Home RecipesLayer Cakes Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Banana Layer Cake

Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Banana Layer Cake

by Haley
Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Banana Layer Cake - Flour Covered Apron

A six-inch banana layer cake frosted with dark chocolate ganache and drizzled with homemade caramel sauce. Topped with flaky sea salt, dark chocolate buttercream, and banana chips.

Hello from Kansas City!! Hope you had a lovely holiday weekend and a Merry Christmas, if you celebrate. For the last several days, we’ve been visiting my husband’s hometown of Kansas City, Missouri and it’s been a wonderful time. Plenty of relaxation, family time, white elephant gift exchanges, and of course… more holiday desserts than you could hope for! My mother-in-law is gracious in letting me take over her kitchen whenever we are here (though in reality, I am pretty sure she prefers it that way ;)). 

Several members of the family have been putting in Christmas dessert requests since about August. So, it was fun to finally be together and return to some of my favorite recipes from the year, like this Moose Tracks Ice Cream Cake. Of course, I also tried out a couple new recipes on everyone too, and I can’t wait to share them with you soon.

Homemade caramel sauce drip with flaky sea salt

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But first, before 2017 comes to an end, I need to tell you about this dark chocolate and salted caramel banana layer cake!! I figured we should go out with a bang, and this recipe has become somewhat of a signature of mine over the past year. Funnily enough though, I had never even had banana cake until this year. It doesn’t seem to be a very well-known flavor, and I can’t figure out why! I mean, it’s basically banana bread with frosting (and in this case, salted caramel too). In other words… it’s totally delicious!

The specific flavor combination for this recipe came about when a colleague asked me to bake a banana layer cake for the team. Never having eaten banana cake, I was intrigued. But I had a pretty good idea of what goes with bananas, so I provided a list of frosting choices and a list of glaze choices and told him to pick one from each column. He chose dark chocolate ganache frosting and a salted caramel drip, and I’ll admit… I was a worried about how the cake would turn out from an aesthetic perspective. I just didn’t think the caramel would look good on such a dark background.

Banana chips are the perfect garnish for this dark chocolate and caramel banana layer cakeBut it turns out I was wrong, because I absolutely love the look of this cake! I think the dark background is perfectly dramatic and the caramel still comes out looking like liquid gold. Actually, I love this banana layer cake so much that for one reason or another, I’ve baked this cake at least once a month for the past 6 months.

Which means… I’ve had lots of room for experimentation, so I’ve attempted the caramel drip several different ways. Spoiler alert: nothing beats homemade – surprise, surprise! You can give any or all of these methods a try and see for yourself, but here are my findings:

  1. First, I tried store-bought caramel sauce. It was too thin and translucent-looking for this cake.
  2. On the other hand, when I melted caramel candies with a little bit of heavy cream, it was very thick and difficult to work with. If you can work quickly, I do think it looks really nice, but it was definitely the most temperamental method.
  3. And finally… to me, this homemade salted caramel sauce was the perfect balance: it’s both a lovely deep amber color, and also easy to work with. It drips all the way down the sides, but it doesn’t slide right off the cake. It’s just right!

A slice of a triple layer banana cake with dark chocolate ganache frosting

What with the caramel, ganache frosting, dark chocolate buttercream, banana chips, and sea salt… I will be the first to admit, this dark chocolate and caramel banana layer cake has a lot of moving parts. However, it is one hundred percent worth it, and there’s no reason to be intimidated by the recipe (I know it looks long, but mostly I just like to be thorough!).

With a little patience, and the right tools, I promise you’ll have a delicious banana layer cake in no time! Check out my guide to the essential tools for cake baking and decorating if you’re looking for some tips on helpful items to stock your kitchen.

And one last thing…. my absolute favorite way to eat a slice of this cake is after warming it up in the microwave. I give it 8-12 seconds, depending on how big of a slice it is. The banana cake will be just warm and the ganache will be soft and slightly melty. Perfection!

Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Banana Layer Cake

A six-inch banana layer cake frosted with dark chocolate ganache and drizzled with homemade caramel sauce. Topped with flaky sea salt, dark chocolate buttercream, and banana chips.

Course Dessert
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 1 six-inch cake


Banana Layer Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk*, room temperature
  • 1 cup ripened bananas, mashed (about 3 medium-size bananas)

Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Small Batch Dark Chocolate Buttercream (Optional)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

For Assembly

  • flaky sea salt
  • banana chips


Banana Layer Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the bottoms of three six-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Then, butter and flour the bottom and sides of each pan.

  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a medium size bowl and set aside.

  3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars for 3-4 minutes until it's light and fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, add eggs, then egg white, one at a time and mixing to combine after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and the Greek yogurt and mix.

  4. Alternate adding half of the flour mixture, the buttermilk, then the other half of the flour mixture, beating to incorporate after each addition. Fold in the mashed bananas.

