Chocolate Dulce De Leche Cake will be the talk of dessert! Ultra moist chocolate cake layers are topped with an easy caramel frosting from canned dulce de leche! The chocolate cake is so moist you don’t even need soaking syrup or cream! If you are Russian, think of it as a Chocolate Golden Key Cake–it has the best of caramel and chocolate!
Ukrainians and Russians bake a lot with dulce de leche! From pastries to cakes it’s like a pantry necessity found in a Slavic pantry! We love caramel, particularly boiled condensed milk because it’s the easiest way to make caramel and have it stashed for many desserts to come! Here is my recipe for Instant Pot Dulce De Leche or Stovetop Dulce De Leche! Make sure you have a can of dulce de leche ready to use for this Caramel cake recipe!
Dulce De Leche Cake
Don’t be fooled by the exotic title, chocolate dulce de leche cake is incredibly easy from start to finish! I think this chocolate cake with the conjunction of dulce de leche cream, will go viral! Just wait until you take a bite of this Dulce De Leche Cake!
This cake is not overly sweet and since the chocolate cake layers are extremely moist they do not need any soaking syrup or cream. The frosting is made from canned caramel by the title of Dulce De Leche (which is basically cooked condensed milk.) You can buy it ready in the Mexican aisle of a grocery store or Russian market. But, homemade dulce de leche is really easy to make, so, don’t be intimidated to boil some.
Chocolate Caramel Cake Recipe (Golden Key Cake):
Since condensed milk is a big part of European cuisine, it is used in many different dessert recipes. Back in Ukraine many households had cows and made homemade condensed milk in batches. Condensed milk can be boiled down to caramel and used in many desserts and sweets. Caramel candies with cow wrappers were big.
The golden key candy is one of the titles of a caramel candy that was made from condensed milk (milk and sugar make condensed milk and you can boil it down to caramel.)
So, the invention happened when I wanted to take Golden Key Cake and combine it with my favorite chocolate cake recipe. Originally Golden key cake is made with basic sponge cake layers and then heavily soaked with milk or cream (similar to a Tres Leches Cake.)
This frosting on the other hand is one to frost over any cake–it’s so good! And the nuts add a very nice crunchy texture to the soft cake layers. As a result, this cake is on the top list of easy and tasty cakes! Bring the Chocolate Dulce De Leche to a potluck, gathering, or as a dessert for the family and share the goodness!
Desserts to Try from Dulce De Leche:
- Walnut Cookies-Oreshki
- Russian Peach Cookies (Persiki)
- Oreshki Recipe (Russian Walnut Cookies)
- Chocolate Cherry Cake with Super-Moist Crumb!
What is Dulce De Leche?
Dulce De Leche is a caramel made from condensed milk. Condensed milk is cooked down milk and sugar resembling a thick milk syrup and is then canned for convenience. When condensed milk is further cooked it turns into caramel.
Preparation for dulce de leche is simple. For Stovetop Dulce De Leche, place 4-5 cans of sweetened condensed milk (in their cans) straight into a pot and simmer the cans submerged in water for about 3 hours. Instant Pot Dulce De Leche is much quicker to make and takes about 50 minutes under high pressure to caramelize.
What is Dulce De Leche Cake? To put in easy words, dulce de leche cake will consist of the canned dulce de leche (caramel) in either the frosting, syrup, or cake layer.
Dulce De Leche vs Caramel:
The difference between a homemade caramel recipe and Dulce de leche is in the ingredients. Caramel is usually made from fresh cream and sugar over the stovetop until it caramelizes. Dulce De Leche on the other hand is a type of caramel made from powdered milk or liquid milk and sugar (called condensed milk.)
Both are types of caramel only prepared with either milk or cream.
How To Make Homemade Condensed Milk:
If you are very adventurous you can try to make your own condensed milk!
- Combine 1 cup instant non-fat dry milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup boiling water, and 3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter into a blender. Beat for 2 minutes until smooth. Yields a 14 oz can of condensed milk. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
Ingredients For Chocolate Dulce De Leche Cake:
The main ingredient to make dulce de leche cake is sweetened condensed milk that has been turned into dulce de leche. Make your own dulce de leche or buy the ready version in a can (sold in most grocery stores.)
The ingredients are very basic, you can measure them out as your preparing the cake layer. Just toss every ingredient into the bowl of a mixer. Measuring out all the ingredients is unnecessary.
- Chocolate Cake Layers- all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, oil, eggs, brewed coffee, buttermilk, and vanilla.
- Caramel Frosting- the filling for dulce de leche cake is; softened butter (4 oz), room temperature cream cheese (8 oz), 14 oz dulce de leche, 16 oz Cool Whip.
- Walnuts- chopped walnuts are my choice of nuts, however, chopped hazelnuts, pecans, or almonds can be used.
Baker’s Note: can use 1 pint of heavy cream whipped with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar for the Cool Whip topping.
How To Make Dulce De Leche Frosting:
It’s important to use room temperature butter, cream cheese, and a completely thawed cool whip for successful frosting results.
- Place the softened butter and cream cheese into the bowl of a Kitchen aid mixer. Whip with the whisk attachment for 3 minutes over high speed.
- Place half of the dulce de leche into the whipped cream cheese; beat well and add the remaining dulce de leche in. Whip everything together until smooth.
- Fold in the whipped cream or taking the whisk attachment stir the cream frosting in one direction.
