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Dulce de Leche Cake

This dulce de leche cake is the perfect cake for anyone who loves the smooth, rich flavor of dulce de leche (the sweet, addictive caramel-like sauce popular in Latin America)!

Dulce de Leche Cake

My dulce de leche cake is a browned butter vanilla sheet cake topped with a generous helping of dulce de leche. The cake is wonderful on its own, but once the dulce de leche is added, it becomes outrageously good.

Dulce de leche tastes very similar to caramel so if you LOVE caramel cake, you will love dulce de leche cake.

What Makes This Dulce De Leche Cake Special?

Dulce de leche cake

Many people use a tres leches cake as the base for their dulce de leche cake. That is totally delicious, but it is more of a tres leches cake that happens to have dulce de leche on it.

This cake is all about the dulce de leche!

Which Type of Dulce de Leche Should I Use on This Cake?

Three different dulce de leches

When you make your own dulce de leche, it can be really thin like a syrup, or more of a spreadable consistency like peanut butter. For this cake, it is important that you use a thicker dulce de leche. I use the one that I make in my Instant Pot and it works perfectly.

Most of the store-bought dulce de leche that you find will be thick and will work just fine.

How to Make Dulce de Leche Cake

In order to make this dulce de leche cake, you’ll need to start by browning butter.

Browning Butter

To brown the butter, place it in a skillet on medium heat.

Two sticks of butter starting to melt on a skillet

Continue to heat the butter, stirring periodically. It will start to boil with big bubbles.

butter boiling in a skilletThen, the bubbles will get smaller.

smaller bubbles

Raise the heat slightly at this point and keep a close eye on the butter. Once the butter turns more brown, remove it from the heat immediately.

browned butter in a glass bowl

Cool the browned butter in the fridge (for an hour) or the freezer (for 10-15 minutes) in a shock-resistant container until it is back to feeling like a slightly softened stick of butter.

Making the Cake

Whisk together the dry ingredients (sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in the bowl of a stand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use an electric hand mixer or even mix by hand.

You can substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour in equal amounts. The cake will be just a little bit more dense. Cake flour is a finely milled delicate flour. It is best for desserts that are more light and airy.

Whisking Dry Ingredients

Mix in the browned butter.

Adding browned butter to dry ingredients

Whisk together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. This includes the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.

Whisking eggs, sour cream, and vanilla

Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

It’s very important to not overmix the batter at this point. Mix until just combined; overmixing the batter can have a dramatic effect on the end result. An overmixed cake will end up squat and dense. See my post on overmixing cake batter for more details.

Adding wet ingredients to dulce de leche cake

Add milk to the batter, again mixing until just combined. Proper cake batter is very thin – almost liquid.

Tip: While whole milk will provide the richest flavor, any milk you have in the house will work fine.

Adding milk to dulce de leche cake batter

Grease a cake pan with non-stick baking spray and pour the batter into the pan, making sure that it is distributed evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Topping with Dulce de Leche

Just before serving, spread dulce de leche evenly over the cake.

Spreading dulce de leche on cake

Important tip: After the dulce de leche sits on the cake for a few hours, it will begin to absorb into the cake. This makes the cake even more delicious, but it doesn’t look as pretty because the dulce de leche is no longer sitting on top of the cake.

Dulce de Leche Cake Variations

You can make a dulce de leche buttercream frosting with some butter and powdered sugar. See my post on dulce de leche frosting for details.

Dulce de leche frosting

As I mentioned earlier, you can also top a tres leches cake with dulce de leche for a special treat!

You can also substitute the dulce de leche with cajeta. Cajeta is made the same way as dulce de leche but with goat’s milk. It’s very common in Mexico.

Lastly, you can also experiment with a dulce de leche chocolate cake like the one from Barbara Bakes.

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5 from 3 votes

Dulce de Leche Cake

A browned butter vanilla cake topped with decadent dulce de leche
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword dulce de leche cake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Calories 175kcal
Author Stef

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract use pure, not imitation
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 14 ounces dulce de leche

Instructions

  • Melt butter over medium heat in a small skillet or heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Continue to heat the butter, stirring periodically, until it turns brown (10-15 minutes). The butter will first boil with big bubbles (it’s not done then). Then, the bubbles will get smaller.
  • Turn up the heat slightly and monitor closely until the butter looks more brown (that’s when it’s done).
  • Remove butter from heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a shock-proof container and chill until softened, one hour in the refrigerator or 10-15 minutes in the freezer.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add browned butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Be sure to scrape down the side of the bowl as needed to make sure that everything is incorporated into the batter.
  • Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined.
  • Spread batter evenly in a well-greased 9" square cake pan.
  • Bake for 20 minutes and then test to see if the cake is done. It is done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. If it is not done, test again in four minutes. If it is still not done, test again in another two minutes.
  • When the cake is done, place it on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don't own a cooling rack) to cool to room temperature.
  • Spread dulce de leche evenly over cooled cake just before serving.

Notes

When you make your own dulce de leche, it can be really thin like a syrup or more of a spreadable consistency like peanut butter. For this cake, it is important that you use a thicker dulce de leche. I use the one that I make in my Instant Pot and it works perfectly.
Most of the store-bought dulce de leche that you find will be thick and work just fine.
After the dulce de leche sits on the cake for a few hours, it will begin to absorb into the cake. This makes the cake even more delicious, but it doesn't look as pretty because the dulce de leche is no longer sitting on top of the cake.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Dulce de Leche Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 175 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Cholesterol 39mg13%
Sodium 124mg5%
Potassium 79mg2%
Carbohydrates 23g8%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 253IU5%
Calcium 40mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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3 comments on “Dulce de Leche Cake”

  1. This looks absolutely delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely great! I have just bought condensed milk literary 30 minutes ago to make our portion of dulce de leche from scratch and then I found this beauty ! Perfect idea! Perfect timing. Thank you so much and enjoy your day :-)

  3. 5 stars
    WOW!!! this recipe looks very much delicious. I think this recipe is not only to look but also to eat. Thank you so much for posting such a delicious recipe.

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