This gooey chocolate caramel cake is intensely rich and fudgy. Baked to gooey perfection with a layer of homemade caramel in the middle.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 ½ cups white sugar
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda (divided)
- 1 ¾ teaspoon salt (divided)
- 2/3 cup butter flavored shortening
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft or melted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup salted butter
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)
- Cake: Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Stir until well combined. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture (I just used my fingers) until very fine crumbs form. It should look like a cake mix. Add the unsalted butter and milk; mix until a thick dough forms.
- Caramel: Melt the salted butter over medium low heat. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to a very low boil, stirring constantly. Let it cook over very low, gentle heat, so that the mixture is just barely bubbling if at all. If you heat it too much, it won’t stay soft in the bars, so just heat it enough to thicken it slightly. After about 10 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in ½ teaspoon baking soda. The caramel will foam and bubble – stir or whisk until it’s thick and creamy and mostly smooth.
- Layer and Bake: Preheat the oven to 350. Spread half of the batter on the bottom of your baking dish. Cover with the chocolate chips and a layer of caramel (I recommend using about 2/3 of the batch that you just made and reserving the rest for something else). Spoon the rest of the dough over the caramel layer and spread until the pan is evenly covered. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on your pan size and how gooey you want it (see notes).
- Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes before serving. Store at room temperature to keep it soft; it will firm up a little bit as you let it rest.
Gooey-ness: I photographed the finished cake the next day to allow time for it to stick together better. This cake will not set up as a normal cake would – it is fudgy and GOOEY. As a less-gooey alternative, you could bake the bottom cake layer for a few minutes ahead of time (maybe 5-10) to get a more firm, solid brownie-like base.
Top layer: It is difficult to spread the dough over the warm caramel without making a huge mess. Drop the dough in spoonfuls evenly over the top before trying to spread it into a top layer.
Baking dish: I used a square 9-inch glass baking dish. It was the perfect thickness, in my opinion, but it bubbled over the sides while baking so if you use this size you’ll want to put a pan underneath it. If you use a 9×13 pan, you wouldn’t need to bake it as long.