Happy Friday!! I didn’t plan on sharing this cake recipe today, but as luck would have it, it’s ready! Hooray! I’ll keep it short and simple and get right to the main event: brown butter balsamic caramel cake.
I know what you’re thinking: balsamic caramel? I get it, so hear me out. About a year ago, we did a how-to on caramel here. We walked through the ins and outs of how to make it and since that time, we’ve flavored caramels with all sorts of stuff- coffee, peanut butter, maple syrup, and more! But today, we’re venturing into new and exciting territory, going where no man (or woman!) has gone before on this site: balsamic caramel. With the addition of a smidge of high-quality balsamic vinegar, we can ever-so-slightly modify the taste and scent of ordinary caramel, taking it from something yummy and sweet to a filling that is intoxicating, interesting, and down-right sophisticated. Combine that with brown butter cake layers and buttercream and you have yourself a winner. Lt’s talk about how to make it.
Making the Cake
The cake layers are straight-forward. We start by browning butter in a pan (more on that here!), cooling it, and whipping it into a cake batter. The cakes bake up into thick, 9″ wide layers, and are allowed to cool. In the meantime, we can work on the caramel. Butter and brown sugar melt down and cook in a pan until thick and golden. Carefully stir in some heavy cream, salt, and that smidge of balsamic for flavor and allow it to cool completely in the fridge. Once it’s room temperature, we can make the buttercream and begin the assembly!
Trim off any domed tops from the cakes and spread a smooth layer of buttercream on top of the first layer. In order to put some caramel within the cake, we’ll need to pipe a dam around the perimeter (more on that here!) and pour in some of the cooled caramel. Place the second layer on top and decorate as desired with any remaining frosting. I opted to top the cake with extra caramel and some toasted hazelnuts, but this is all totally up to you! Either way, this brown butter balsamic caramel cake came out looking though, don’t you?
I know next week will be all about pumpkins, pies, turkey dinners, so for now, let’s just give thanks for this beauty of a cake. I’ve got another yummy recipe in store for y’all next week, even amidst all the holiday excitement! If you get to make this cake, let me know what you think in the comments below! Happy Friday and Happy Baking!
If you like this brown butter balsamic caramel cake you should make:Print
Brown Butter Balsamic Caramel Cake
This two layer cake has fluffy brown butter layers, a balsamic vinegar caramel filling, and a simple American buttercream flavored with that same tangy caramel!
- Prep Time: 45
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 9 Servings
- Category: Dessert
For the cake layers:
- 1–½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2–3/4 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk, at room temperature
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the caramel:
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (or more, according to your taste)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
For the buttercream:
- 1–1/2 cups unsalted butter
- 2/3 cups prepared caramel
- 2–1/2 cups powdered sugar
- To prepare the cake, cube the butter and place it in a medium, light-colored, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium low heat. Stir regularly to allow the butter to melt evenly. It will begin to sizzle, foam, and then brown. Continue stirring and scraping the sides of the pan as the butter browns and remove to a heat-safe bowl when the butter has golden flecks throughout and the pan smells fragrant. Allow to cool completely to soft, room temperature. I prefer to speed this process up in the fridge.
- When ready to bake the cake, ensure that your butter is room temperature and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9” pans with baking spray and cut out rounds of parchment paper to fit directly into the bottom of each pan. Cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for 4 minutes. The mixture will be light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add half of the flour, the powder, soda, and salt. Sitr on low to combine. Combine the milk, vinegar, and vanilla and add half of that mixture. Stir on low and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining wet and use a rubber spatula to fold in any unincorporated bits. Do not over mix. Divide the batter between the two pans and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Bake time differs from oven to oven. Remove from oven when done and allow to cool completely.
- In the meantime, prepare the caramel. In a medium, heavy-bottomed pan, combine the butter and brown sugar and stir regularly until the mixture has melted. Bring to a rolling boil and use a rubber spatula to barely stir the caramel on the edges of the pan toward the middle. Cook for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in the remaining ingredients. Transfer to a heat-safe container and allow to cool completely.
- When ready to frost the cake, cream the butter for the buttercream on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the caramel and powdered sugar and whip for an additional minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again to incorporate.
- Use a serrated knife to level the cakes and place a schmear of buttercream on a prepared cake board or plate. Place the first layer on top and smooth a large plop of buttercream on this first cake. Place a cup of the buttercream in a piping bag or Ziploc and snip the end off to make a ½” sided opening. Pipe a dam around the perimeter of the top of the cake and spoon some of the remaining caramel inside. Place the second cake layer on top and lightly press down to seal it to the bottom cake. Be sure no caramel smushes out. Finish icing with the remaining buttercream and decorate as desired! I used toasted hazelnuts and extra caramel! Enjoy!