Butterscotch on Butterscotch Cake

July 31, 2010

My daughter has been swept up in the cupcake craze.  Now it’s turning into an all-out baking obsession.  Finding half a bag of butterscotch chips in the pantry, she came up with the idea for a butterscotch cake.  Using our old familiar stand by cake recipe, we just substituted butterscotch for chocolate.  Maybe it’s the difference between butterscotch and chocolate or maybe it’s because the chips were old but it took them a long time to melt and then it took longer than we expected for the cake to bake.

For the frosting, we continued to tweak our buttercream recipe.  We’ve added more sugar/syrup and let it get a bit hotter before adding it to the eggs yolks.  It’s resulted in a stiffer frosting that’s easier to spread and isn’t as likely to turn out too soft.

It is a bit of butterscotch overload.   The frosting is just divine.  I think it’ll be great with chocolate.  I’m already thinking ahead to slathering it on a chocolate cake, along with pecans or walnuts.

First, the cake:

  • Butterscotch Chips, 6 ounces or half a bag
  • Light Brown Sugar, 1 cup
  • Milk, 1/2 cup
  • Egg Yolk
  • Cake Flour, 2 cups
  • Baking Soda, 1 teaspoon
  • Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Butter, 1/2 cup, room temperature
  • Sugar, 1 cup
  • Eggs, 2, separated
  • Milk, 1/2 cup
  • Water, 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla, 1 teaspoon

Combine 1/2 cup milk and one egg yolk.  In small saucepan combine brown sugar and milk/yolk mixture.  Add butterscotch and heat over a low flame, stirring occasionally, until the butterscotch is melted and it starts to thicken.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 and prepare two 9″ round cake pans.  I use Pam for baking in nonstick pans and it works great.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk it together.

Cream one stick of butter until it’s very light and fluffy.  Gradually add the white sugar and continue beating until it’s fluffy.

Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.

Combine the milk, water and vanilla.

On low to medium speed, mix in about a third of the flour mixture followed by a third of the milk mixture.  Continue adding in thirds and mix just until it’s well-blended.

Beat the egg whites until they’re stiff.

Gradually mix in the butterscotch custard just until it’s blended.  Fold in the egg whites.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 30 minutes or more, until a tester comes out clean.

Cool cakes on a wire rack until they’re completely cool.

Now, on to the frosting.  It’s just a few basic ingredients but they sure combine into an amazingly rich confection.  Try not to each too much of it before you get it on the cake.

  • Egg Yolks, 12
  • Unsalted Butter, 1 1/2 cups or 3 sticks
  • Sugar, 3 cups
  • Water, 1 1/4 cups
  • Butterscotch Chips, 12 ounces

Dump the sugar into a small, heavy saucepan and pour in the water.  Don’t stir.  Heat over medium heat and just let it cook but keep an eye on it.

Separate the eggs and put the yolks in the mixer bowl.

Beat the yolks on high speed until they start to lighten and thicken.

Check the temperature of the syrup and take it off the heat at soon as it reaches 252.

Immediately add the syrup to the yolks, pouring it slowly while beating at high speed.  Continue beating until the mixture is thick and completely cool.  It’ll take 20 minutes or so.

Cut each stick of butter into four or five chunks.  On medium speed, beat the butter in one chunk at a time.

Carefully melt the butterscotch in the microwave.  Heat for 20 seconds or so then stir, repeating until it’s melted.

Gradually beat the butterscotch into the buttercream.

Once the cake and the frosting are completely cool, start frosting the cake.  Strips of wax paper under the edges of the cake keep the plate clean and neat.  Spread a generous amount of frosting over the bottom layer.

Place the second layer on top and spread the sides with a thin layer of frosting.  Dump a bunch more on top and spread to the edges.  Remove the wax paper.

Refrigerate for just a bit before serving.  Enjoy!

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pam July 31, 2010 at 2:22 pm

That picture of the melted butterscotch swirling into the buttercream has me salivating. I want to stick a spatula in there and just eat.

I love the method you use for your buttercream. Very different from other versions I have tried. I really need to try this frosting!

Thanks for sharing, and kudos to your daughter for a great looking cake!


