavor to create a very gooey sauce that’s perfectly rich and caramel-like. And when you add that splash of vanilla and a sprinkle of sea salt? Well, it really is delectable.
When the batter is made and the caramel is ready, layer the batter with the caramel, then use a butter knife to gently swirl the caramel throughout the cake. This doesn’t need to be perfect.
As the cake bakes up, the caramel melts down to the bottom and caramelizes around the edges. It creates a cake that’s almost gooey throughout with caramelized edges.
It’s different, but in a great way.
While the cake is cooling, you can start making the chocolate fudge frosting. It’s just simply three ingredients. Melted chocolate chips, sour cream, and I also added in some espresso powder, which really highlights the chocolate.
For having just three ingredients, this is one of the most magical frostings. Very creamy, rich, and fudgy. And I love that it’s not too sweet – but just sweet enough.
Frost the cooled cake, then top with chocolate curls.
There are three “steps” here, but they’re all very easy, and so very good. Each bite is filled with sweet vanilla butter cake, gooey caramel, and fudgy chocolate frosting. It’s a cake that just about all will love…there’s a little something for everyone!
Looking for other simple sheet cakes? Here are some favorites:
Retro-Style Chocolate Sheet Cake
Swirled Blackberry Lavender Sheet Cake
Easiest Coconut Banana Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting
Lastly, if you make this Swirled Caramel Sheet 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!
Swirled Caramel Sheet Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting
Calories Per Serving: 675 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
- 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/3 cups milk, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- sea salt
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/3 cups sour cream
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until 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 milk, beating until just combined. 3. To make the caramel. Melt together the butter, brown sugar, and maple in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook 4-5 minutes, until thickened slightly. Stir in the vanilla and salt. 4. Pour 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Drizzle half the caramel over the batter, then pour over the remaining batter (it will not cover the caramel fully). Then drizzle over the remaining caramel. Use a knife to lightly swirl the caramel around, don't over mix. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the center is just set. Let cool completely. 5. To make the chocolate frosting. Microwave the chocolate chips and a pinch of salt, stirring every 30 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. If desired top with chocolate. Slice, eat, and enjoy!!
View Recipe Comments
Storing: this cake keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Could you make this recipe in a full size sheet cake pan or only 13×9? Thanks!
You might need to double the recipe to get it to fit into a sheet pan:) Let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xT
What are your thoughts about trying this in a bundt cake pan?
Sorry, I haven’t tested that with this recipe, you might end up with a dense cake! If you can do the sheet cake, I would stick with that:) Let me know if you give the recipe a try! xT
I love this cake! Baking it for company tonight! I however don’t personally love the chocolate with it, so I do a brown butter glaze for the top and pour it on while warm. 🤤 super excited I haven’t made this cake since last summer. 😍
Happy Friday!! I appreciate you making this recipe and your feedback, I am thrilled that it turned out well for you! ☀️🍉
Can you freeze this cake?
Sure, that should be just fine for you to do! Please let me know if you have any other questions! xx
was wondering if you would serve this sheet cake with ice cream or whipped topping?
Totally up to you!! Let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xx
Would milk chocolate chips work instead? Abigail
Yes, that would work for you! I hope you love this recipe:) xT
The recipe was easy to follow and the end result was delicious! I will say I don’t think my caramel thickened as much as I thought it would so when I was drizzling it on the cake it felt like too much caramel so I didn’t end up using all of it when really I could have. Everyone enjoyed it that had it thinking the sour cream frosting was a nice touch to cut the sweetness.
I truly appreciate you giving this recipe a try and sharing your feedback, love to hear that it was enjoyed!❄️ xx
Super excited to make this today. How do you think gluten free flour will do? Do you have a recommendation for brand? LOVE your recipes!
Thanks so much Judy!! I would recommend using an equal amount of Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour, that should work well for you! I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xx
I want to make this recipe but into cupcakes. What temperature and time would be ideal for these in cupcake form?
I would keep the temperature the same and then just reduce your bake time and start checking for doneness at 25 minutes. I hope you love this recipe! xT
What’s the easiest way to make the chocolate curls for on top?
I like to just use a veggie peeler to get the chocolate curls. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT
The absolute best! This is my go-to cake, always such a hit. The flavors are all incredible. In fact, I am wondering if I can adapt this into a proper 2-tier birthday cake. Do you think it would work / any pointers if you were trying to do that? Thank you Tieghan!
Amazing!! I love to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks a bunch for trying it out:) I wouldn’t recommend this as a layer cake, the frosting is too soft. Here are some other layer cakes you might enjoy:
I hope this helps! xTieghan
Loved this recipe: had only one mishap while making the cake. The caramel layers sank straight to the bottom. Do you know why this occurred? Maybe it was because I moved the cake out of the baking dish to the cooling rack right after I took it out of the oven Should I have let it cool fully in the baking dish? Besides that, delicious and easy recipe.
Happy Wednesday!! Thanks a bunch for making this recipe and sharing your review, I love to hear that it was tasty! Sorry to hear about the caramel, yes next time try allowing it to cool in the baking sheet:)?
This is absolutely delicious!! So moist and the flavours come together so deliciously.
My husband despises sour cream frosting though (what a fool) and I’m wondering what would be alternative?
Happy Wednesday!! Thanks a bunch for making this recipe, I love to hear that it was enjoyed!! What about using greek yogurt in place of the sour cream, would he be okay with that?? xTieghan
Love love love this cake, so satisfying and delish. Moist inside and I found the sour cream frosting helped add a little tartiness to counteract the sweetness. I had guests reaching for second slices was such a hit, thank you!!
Happy Sunday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! xTieghan
I agree! The sour cream frosting adds to the cake in a great way!