double chocolate salted caramel birthday cake

If double chocolate salted caramel birthday cake doesn’t get your mouth watering, then you must be taking Veganuary too seriously. This cake is heaven. So indulgent, so moist, so chocolatey. I love adding a little espresso powder to anything with chocolate in it. It’s such a great thing to keep in the pantry, even if you don’t actually like drinking coffee. It also works brilliantly in brownies to really bring out those deep, fruity notes in the chocolate.

I made this cake for my friend’s 25th birthday. Saskia and I have known each other since we were 3, which is over 20 years ago now! I can’t quite believe it. She was the one who taught me how to tie my shoe laces and put up with incessant requests to cut and style her hair when we were pre-teens. If you don’t still keep in touch with people you went to school with, take some time this week to reach out and reconnect. There’s something about those shared childhood experiences that can’t be matched, and the new year seems like a good time to do something new, with an old friend. We’re organising a little reunion in a few months, and I can’t wait. We all have so much to catch up on and so many old times to reminisce on.

It can be difficult after you graduate from university. Whether it’s a new job, a new city or even a new country, keeping in touch with people from the past can be tough, but there is something to be said for friendships that withstood all that childhood and the teenage years threw at them. It’s so exciting to hear about what your old friends are up to, how their lives are panning out.

Anyway, back to the birthday cake! If you’re anything like me, seeing a plain frosted cake is like a glorious blank canvas, just waiting to be adorned. As I’ve mentioned before in this post, I have a really thing for American sprinkles. They are SO bright and colourful and yes, I am the weirdo that brings them back to the UK in my suitcase. I hope you enjoy this cake as much as Sas and I did!


  • Serves: 12 slices


  • cake
    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup cocoa powder NOT dutch-process
    • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 1/4 cups sugar
    • 1 1/4 cups sour cream low fat works fine too!
    • 2/3 cup canola/sunflower/vegetable oil
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • frosting & filling
    • 3 sticks unsalted butter room temperature
    • 1 lb icing sugar
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp espresso powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup dark chocolate, melted and cooled chocolate chips are easiest for this!
    • splash milk
    • 4 tbsp salted caramel available at the grocery store or on Amazon, Joe & Seph’s is my fave
    • 1/2 cup non-pareils or sprinkles of choice (optional)



  1. Preheat the oven to 350f. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt and baking sugar into a large bowl. Briefly whisk to combine.
  2. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, sugar and oil. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Spray the inside of two 9-inch cake tins with oil, or grease with butter. Line the bottoms with greased parchment paper.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and whisk to combine until you have a smooth, lump-free mixture. Divide between the two tins and bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes.
  5. Run a knife around the edges of the cakes, then tip them out onto a wire cooling rack and remove the parchment paper. Leave to cool completely while you make the frosting.
  6. Start checking for doneness at about 20 minutes - you want the skewer to come out clean. When the cakes are done, leave them to cool for about 10 minutes in their tins.


  1. I like to make the frosting in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but you could also do it in a large bowl using an electric hand whisk. Begin by beating the room temperature butter for a few minutes until its lighter and fluffier. Add the sifted powdered sugar gradually, keeping the machine on a low speed.
  2. Once you have added all the powdered sugar, add the cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt and vanilla. Keep beating and add the heavy cream. Add the cooled chocolate next. If the mixture is a little too thick, add a splash of milk until it reaches your desired consistency.
  3. Fill a large piping bag with frosting. Pipe a little smudge of frosting onto your plate or cakestand so the bottom cake sticks to it. Fill with a layer of frosting (about 3/4 cm) and drizzle with salted caramel. Add the top layer of the cake and repeat the frosting. Frost the sides of the cake, using an offset spatula to smooth the surface. Add sprinkles if desired.
Written on January 30, 2018