Crunchy Caramel Popcorn Layer Cake

06:04 December 09, 2015
By: Beau Ciolino

This is a caramel cake that I stuffed with popcorn and coated with a rye whiskey buttercream and then I dumped some salted caramel on it because I'm me and that's that.  It's kind of a sugar rush but in the best way possible and gooey foods are comforting.

Crunchy Caramel Popcorn Layer Cake with Rye Whiskey Buttercream

Makes two 9" round cakes (pictured are 6" rounds)

Caramel Cake

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2.5 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 cup salted caramel sauce (recipe below - or use store bought!)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups caramel popcorn (I used some from my local fancy popcorn place) - this is not used until after the cake is baked.  

Rye Whiskey Buttercream

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup rye whiskey
  • 2 - 3 T milk or heavy cream, optional

Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction)

This makes enough for about 2 cups salted caramel sauce.  1 cup is to be used in the caramel cake, while the rest can be drizzled on top / in between layers of the cake.  

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 T room temperature unsalted butter - cut into twelve pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 t kosher salt

Caramel Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350* and prepare your pans with parchment paper and a little oil.  
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla for about two minutes until fluffy.
  3. Add the melted butter and salted caramel sauce and mix to combine.
  4. Sift in both flours, baking powder, and salt and mix to combine.  Be careful not to over mix the batter, you really want it to just be coming together.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 35 - 40 or minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  

Rye Whiskey Buttercream

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high for one minute.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix to combine.  
  3. Add the whiskey and beat on high for 3 to 5 minutes until extremely light and fluffy.
  4. Add some milk or heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, if you desire a thinner consistency.  Beat for an additional thirty seconds after each added tablespoon.

Salted Caramel Sauce 

  1. Stop everything you are doing and focus solely on making this because if you look away for too long you are going to mess everything up like I did - twice - and then you will probably be sad, twice.
  2. Place the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Using a whisk, constantly stir the sugar, scraping the bottom, until it is completely melted.  It's going to go through weird phases where it turns clumpy, liquidy and maybe even a little brown (if it gets super dark brown at this stage it's started to burn and you may want to start over on a lower heat so that the finished product isn't bitter).  Eventually it'll all liquefy and begin to bubble and brown further (you're looking for a medium - darkish brown like in the pictures above or even a little lighter - but no darker than that).  
  4. Add in the butter and watch as it bubbles and melts.  The saucepan should still be over the heat at this point and you should still be stirring it with your whisk.
  5. Slowly - very slowly - stir in the heavy cream and continue stirring until it's all combined.
  6. Immediately remove from heat and mix in the salt.
  7. Store in the fridge for up to one week.  
  8. It should be smooth, amber-colored, and thin enough to spread but not runny.  


This is pretty straightforward and you can basically assemble this cake however you'd like (I mean, you can always do whatever you'd like, I'm just here for guidance and annoying rambling).  I chose to layer some icing on top of the first layer, and then crunch down a whole bunch of popcorn on top of the icing, followed by a drizzle of the salted caramel sauce and then the second layer.  I then iced the cake with a flat spatula and drizzled about 1/2 cup or so of the salted caramel sauce on top, and then made a little crown of popcorn. 


Check out more amazing recipes from Beau at his website Follow him on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for frequent updates on new recipes.


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