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Salted-Caramel Six-Layer Chocolate Cake

Recipe photo courtesy of Johnny Miller

If you don't own a candy thermometer, this cake offers a good excuse to buy one. It sounds a little nitpicky, but the caramel should reach exactly 238 degrees. (Any less and the cake layers wont hold together properly; any more and the caramel will turn hard.) Precision will also pay off with the chocolate frosting: It achieves its ideal spreading texture after standing for 30 minutes.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2011
Total Time Prep Servings Yield


For the Cake

For the Caramel

For the Frosting


Cook's Notes

To make this cake ahead of time: The caramel can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before using. Cake layers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days (they actually taste better when refrigerated and have a better texture for stacking). When finished, the frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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How would you rate this recipe?
  • MS10342917
    5 APR, 2017
    Yes, a labor-intensive cake, but ultimately amazing. Only slightly annoyed about lack of mention of water in the ingredients list...not a deal-breaker for me. And the frosting for this has become my go-to chocolate frosting. It's stupendously delicious!
  • jennifermartine2
    8 MAY, 2016
    If you have unlimited resources and time, then make this recipe. I was really disappointed with it. I was happy with my Carmel and good thing since I have like a pound of it left over. Save yourself and make a box cake or a much simpler recipe and buy the Carmel in jars... Just like everyone else says here in the comments.
  • MS10870407
    24 FEB, 2016
    I have not made this cake, nor will I as have noticed errors in the ingredients list. Directions for both cake and caramel call for water. Water is not listed in the ingredients list. Is there someone from Martha Stewart who reads these comments and can correct the problem? Some similar comments are from 2015 and still no correction nor clarification.
  • bgmitchell444
    30 AUG, 2015
    There is an error in the directions. The first step says add 1 1/2 cups warm water. It should say 1 1/2 c of buttermilk!
    • hollyesq
      31 AUG, 2015
      I think the error is that water is not included on the ingredient list. I would NOT omit the water and use just the buttermilk.
      • howesbarbara
        5 JAN, 2016
        I just want to be clear about the ingredients before I make this cake, which will be tonight. So you use 1 1/2 cups water, and 1 1/2 cups butter milk?
  • chifle36
    29 AUG, 2015
    Hello Martha, I have made this cake twice and love it. Easy to follow instructions, plus I watched the show when you make the cake so got some great pointers. Although the cake is expensive what do you expect chocolate, sea salt, and caramel. My caramel turned out great cooked it to the exact time and turned out great, love the flavor of it. And I am making it for a friend for her birthday, she loves the cake and can't wait to have it. Thank you again for the great recipe.
  • jimmyfox
    17 MAY, 2015
    Ok. I made it. Here is what I suggest to save you a lot of time and frustration!I tried making that caramel two times! Both times it was a disaster.I tried cutting in half. Still came out bad. Just go buy either Hershey's or Smucker's caramel sauce in a jar.You will need 3, 14 oz. jars. Put in the refridge to thicken and add salt to taste. It's fine.The cakes came out fine. Moist. They sunk a bit. Caramel and layer did not slide. Put in fridge to set. Do a crumb coat. Then frost. Perfect.
  • collw62
    16 MAY, 2015
    I am in the process of making this cake as I am writing this and although water is just water, when it is used in a recipe it is an ingredient so this recipe needs to be corrected~~I am adding it and hoping for the best. Will come back and rate this later but it will loose stars because of the ingredient mistake~~~
  • MS12081581
    10 MAY, 2015
    I made this recipe twice. First time I didn't have Dutch Cocoa, but it came out great. I actually made the cake a day ahead and put in fridge. The next day I made the caramel and frosting. The only problem I had was that I had to cook the caramel longer than said,because my candy thermometer never reached the temperature of 238. I kept cooking to a rolling boil for an extra 10 minutes and it still turned out great. Everyone loved the cake! Thank you Martha! I never go wrong with your recipes.
  • jomo782
    18 APR, 2015
    All I can say is SEVEN CUPS OF SUGAR. And that doesn't count the frosting.
    • MS11385515
      27 MAR, 2016
      I did a little research and besides having seven cups of sugar, this cake has four sticks of butter. By my research, each slice has 1318 calories and 215 grams of cholesterol. But a saving grace--each portion has almost seven grams of protein, almost as much in an egg white. Nevertheless, yum, and for a special occasion.....
  • terrielee616
    30 MAR, 2015
    I made this recipe last night & I am very disappointed. When making the caramel, the first bubble was BLACK. I turned the heat down to med-high & only cooked for 12 min. instead of the suggested 14.With those 2 exceptions, I followed the recipe exactly. Cake came out ok but the caramel was very burnt. I just tried a piece for "breakfast" & it's terrible. The burnt taste totally ruined the whole cake. This was a very expensive cake to make. Not happy with it at all! Water not listed in ingredient
    • jimmyfox
      15 MAY, 2015
      There is a trick to making caramel. I am afraid you did something wrong:( I am a pastry chef. Granted, not all of Martha's recipes turn out great. I have a lot of her baking books. But most are very good. You need to practice. I went to Cordon Bleu and we did caramel. You need to be over that stove. Never stir with a spoon . Use a brush to brush down the sugar crystals on the side of the pan, dipped in water. Get a good candy therm. Use light pan. U can smell if it starts to burn.
      • jimmyfox
        17 MAY, 2015
        I made the cake and I will tell u there is something wrong with that caramel recipe. I even had trouble. Go buy caramel sauce in a jar. That is what I did and it was perfect and says you time!!!!! You need 3 jars and put inn fridge to thicken:)

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