The Best Dulce de Leche Cake (video)

dulce de leche caramel cake with caramelized sugar

If you’re a caramel lover, you’re going to love this stunning Dulce de Leche cake! This caramel cake is all about that caramel! Three cans of dulce de leche are used in this recipe: one for the cake layers, one as a filling and one for the salted caramel buttercream! The salted caramel buttercream is my favorite part – it rounds off all the sweetness of the cake layers. This epic cake is finished with crystalized sugar garnishes, which are so fun to make! It’s the perfect caramel cake for a special occasion!

My Dulce de Leche Cake Video Tutorial

Watch my YouTube video recipe for step-by-step instructions for making this stunning dulce de leche cake. Plus, learn how to make the caramelized sugar garnish! Want to receive new recipe emails in your inbox? Make sure to subscribe to my website emailing list and my YouTube channel and turn on notifications!

Ingredients for Dulce de Leche Caramel Cake

You’ll love all the incredible flavors of this dulce de leche cake! It’s so rich and caramel-y and perfect for any occasion! Here are the main ingredients you’ll need:

  • Unsalted Butter: I recommend using unsalted butter for both the cake layers and for the buttercream frosting. Soften the butter at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Whole Milk: using whole milk will give you a richer tasting cake. Use warm milk to keep the butter from clumping together.
  • Eggs: have the eggs at room temperature for best results.
  • Sugar: use regular, white granulated sugar for the cake and for making the caramelized sugar garnish.
  • Flour, Baking Powder, Salt: the dry ingredients you’ll need for the cake layers.
  • Dulce de Leche: this thick caramel sauce is actually slow-cooked sweetened condensed milk. It’s typically sold in stores next to Mexican/Latin American products.

What Type of Caramel to Use

For this recipe, I used three cans of dulce de leche! This thick caramel sauce is made by cooking sweetened condensed milk in the can over low heat for several hours. You can by the caramel premade and ready to use. Making this caramel yourself can be a bit dangerous as the cans do have a tendency to explode!

homemade salted caramel sauce in glass jar

How to Make Dulce de Leche Cake

I love this incredible caramel cake! Not only is it a show-stopping cake, it’s always easy to put together! Here’s how I make this dessert:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line three, 8-inch cake rounds with parchment paper; or, two, 9-inch cake rounds. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the cake layers. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and dulce de leche. Microwave the caramel for 30 seconds to soften it. Mix all ingredients together until creamy, then pour in the milk. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour into the batter in small amounts and whisk after each addition. Whisk only until flour is incorporated.
  3. Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cakes from pans and allow them to cool completely. Once cooled, use a long, serrated knife to level the cake layers.
  4. While the cake layers are cooling, prepare a batch of my Salted Caramel Buttercream. Refrigerate the frosting until you’re ready to use it.
  5. Also, prepare the caramelized sugar for using as a garnish.
  6. To assemble the cake, first level the cake layers with a sharp serrated knife. Spread each layer first with a generous amount of dulce de leche, then add the caramel buttercream over the top.
  7. Frost the top and sides of cake and smooth over with a flat spatula. Transfer the remaining frosting into a pastry bag tipped with tip #4FT. Watch my video for decorating the top. Decorate the sides with the broken sugar.
  8. Keep cake refrigerated and remove from fridge about 1 to 2 hours prior to serving to allow the cake to soften.
cake slice of caramel cake with dulce de leche

Making the Salted Caramel Buttercream

I frost this caramel cake with my all-time favorite frosting – salted caramel buttercream frosting! It’s super easy to make, too! If you don’t have dulce de leche, I recommend making a batch of my homemade caramel sauce and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight. Make sure your butter is just soften, not melted! Otherwise, the buttercream will stay flat.