  5. Divide the batter evenly among the three cake pans and tap pans on the counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Let cakes cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  1. Place chocolate chips in a medium size glass bowl.

  2. Heat heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. When butter is completely melted and the mixture is heated through (bubbles will start to form at the sides of the pan, but don't let it develop into a full boil), remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.

  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the ganache on medium-high speed for a couple more minutes. Chill until ganache reaches a spreadable, frosting-like consistency. This won't take too long - stir it every 5 minutes or so to prevent it from hardening completely.

Salted Caramel Sauce

  1. Over medium heat, melt the sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until melted (it will begin to clump together then melt completely into an amber-colored liquid).

  2. Reduce heat to low and add butter (the sugar may bubble and splatter when the butter is added, this is okay). Continuing stirring until the butter is melted and incorporated completely with the melted sugar.

  3. While continuing to stir the mixture, slowly pour in the heavy cream (the mixture will bubble and splatter again). Mix until incorporated, then increase heat to medium again. Allow caramel to boil for another minute or so, stirring occasionally.

  4. Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and salt. Pour into a heatproof jar or bowl and let cool.

Small Batch Dark Chocolate Buttercream

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder gradually, mixing on low until incorporated. Add melted chocolate and vanilla, then beat to combine. Finally, add heavy cream one tablespoon at a time. Increase speed to high and beat the frosting until smooth.

To Assemble the Cake

  1. Using a sharp serrated knife or a cake leveler, remove the rounded tops of each cake. Place the first layer on a cake board, using a small amount of ganache or frosting to attach.

  2. Spread an even layer of ganache on top of the first layer, then top with a second layer of cake and another layer of ganache. Finally, stack the top layer of the cake, cut side down.

  3. Spread a thin layer of ganache (crumb coat) on the top and sides of the cake to lock in any crumbs and to even/smooth out the sides of the cake. Chill for 20 minutes.

  4. Using an offset spatula, finish frosting the top and sides of the cake with the remaining ganache. To get a smooth finish, dip your spatula in a glass of very hot water and quickly wipe it with a paper towel before running it around the edges of the cake. Chill the cake again for about 20 minutes.

  5. Use the dark chocolate buttercream (or ganache) to attach banana chips all around the bottom of the cake.

  6. Check the consistency of the caramel and warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds at a time, if necessary. You want the caramel to drip fluidly, but slowly off a spoon. Spoon the caramel around the edges of the cake, pushing it to the edge so that it drips down the sides of the cake. Then, fill in the middle of the top of the cake with caramel. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

  7. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large, open star tip, pipe the dark chocolate buttercream in swirls around the edge of the cake. Top with banana chips as desired.

Recipe Notes

* 1/4 cup of milk with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar can be substituted for buttermilk. Mix them together and let stand for 5 minutes before using.

Print Recipe
Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Banana Layer Cake - Flour Covered Apron

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Cherie January 12, 2018 - 6:14 pm

Love this cake! Looks really good 😉 Just followed you on Pinterest too!

Haley January 15, 2018 - 8:19 am

Thank you! Hope you get a chance to bake the cake sometime! 🙂

Jodi February 14, 2018 - 3:10 am

Thanks for the inspiration. This is such a cool change from my ho hum flavors I do over and over again. Think I’ll use this on my next wedding dessert bar next month. Great job, thanks.

Haley February 14, 2018 - 5:36 pm

Hi Jodi, that sounds like fun! I hope the bride and groom will enjoy. 🙂

Katie October 12, 2018 - 4:31 pm

Haley, the recipe looks great and I’d like to try it out. I’ve got two questions:
1) how much is a cup for you – is it a typical 250 ml?
2) what do you think of replacing dark chocolate with white chocolate chips? The cake is supposed to be a gift for a white chocolate lover:)
Thanks for inspiration!

Haley October 15, 2018 - 2:47 pm

Hi Katie, my conversion chart tells me that 1 cup = 240 mL, but for the dry ingredients I would think you’d convert into grams. I’m not used to measuring in metric units unfortunately, but I use standard American measuring cups/spoons!
In terms of the white chocolate, I think it would really come down to personal preference. Dark chocolate works well in this cake as a complement to the salted caramel, I think. It’s rich, but not overly sweet. White chocolate would have a sweeter taste, but if it’s what your friend enjoys, you could give it a try! White chocolate can be more finicky when it comes to making ganache, so you would need to make sure it’s good quality.

Katie November 5, 2019 - 4:14 pm

Hi Haley! I would like to make the cake this weekend and am wondering if I could make it similar to the milk bar birthday cake steps and use a sheet pan for baking with a 6 inch cake ring to cut out the layers?

Liz February 22, 2021 - 7:11 pm

I a so excited to make this cake. I am hosting a luncheon so have lots else to make. I am assuming I can bake the cake layers ahead and freeze. Is there anything else than can be made ahead? If so, how far ahead and how to I best reconstitute?


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