Caramel Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Quinn is a big fan of caramel. I’ve talked about making him a caramel cake for ages. I like caramel, too, but in small doses. The idea of a cake whose primary flavor is caramel doesn’t really appeal to me. But, I aim to please, so I thought for Christmas I would try my hand at making one.

That’s when my plans took a little detour. Caramel cake being a popular dessert in the South, I figured Southern Living was a good place to start looking for recipes. Of the recipes I found on their recipe site, I was most intrigued by this one from another of their publications, Cottage Living, that has a caramel cream cheese frosting instead of the traditional caramel frosting.

I have made no secret about my adoration of all things cream cheese. Quinn also being a fan, I thought this cake would be just the thing. And was I ever right. The cake is delicious. No, it’s beyond delicious. In my mind, it was the highlight of our Christmas desserts.

My only problem was with the caramel layer. It didn’t set like I thought it should have. It became a little too hard and crumbly for my liking. I envisioned it being a lot smoother. I think that I messed that up somewhere along the way. Regardless, I still loved the cake.

And the caramel cream cheese frosting? Honestly, I would have been more than happy to have had just the frosting for my Christmas dessert. I will certainly be using that recipe again. I’m sure I can come up with all manner of things that would go with it wonderfully.

Caramel Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 10-12 servings

Caramel Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


    For the cake:
  • 3 & 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • For the caramel:
  • 1 & 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • For the frosting:
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 & 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar


To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment or wax paper, and grease paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat sugar, brown sugar, and butter until well mixed (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour mixture, alternating with milk. Begin and end with flour.

Divide batter evenly and pour into prepared pans. Tap pans on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake 35 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Place one cooled layer on a cake plate.

To make the caramel:

Combine brown sugar, milk, and butter in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 238°. Transfer to a heat-resistant bowl. Beat 3 minutes or until thick enough to spread.

Immediately spread caramel over cake layer on cake stand. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until set (about 15 minutes).

To make the frosting:

Place brown sugar and 4 tablespoons butter in a heavy saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil. Whisk in cream and mix well. Transfer to a heat-resistant bowl to allow caramel to cool to room temperature. Stir occasionally.

Using an electric mixer, beat 6 tablespoons butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth. Mix in vanilla and salt.

While mixer is still running, slowly add caramel and beat until smooth. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, and beat until well combined. Chill frosting until thickened for spreading. Stir occasionally.

To assemble the cake:

Spread a thin layer of frosting over caramel filling. Place second cake layer on top. Frost top and sides of cake.

Chill until frosting has set (about 20 minutes). Cover cake and chill at least 4 hours. Let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.


Recipe adapted from Southern Living.

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  1. Tracy December 30, 2007 Reply

    Oh… my….
    Who cares about that caramel layer. That cake looks deelish.

  2. Cedar December 30, 2007 Reply

    That looks absolutely delicious! I love caramel, and even more than that love cream cheese…what a yummy combo!

  3. JEP December 30, 2007 Reply

    Even tho’ I really like caramel goodies, I, too, could do without the caramel layer on this cake as the frosting would satisfy me. Thanks for the related recipes!

  4. rachel December 30, 2007 Reply

    I love the idea of caramel cream cheese frosting! YUM!

  5. peabody December 30, 2007 Reply

    It looks amazing. To this day one of the most favorite thing I made was a double caramel cake. But I am with Quinn, I love caramel.
    The only thing I can think that might of happen to the caramel layer is slightly overcooked caramel. Caramel as much as I love it can often be such a pain.

  6. jennifer December 30, 2007 Reply

    Thanks, Tracy! It was indeed delicious.

    Cedar, if you like caramel and cream cheese, I highly recommend this cake to you. Or, you know, just make the frosting. Yum!

    JEP, I think it would be more than fine to omit the caramel layer. You might need a bit more frosting.

    Rachel, it is so good. I don’t have words sufficient to describe that frosting.

    Peabody, I agree that the caramel might have overcooked. Either that or it got too cool too fast when it was transferred over to be beaten. Oh, well.

  7. Ashley December 31, 2007 Reply

    This cake sounds perfect! I love caramel and I love cream cheese. I just discovered your blog through Patricia (Technicolor Kitchen) and am already loving it and adding it to my blog reader list! So many beautiful photos and yummy looking baked goods.

  8. Kate December 31, 2007 Reply

    This is the most food-pornie food porn I’ve seen in ages. I want to dive into that cake slice and roll all over it. I happen to LOVE caramel cake — it’s a very retro flavor, whereas, I don’t care much for caramel drizzled anything, or caramels, or caramel sauce. But cooked caramel cake? Oh yes. Someone light me a cigarette.

  9. Nan December 31, 2007 Reply

    This caramel cake was delicious. It is just the right amount of caramel and the frosting, I think, was the best part of all! Cream cheese? You can’t go wrong with cream cheese anything! If the caramel layer was “messed up” as you say, I don’t think it hurt the taste of this cake one little bit!

  10. Kristen January 11, 2008 Reply

    I bet this is one of the most amazing cakes ever! It looks fantastic!

  11. jennifer January 11, 2008 Reply

    Welcome, Ashley! I’m glad you found me!

    LOL, Kate! Sounds like you and this cake had a moment.

    Thanks, Kristen! It is definitely one of my favorites.

  12. Heather January 25, 2008 Reply

    I found your site not too long ago and have really been enjoying it. Great photos! I was thinking of making this cake and noticed that I had a box of yellow cake mix in my pantry. I have no problem making things from scratch but wanted to get this box out of my closet, so I’m wondering if you think a box mix would hold up against the filling and frosting. Thanks in advance for your advice! Have a great weekend!

  13. jennifer January 25, 2008 Reply

    Heather, I would absolutely try the yellow cake mix. This cake itself wasn’t heavy on flavor. It let the filling and frosting really come through. Personally, I might prefer a white cake mix, but I’m sure yellow will work just fine. Let me know what you think!

  14. Maria January 28, 2009 Reply

    I’m making this cake for a friends birthday… it seems like in comparison to the other cakes I make, this one is fairly dense and doesn’t get a high rise. Would you agree with that or did I do something wrong? Just wanting another opinion. I was hoping to make a three or four layer cake, but will never be able to do so with what i’ve got. I may just make another layer tomorrow, but I’m just looking for some feedback.


  15. jennifer January 29, 2009 Reply

    Maria, I only managed two layers with this one. And, as you can tell from the picture, they weren’t the most perfect layers. Let me know how it works with another layer. Enjoy!

  16. Maggie December 7, 2012 Reply

    Is it possible to substitute the heavy whipping cream for half and half?

  17. jennifer December 7, 2012 Reply

    Maggie, you should be able to use half and half in the frosting. If the frosting is a little thin, you can add a bit more confectioners’ sugar.

  18. Adrienne February 23, 2013 Reply

    Hi! This looks divine. I am looking for a cake that will stack nicely so that I can do the petal frosting technique on the sides. You noted in another comment that your layers weren’t “perfect”, but I was just wondering if you thought they may be too soft to get a straight sided cake and angle at the top edge. Any thoughts?

    Many thanks! Love the blog. :)

  19. Adrienne February 23, 2013 Reply

    …or maybe you have another suggestion that would work well for decorating (in the white cake family)? I see several that I’ve saved from you that are drool worthy…

    Thanks again!

  20. jennifer February 23, 2013 Reply

    Adrienne, I think the layers of this cake would work fine. As with any layer cake, you might have trim them to make them flat for smoother frosting.

  21. Monica April 26, 2013 Reply

    Looks so moist and delicious! Love the caramel and cream cheese

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