1⁄2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 3⁄4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup store-bought dulce de leche
HOT COCOA ICING:
1⁄2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1⁄2 cups hot cocoa mix
1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
WHIPPED SALTED CARAMEL ICING:
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup store-bought dulce de leche, at room temperature
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
HOT COCOA GLAZE:
2 cups store-bought hot cocoa mix
1⁄4 cup plus 2 teaspoons whole milk, at room temperature, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
How to Make It
Make the Dulce de Leche Cake Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter the pan of your choice or line the pan with wax paper or parchment and butter the paper.
With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 1 minute on high speed, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
Add the sugar to the butter and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl again.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the vanilla; then add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl midway through.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and sea salt in a separate bowl.
With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture. When it’s mostly incorporated, add half the milk. Add the remainder of the dry and wet ingredients, scraping down the bowl between additions. Stop mixing as soon as you have a smooth batter. Add the dulce de leche and mix until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the middle of the cake feels springy if you gently press your finger against it (approximately 30-35 minutes). All ovens are different, so it’s important to do the fingerprint test to see if the cake is done.
Let the cake cool completely before icing.
Make the Hot Cocoa Icing With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter on high speed for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and whip just to incorporate.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa mix, 1 cup at a time, until completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions.
Add the salt and whip on high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Make the Whipped Salted Caramel Icing If possible, chill the bowl and the whisk attachment of a hand or stand mixer for at least half an hour before using. All of your ingredients should be cold.
Pour the cream, vanilla, and dulce de leche and sea salt into the chilled bowl and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
Make the Hot Cocoa Glaze With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the hot cocoa mix, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix on low speed until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add a little more milk to thin it to the desired consistency.
If not using within 10 minutes of mixing, cover the bowl with plastic wrap to keep the glaze from drying out. Store it at room temperature.
Assemble the cake Take a 6-inch round cutter and punch out three circles of cake. Place the first cake round onto your prep surface and pipe hot cocoa icing, leaving a 1/2-inch border of un-iced cake around the edges. Be generous if you love this icing as much as I do. Refrigerate the iced layer for 10 minutes, then repeat with the second layer. Top with the third cake layer. Generously ice the entire cake with salted caramel whipped cream icing (I like to use a pastry bag to evenly distribute). Then finish with hot cocoa glaze, letting it drip down the edges.
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