Caramel Macchiato Cake

This caramel macchiato cake has everything you love about the classic Starbuck drink: 3 layers of rich espresso cake, sweetened milk frosting and dulce de leche filling.

  • Author: Claire of The Simple, Sweet Life
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: One 6" Cake - 14 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American



For the espresso cake:

  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp espresso powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 1 can (14 oz) dulce de leche

For the frosting:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 3 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, cold
  • 3-4 tbsp sweetened condensed milk


  1. Sift together the flour and baking powder.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs and granulated sugar.
  3. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water and cook until the egg/sugar mixture is hot (about 10 minutes).
  4. While the mixture cooks, combine the milk and espresso powder. Microwave until the mixture is warm and then whisk the espresso powder in until it has completely dissolved.
  5. Place the bowl with the sugar/egg back on the stand mixer and whip until the mixture has cooled to room temperature (about 10 minutes).
  6. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Add the remaining ingredients (milk/espresso powder, vegetable oil and vanilla extract) and mix on low until just combined.
  7. Grease and line three 6" cake pans and split the batter between them (if you like to weigh out your batter like I do, you should have right around 9.3oz of batter in each pan).
  8. Bake at 350F for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. To make the frosting, combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan.
  10. Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup is completely clear.
  11. While the syrup cooks, whip your egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until stiff peaks form.
  12. On high, pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl and into the egg whites. Continue to whip on high until the mixture has cooled to room temperature (about 15 minutes).
  13. On low, begin adding small slices of the butter until all the butter has been added.
  14. Whip the frosting on high until it becomes a thick frosting (it'll look curdled at first, but don't worry. Just keep on whipping).
  15. Turn the mixer down to low, add the sweetened condensed milk, and continue whipping until the frosting is completely smooth.
  16. To assemble the cake, level your layers of cake, spread a thick layer of frosting and use a spoon to carve out some of the frosting in the center. You want to create a shallow area in the center to hold the dulce de leche and keep it from running out over the sides.
  17. Repeat for the second layer of cake.
  18. Once all three layers are assembled, give the cake a crumb coat and allow to crust in the refrigerator (about 15 minutes).
  19. Frost the rest of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  20. To create the dulce de leche swirl, spoon 2-3 tablespoons onto the top. Use an offset spatula to work it out towards the edges.
  21. Use an offset spatula to add dulce de leche to the sides of the cake, pulling it down diagonally. Repeat around the top edge of the cake until the whole cake is covered.


  • Making your own dulce de leche: If you can't find store-bought dulce de leche, you can make your own by cooking a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of boiling water for 3 hours. Make sure the can is always submerged during the cooking process.
  • Measure your batter: Making even layers of cake start with measuring your batter. For this recipe, that means about roughly 9.3oz of batter per pan (for three pans).
  • Chill your cake: Cool cake is easier to cut and handle, so chilling your cake for a short while before use will make this process easier.
  • Crumb coat: Spreading a thin layer of frosting around the sides and top of the cake, and then refrigerating it will lock in any crumbs and keep them from reaching the surface of your frosted cake.
  • Air bubble-free frosting: If the frosting has a lot of air bubbles, reduce the speed on your stand mixer to low and beat for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth.
  • The trick for smooth frosting: You’ll need a rotating cake stand and a bench scraper. Place the small end of the bench scraper on the cake stand, long end against the frosting and turn the table. Once excess frosting is removed, heat the scraper in hot water, wipe and drag around the outside of the cake.
  • Storage: This cake will keep at room temperature, uncut, for 3-4 days. For best results, cover it with a plastic lid, bowl or place it in a cardboard box. This is easiest if you don’t add the cookies until you’re ready to serve.
  • Storing cut cake: Once your cake is cut, you’ll want to protect the exposed cake area. The easiest way to do this is with a piece of plastic wrap or two.

Cake recipe adapted from Miette (2011), pg. 26