This Dulce de leche chocolate cake is an easy, delicious recipe and requires no frosting, making it fuss-free. The perfect cake to feed a crowd!
This cake is an homage to the cakes my mom bought from home industries when I was a little girl. Home industries (or Tuisnywerheid in Afrikaans) are small shops that sell cakes, cookies, pies and tarts made by local cooks and bakers. These businesses allow family’s an extra source of income and are quite popular where I grew up. The cakes specifically are always amazing. Light, fluffy and impossibly moist with simple buttercream frosting and more often than not, a thick layer of dulce de leche (or as it is also called, Caramel Treat). Simple indulgence in its best form.
Full recipe + amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Flour. I use cake flour but all purpose will work just as well.
- Sugar. Caster sugar or regular granulated.
- Baking powder.
- Baking soda. (Bicarbonate of soda)
- Cocoa powder. I used a very rich, dark cocoa which is why my cake turned out so dark so don’t be alarmed if yours is lighter.
- Boiling water. I add a teaspoon of instant coffee to the water to intensify the flavor of the cocoa but this step can be omitted.)
- Vegetable oil.
- Vanilla extract.
How to make dulce de leche chocolate cake
- Make the batter: Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the wet ingredients together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well until the batter is smooth and thick.
- Bake the cake: Preheat the oven and grease and line a rectangular cake pan with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pan and place in the oven. Allow to bake for 30-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.
- Decorate the cake: Once the cake has completely cooled, whip the dulce de leche to make sure its completely smooth. Spread/pipe the caramel onto the cake then decorate with sprinkles (optional). Slice and serve.
What is dulce de leche?
Dulce de leche is caramelized, slow-cooked sweetened condensed milk. Traditionally, it is made cooking milk and sugar very slowly until it is rich, dark and thick. It can easily be made yourself by cooking a sealed can of condensed milk in a pot of water over a long period of time (there are many articles on doing this yourself all over the internet). I, however, choose to use the ready-made, canned version because it is absolutely delicious and requires no effort on my part.
In South Africa, Nestlé manufactures cans of caramelized condensed milk called Caramel Treat so I’m not sure of the names of similar products globally but I know dulce de leche is a readily-available ingredient in most supermarkets.
Are caramel and dulce de leche the same thing?
No, they are not. Caramel has a base of water, sugar, butter and cream while dulce de leche is milk and sugar cooked slowly until thick, darkened in color and caramelized.
For this cake you want dulce de leche which is thicker than caramel and is used as the topping.
Chocolate cake recipes
Easy Dulce de leche chocolate cake
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¾ cup cocoa powder unsweetened
- 1 cup boiling water/coffee
- 1 cup milk
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
For the topping
- 2 cups dulce de leche
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Grease and line a 30cm x 20cm cake pan with parchment/baking paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
- Mix all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl/measuring jug and pour into the dry ingredients.
- Mix until just combined then pour batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Place into the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven once baked and allow to cool completely on a wire-rack.
- Whip the dulce de leche to make sure it's smooth then spread onto the cooled cake. Top with sprinkles and serve.
My batter was quite runny. Can you clarify if you sift your flour before measuring the two cups or afterwards? I’m guessing I made an error there. Thanks!
The batter is very runny which is why it bakes into a moist cake. I don’t sift the flour before measuring out, no.
My usual go-to choc cake recipe is from a well known TV chef and while I won’t put that one aside completely, this one is muuuuuch simpler and really, really yummy.
I just wanted to know where you found dulce de leche in South Africa?
I use Caramel Treat if I can’t find Dulce de Leche.
I really loved this recipe. I did a few things different. First, I used thick cream (like Nestle) in place of milk because I didn’t have any. Turned out really wonderful. Second, I didn’t cool the pan because we all wanted cake- the smell was too enticing! So I served it warm with warm dulche de leche drizzled on top. IT. WAS. AMAZING. Thanks for such an awesome recipe.
Oh yum, sounds amazing served warm!
The recipe was really simple and the cake turned out great! However, it wasn’t possible to decorate the cake with the dulche la leche this great. It runned to just a dulche la leche layer without those frosting technique.
And the dough and consistency inside looked like chocolate pudding but set
Have I done something wrong?
The dulce de leche you used could just be softer than the one that I use. The cake shouldn’t have that texture so I’m not sure what could’ve gone wrong there. I’m happy to hear it still tasted good though! 🙂
I haven’t thought about it but my dulche la leche was probably softer.
Since my whole family still loved the cake I’ll definitely bake it again!
Maybe it’ll turn out the right way this time:)
Absolutely love this recipe. It’s so easy to make and the chocolate cake is by far the most delicious I’ve had. Great recipe!
Love hearing that! 🙂
I’ve made this cake twice already and it’s become my favorite. Such an easy recipe and definitely the best chocolate cake I’ve made.
That’s great to hear, it’s my favorite too!
absolutely loved the cake. Such a hit with my kids too.
Love this recipe. So rich and tasty.
Right? We all love it over here.
Most delicious chocolate cake recipe I’ve tried. I found a can of Nestle La Lecha in my local Trader Joe’s and it worked perfectly as the topping.
Oh that’s great! So happy you could find a local version.
I baked this today and I must say, it is the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve tried. Moist, tender crumb and so rich in flavor. Loved it.
So happy you liked it Anna!