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Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Birthday Cake

by Haley
Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Birthday Cake with Figs, Blackberries, Blueberries, and Champagne Grapes | Flour Covered Apron

I celebrated my birthday this year with a Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Birthday Cake! Layers of dark chocolate ganache and homemade caramel alternate between each of the six layers of dark chocolate cake. It’s finished with a vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream and decorated with champagne grapes, blackberries, blueberries, and fresh figs.

Earlier this week, I celebrated my 27th birthday. It will probably not come as a surprise that the cake was the primary focus of any planning that went into my birthday celebrations. I had been keeping my eyes peeled for inspiration, when I saw this jaw-droppingly gorgeous cake, posted on Instagram by Stems and Forks.

I’ve been following along with Betty ever since I made these chocolate espresso banana muffins for a virtual coffee party we were both part of a few months ago. Seriously, everything she posts is gorgeous. When I saw her cake, decorated with some of the best fruits that late summer has to offer (fresh figs, blackberries, blueberries, and the most darling champagne grapes), I knew immediately that I wanted to recreate the design for my birthday.

A six layer dark chocolate cake filled with dark chocolate ganache and salted caramel, and frosted with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. Decorated with fresh figs, blueberries, and blackberries.

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Caramel and Dark Chocolate Cake

For the cake itself, I went with my favorite dark chocolate flavor. To me, there’s nothing better than a moist, rich, homemade chocolate cake. And since I’m a sucker for tall cakes, I baked my eight-inch recipe in three of my six-inch pans. Then, I sliced each of the three cakes in half with a wire cake cutter.

With six layers to fill, there were so many possibilities for fillings. I ended up not being able to choose just one, so I landed on alternating layers of dark chocolate ganache and homemade salted caramel sauce.

Six layers of dark chocolate cake filled with alternating layers of dark chocolate ganache and salted caramel | Flour Covered Apron

Ben had offered to help make my cake for my birthday, so I actually let him make the caramel sauce! I directed him to my go-to caramel recipe, which is also featured in this Dark Chocolate and Caramel Banana Cake and these Triple Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Salted Caramel (oh hey, I guess I really like this combo).  It takes a little bit of patience to get the sugar to melt completely into a beautiful, amber-colored liquid, but trust me, it’s so worth it!

To finish off the cake, I used a simple vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream to create a blank canvas on which to display all the fruit. I love the deep, rich color palette in this combination of figs, grapes, blackberries, and blueberries – so I really wanted to let them shine. As you are decorating, a few strategically placed toothpicks can really help keep the fruit in place. They’re especially helpful for draping the grapes!

If you make this recipe, don’t forget to show off your masterpiece by tagging @flourcoveredapron on Instagram. Seeing your creations absolutely makes my day!

Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Birthday Cake

I celebrated my birthday this year with a Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Birthday Cake! Layers of dark chocolate ganache and homemade caramel alternate between each of the six layers of dark chocolate cake. It’s finished with a vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream and decorated with champagne grapes, blackberries, blueberries, and fresh figs.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword blackberries, blueberries, cake, caramel, chocolate, dark chocolate, figs, ganache, grapes
Servings 1 six-inch cake


Dark Chocolate Cake

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup very hot coffee

Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup good-quality dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

For Assembly

  • fresh figs
  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • champagne grapes


Dark Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare three 6" cake pans by lining the bottoms with parchment paper. Then, butter and flour the pans.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, both sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

  3. Add the eggs, egg yolks, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Mix well with a spatula. Then, pour in the hot coffee and whisk just until combined.

  4. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached). Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then turn each cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

  1. Place dark chocolate chips in a small, heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, just until bubbles begin to form at the edges. Remove from heat and immediately pour the cream on top of the chocolate chips.

  2. Cover the bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Then, whisk until smooth. Set aside to allow the ganache to cool and thicken until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

Salted Caramel Sauce

  1. Over medium heat, melt the sugar in a small saucepan. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the granules have melted completely (they will begin to clump together, then melt into an amber-colored liquid). It's important that the sugar is completely liquified, so be patient!