  1. Place the softened, unsalted butter into mixing bowl. Whisk on high speed for about 5 to 7 minutes, until butter is light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl often to get all the butter mixed well.
  2. Add the dulce de leche (cooked sweetened condensed milk) or caramel sauce. If necessary, increase the amount of confectioner’s sugar to thicken the frosting. Mix for about a minute until the caramel is well combined with the butter.
  3. Add the vanilla and salt. Start by adding 1/4 teaspoon salt, then add more if needed. Begin adding the confectioner’s sugar 1 cup at a time, scraping down sides of mixing bowl often to get everything incorporated. Make sure to sift confectioner’s sugar before adding to avoid any clumps. After adding all sugar, whisk on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes to get frosting very fluffy.
salted caramel buttercream frosting in a bowl on a table

How to Make Crystalized Sugar

And let’s talk about the spectacular garnish! I had this crazy idea to add broken pieces of crystallized sugar on the sides and the idea turned out even better than I imagined! It takes this dulce de leche cake to a whole new level, making this cake simply epic! To make the sugar garnishes, you’ll need just 2 ingredients: sugar and water. The sugar is cooked over medium heat until it reaches a deep amber color, then it’s poured over a baking sheet and allowed to cool. It’s super easy and fun to make! Here are a few more tips:

  • Do not stir the sugar and water! Just pour both into a small saucepan and let the heat do the trick. Stirring the sugar will cause the crystals to form.
  • Caramelized sugar will be VERY HOT! Handle the syrup with extreme care! Allow the sugar to cool completely before breaking it into smaller pieces.
  • Add the crystallized sugar garnishes to the cake when you’re ready to show it off! Don’t leave them on overnight, otherwise they will start to melt.
slice of caramel cake with salted caramel frosting

More Recipes!

Love all things caramel and looking for more? Check out these delicious caramel recipes you’re sure to enjoy!

Enjoyed this recipe? Please share and save it to Pinterest!

The Best Dulce de Leche Cake video recipe

The Best Dulce de Leche Cake Recipe (video)

1 hr 45 mins prep + 40 mins cook
16 servings
Amazing dulce de leche cake with caramel cake layers, caramel buttercream and crystalized sugar garnishes!

Ingredients 

For Caramel Cake Layers:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 14 ounce can dulce de leche
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt

For Salted Caramel Buttercream:

  • 2 cups butter, softened at room temperature
  • 14 ounce can dulce de leche
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 cups confectioner's sugar

For Caramelized Sugar Garnish:

  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

For Filling:

  • 14 ounce can dulce de leche, for filling

Instructions

For the Caramel Cake Layers:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Line three, 8-inch cake rounds with parchment paper; or, two, 9-inch cake rounds. Set aside.
  • Prepare the cake layers first. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and dulce de leche. Microwave the caramel for 30 seconds to soften it. Mix all ingredients together until creamy, then pour in the milk.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour into the batter in small amounts and whisk after each addition. Whisk only until flour is incorporated.
  • Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cakes from pans and allow them to cool completely. Once cooled, use a long, serrated knife to level the cake layers.

For Caramelized Sugar Garnish:

  • While cakes are baking, prepare the crystallized sugar garnish. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, not stirring, until sugar caramelized into deep amber color. Pour the sugar syrup over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a spatula to spread the syrup as it cools. Allow the syrup to cool completely and harden before handling. Break the candy into shards of different sizes.

For Caramel Frosting:

  • Prepare the buttercream once layers have cooled. Place the softened butter into a stand mixer bowl and whisk it on high speed for 5 to 7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrap down the sides of the mixing bowl a few times. Next, add the dulce de leche, vanilla extract and a few pinches of salt. Add less salt first, then taste and add more to taste. Whisk buttercream until it's light and fluffy.
  • Add the confectioner's sugar next. Keep whisking for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the buttercream is light and fluffy. If your butter was too warm, the buttercream will stay flat. Place the frosting into the refrigerator for 1 hour, then whisk again.

Assembling the Cake:

  • To assemble the cake, first level the cake layers with a serrated knife. Spread each layer first with a generous amount of dulce de leche, then add the caramel buttercream. Frost the top and sides of cake and smooth over with a flat spatula. Transfer the remaining frosting into a pastry bag tipped with tip #4FT. Watch my video for decorating the top. Decorate the sides with the broken sugar.
  • Keep cake refrigerated and remove from fridge about 1 to 2 hours prior to serving to allow the cake to soften.

Nutrition

Calories: 723kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 519mg | Potassium: 69mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 70g | Vitamin A: 1067IU | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 1mg