- You are ready to frost the chocolate cake!
How Do You Make Chocolate Golden Key Cake?
To start the process of Chocolate Golden Key Cake (Chocolate Dulce De Leche Cake) make sure you have canned dulce de leche cooled and ready to use. I typically buy a bulk amount of condensed milk cans and cook them in batches in my instant pot, days in advance. Here is how to make Instant Pot Dulce De Leche.
Once the caramel is ready and cooled, you can make this recipe! If you are short on time you can buy the ready dulce de leche at major grocery stores or European markets.
- To begin, make the chocolate cake layers. Place all the ingredients in the order given and mix in a Kitchen Aid mixer over low speed.
- Meanwhile, line an 18×13 sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Grease with cooking spray.
- Pour cake batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350°F. Cool completely before frosting.
- To Make the Dulce De Leche (caramel) Cream Frosting: Whip the softened cream cheese and butter for 3 minutes over high speed. Add the dulce de leche and continue to beat until well incorporated. Fold in the whipped topping and set aside.
- To Assemble and Frost the Chocolate cake: cut the cake layer in half crosswise to make 2 cake layers. Place one layer face down onto a serving dish or large rectangle plate. Frost the layer with half of the frosting and sprinkle with half of the walnuts. Top with the other cake layer and frost all the sides and top of the cake.
- Sprinkle cake with the remainder of chopped walnuts and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Can I Use Other Nuts?
The Golden key cake (dulce de leche cake) can be made with walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, or almonds. If you are allergic to nuts you can omit them altogether and add something crunchy like granola.
How To Store Chocolate Dulce De Leche Cake?
This chocolate dulce de leche cake can be stored at room temperature a few hours before serving. I do not recommend this cake to sit out for too long as the buttercream can get very soft in warmer climates. It holds much better in the refrigerator, however, if you are in a cooler climate than me it may work out fine to leave it out longer.
Storing: once frosted keep the cake refrigerated. An hour before serving take the cake out of the fridge and bring it to room temp or serve immediately. This cake is very moist so either way will be great for serving.
Can you Freeze Dulce De Leche Cake?
Cakes freeze very well! Before you frost the cakes, wrap the cake layers in a few layers of plastic wrap and freeze solid. Then transfer into a large bag and keep frozen for up to 6 months in a deep freezer.
To freeze assembled cake: frost and garnish cake with nuts (nuts freeze well too.) Place frosted cake in a [eafl id="18614" name="Rectangle Cake Container" text="rectangle cake container"] and freeze for up to 3 months.
Caramel Topping Variations?
- Chocolate- use chocolate flakes or chocolate syrup over your cake layers to satisfy the chocolate craving!
- Nuts- sprinkle hazelnuts over the cake for a Nutella-inspired flavor.
- Dried Fruits- dried blueberries go very well with chocolate cake and a dulce de leche cream.
- Pomegranate- garnish the top of the cake with pomegranate seeds (it freezes well too.)
- Fresh Fruits- strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries go well in cakes with condensed milk.
- Ganache- cover your cake with chocolate ganache for a double chocolate cake!
What to Serve With Chocolate Dulce De Leche Cake?
Our family-favorite way of eating cake is with a hot cup of tea or coffee. A side of fresh fruits or a cheese board is always a good idea for a tea party.
How To Cut Cake For Big Parties:
This dulce de leche chocolate cake can easily be turned into individual cake slices. Simply place each slice into cupcake liners and arrange it over a tower. Another way to serve this cake is to just cut it into squares right in the serving dish.
If feeding a large crowd double the recipe and just stack each cake layer atop for easier cake assembly.
Handy Cake Tools:
- Rectangle Cake Container– for freezing cakes or bringing somewhere.
- Cake Spatula– for frosting cake.
- 18x13 Sheet Pan– to bake the chocolate cake in.
- Silicone Baking Mats– even non-stick pans need some parchment paper or mats to bake the chocolate cake in. I own these mats and have them stored on my baking sheets. I don’t really flour my greased parchment paper or mats, it works fine just greased.
- Cooking Spray– for spraying the parchment paper or silicone mats.
BEST Tips for Chocolate Dulce De Leche Cake Recipe:
- Turn a large batch of condensed milk into dulce de leche by making my instant pot dulce de leche! It will be a time-saver for recipes like these.
- Sift your flour for a lighter cake. Nobody wants to bite into a cake with clumps of flour in it!
- Don’t overbake the cake layers! This chocolate Dulce De Leche Cake is done in about 25 minutes!
- You could take the extra step of roasting the walnuts or any kind of nuts in that matter for an aromatic crunch!
Chocolate Dulce De Leche Cake (Golden Key Cake)
- 18x13" sheet pan
- rectangle serving dish
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup oil
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup coffee
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- To make the chocolate cake place all the ingredients into a Kitchen aid mixer in the order given and mix over low speed. Pour batter into a lined and greased 18x13 sheet pan.
- Bake cake in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the caramel frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter for 3 minutes over high speed. Add the dulce de leche and whip until blended well. Stir in the Cool Whip and set aside.
- To assemble the cake: cut the cake in half crosswise and place one layer face down onto a serving dish.
- Frost the cake layer with half of the frosting and sprinkle with half the nuts. Top with the other cake layer and frost all sides of the cake.
- Garnish with the remaining walnuts and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.