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

  3. While continuing to stir the mixture, slowly pour in the heavy cream (the mixture may 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 to allow the caramel to cool and thicken.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  1. Add egg whites and granulated sugar to the top bowl of a double boiler (you can create one with your stand mixer bowl by placing it on top of a small saucepan with a little water in the bottom, but make sure the water doesn't reach the bottom of the mixing bowl). Whisk to combine, then turn on heat to medium.

  2. Whisking frequently, heat the mixture until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture feels smooth when rubbed between two fingers. Alternatively, you can use a candy thermometer to measure the temperature. It's done heating once the temperature has reached 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed to form a meringue. Continue beating until stiff peaks form and the meringue has reached room temperature, about 8-10 minutes.

  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, then turn mixer to medium-low speed and add butter a couple tablespoons at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and beat the buttercream on medium speed until it is completely smooth.

Assembling the Cake

  1. Use a cake leveler or a sharp, serrated knife to slice the rounded domes off the top of each cake, then to slice each cake in half horizontally. You will end up with six layers of cake.

  2. Spread a small amount of buttercream on a cardboard cake board, then place the bottom layer of cake on top.

  3. Use the buttercream to fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round piping tip and pipe a dam of buttercream in a circle along the edge of the first layer of cake (this will help prevent the filling from spilling out over the sides). Fill the center with 1/3 of the ganache, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly.

  4. Place the next layer of cake on top, pipe another dam of buttercream, and fill with salted caramel sauce, spreading it with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.

  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the remaining 4 layers of cake, alternating the ganache and caramel fillings. In the end, you will have 3 layers of ganache and 2 layers of caramel. For the last layer of cake, make sure to place it on top with the cut side facing down.

  6. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining Swiss meringue buttercream, giving it a semi-naked finish. Then, chill the cake for at least 20 minutes.

  7. Once the cake is chilled, drizzle a little bit of salted caramel down the sides, then decorate as desired with figs, blackberries, blueberries, and grapes. If needed, you can use toothpicks to secure the fruit in place.

Print Recipe

Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Birthday Cake with Figs, Blackberries, Blueberries, and Champagne Grapes | Flour Covered Apron

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Kasey Goins October 22, 2018 - 8:30 am

This is so, so beautiful!! Your photos are styling are just gorgeous!

Haley October 24, 2018 - 10:14 pm

Thanks so much Kasey!!

Anna April 30, 2019 - 12:49 pm

Hi Haley, your recipe sounds absolutely yummy! I’d love to try it but would like to do 3 layer 8” cake..would I have to double or triple your recipe for the cake butter please? Thank you Anna

Haley May 6, 2019 - 5:35 pm

Hi Anna. I’ve made this same recipe as a 3 layer 8″ cake. Check out my blackberry chocolate cake recipe as an example (https://flourcoveredapron.com/blackberry-chocolate-cake/). You don’t need to adjust the measurements at all, the layers will just be a little less thick than they are with this recipe, where I made thicker layers so I could cut them in half.

A M May 28, 2019 - 1:42 pm

Hi, Haley…this looks amazing! Thanks for sharing your recipe. I am going to attempt it this weekend. Had a question on timing. I’m assuming everything is doable in one go, i.e. I can get started on the ganache, caramel, and buttercream while the cakes are baking/cooling. Is that true? Will the ganache, caramel, and buttercream stay loose enough, or do they set too quickly for multitasking? Also, if I’m going to skip the fruit, is there enough salted caramel to do a complete ring and drips around the top, or would you recommend upping that recipe?

Haley May 29, 2019 - 12:16 pm

Awesome, I hope you enjoy it! Yes, you could absolutely get started on the ganache, caramel, and buttercream while the cakes are baking and cooling. The ganache and caramel can easily be warmed up again if they set too much (just stick them in the microwave for 5-10 seconds at a time and stir until the right consistency is reached). I’d recommend doubling the caramel recipe if you want to cover the entire cake!


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