Cuban Espresso Dark Chocolate Cake with Salted Dulce de Leche Buttercream

Recipe by
Cuban Espresso Dark Chocolate Cake with Salted Dulce de Leche Buttercream
Pin It

This recipe was originally written for my son’s 4-H cake project. He was a top 10 and got to auction it off for big bucks! It combines my favorite combination of flavors–dark chocolate, coffee, and caramel.


  • For the Cake
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-1/8 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
  • 2-1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2-1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cup strong hot coffee
  • For the Buttercream
  • 15 oz can Dulce de Leche
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 TBSP meringue powder
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 2-4 TBSP milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Garnish
  • chocolate chips


  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder. In a smaller bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and blend on high for 2 minutes. Whisk or stir in hot coffee. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9" pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before filling & frosting.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine butter, shortening, 3/4 c. dulce de leche, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add meringue powder and half of powdered sugar. Mix on low until sugar is incorporated. Add remaining powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments until completely blended. Add milk as needed to reach desired consistency. Turn mixer to high and allow butter cream to whip for 5 minutes.
  3. With a serrated knife, level the cake be removing domed tops. Split each cake layer in half. Spread even amounts of buttercream between each layer. Frost entire cake. Garnish with chocolate chips. Heat remaining dulce de leche in the microwave for 20 seconds. Pour into a piping or zipper bag. Drizzle dulce de leche over cake.
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
Yield: 8

14 Responses to “Cuban Espresso Dark Chocolate Cake with Salted Dulce de Leche Buttercream”

  1. Donna March 4, 2015 at 11:37 pm #

    LOVE your recipe and want to make it for my friend’s birthday this Friday! Where do you buy meringue powder?

  2. Amyfreeze March 5, 2015 at 7:44 am #

    Meringue Powder is available on the cake decorating aisle at WalMart, Target, Michaels, Joanne’s, etc. The most readily available brand is Wilton and is packaged in small & large cans. If you can’t find it, the buttercream will work just fine without it. Meringue powder simply allows the buttercream to harden/set/crust.

  3. nancyjudd March 5, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    Amy your cake looks gorgeous and sounds devine!!!

  4. Amyfreeze March 5, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    Thank you! That’s actually the one my 11 year old made for 4-H. He’s become quite the cake decorator!

  5. Pris.R August 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    Can I make it into cupcakes?

  6. lexi campbell November 9, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    i love this recipe!

  7. Jayne wenger February 27, 2016 at 8:53 pm #

    Sounds and looks amazing!!! I cannot wait to try it. Your son is a fantastic baker.

  8. Ship March 10, 2016 at 12:19 am #

    Hi. I love love love this cake and want very much to make it. I am very new to baking and certainly nothing this fancy! would you please tell me what you use to create the beautiful design on top and on the side of the cake? would you post photos? I’ve never done this and so as much detail about the tool you and provide would very much help me. Thank you and thank you for sharing your beautiful and I’m sure delicious cake recipe! I cannot wait to make it. I want to make pretty like yours. You are more than welcome to send the photos to my email address provided below. Thank you!

  9. Rachel February 28, 2018 at 9:15 pm #

    Definitely not a high altitude recipe

  10. Susan December 29, 2018 at 9:44 pm #

    Where can I buy this cake in. Us?

  11. Amy Freeze December 30, 2018 at 7:18 am #

    You can’t buy it. It’s a recipe you make for yourself.

  12. Michael R. January 2, 2020 at 11:53 pm #

    Can we make this with regular chocolate instead of dark chocolate? Asking cuz personally I prefer regular over dark chocolate, if its alright I hope you can answer quickly I might make this for a project!!!

  13. Amyfreeze January 3, 2020 at 6:29 am #

    Yes, regular cocoa will work just fine

Leave a Reply