2 grace August 1, 2010 at 7:09 am

be still, my butterscotch-loving heart. this might just be my ideal cake…if someone else makes it for me. :)


3 Pocak Panna August 3, 2010 at 3:00 am

Looks divine! It’s a pity we don’t have butterscotch here where I live. But with sugar thermometer, I could manage to prepare it, right?


4 Mary August 4, 2010 at 11:14 am

WOW! This both looks and sounds divine! Delicious!!!

Mary xo


5 Mei Teng August 4, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I came over from Tastespotting. Yummy looking cake.


6 Carla August 5, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Oh, my holy heck… I don’t think it’s humanly possible for that to look more mouthwatering than it does. Butterscotch is on the menu for tonight!


7 Kimberly August 15, 2010 at 4:14 pm

In the ingredients it says 1 tsp baking soda, but in the directions it says baking powder…which is it? Please help!!!


8 Karen Bove August 15, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Oops! It’s baking powder.


9 Karen Bove August 16, 2010 at 9:50 am

It’s baking soda, the Arm and Hammer stuff in the photo. Proof that I shouldn’t write posts or answer comments when I’m tired. Sorry!


10 Sajtkukac August 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm

This is amazing! Unfortunately I haven’t managed to buy any butterscotch chips, it’s difficult to get in Hungary. Do you think it would work if I substitued the butterscotch with dulce de leche?


11 Karen Bove August 17, 2010 at 4:46 pm

I think it sounds terrific with dulce de leche! You might just use it by itself in the cake instead of cooking it together with the egg, milk and sugar?


12 Sajtkukac August 18, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Thanks Karen, that was exactly what I’ve thought. I will definitely try that out!


13 Sarah October 15, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Good Morning!
I was looking over the recipes and came across a question. In the cake, you simply have “egg yolk” listed, but no quantity. In the frosting, you have 12 egg yolks, but the pictures only show seven in the bowl to be whipped. How many egg yolks are needed for the cake and how many are needed for the frosting?


14 Karen Bove October 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Sorry that’s not too clear. One day I’ll become a better proofreader.

The cake has three yolks altogether. They’re listed as one yolk and then two separated eggs. The lone yolk is mixed in with the butterscotch/milk/sugar mixture as it melts and the other two go in with the butter and sugar.

The frosting needs a dozen. We just didn’t get a good photo of all twelve.


15 Sarah October 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Thanks Karen! That cleared it up a lot! I can’t wait to try it this weekend.


16 skin care January 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm

This cake looks very delicious. I have never tasted the flavor of butter scotch in a cake. I think its different but definitely tasty. I appreciate you sharing its recipe and I am dying to prepare it myself. I really liked the way you illustrated its method step by step with pictures.


17 kori February 26, 2011 at 1:47 pm

what temp. do u use????? for baking it u dont say that….. in the recipt


18 Karen Bove February 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm

It’s 350.


19 E J June 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm

After adding the butterscotch to the frosting, my frosting is kind of soupy. Much thinner than it needs to be to spread. I put it in the refrigerator? Maybe add confectioners sugar to thicken it a bit?


20 karenbove June 6, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I’ve never tried the confectioner’s sugar but it might work? This buttercream can be tricky. After making it, or flavoring variations thereof, for years, I think the key is making sure the syrup is hot enough and then letting the egg/sugar mixture get completely thick and cool and before slowly adding the butter.


21 Vicki Simpson July 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Hi Karen,

I’m in Colorado and the cakes didn’t do well here. They sunk in. What altitude are you in?


22 karenbove July 23, 2011 at 5:52 pm

I’m sorry they sunk! I’m in Florida and my altitude is probably about 50 feet. I’ve never lived at high altitudes so I have no experience with adapting recipes. Is there some sort of standard adaptation?


23 Vicki Simpson July 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Oh my gosh! No wonder this didn’t work out. I’m in Colorado at 5,000 ft. above sea level. I found some directions to cook things in high altitudes. I’ll try that. I’ve never had this problem before. I really want this to turn out for this reason… My mother is having her “last” birthday on Saturday. She’s on home hospice. I asked her what kind of cake she wanted and she said butterscotch. So that’s what I’m trying to do. I’ll let you know how they turn out after I make the adjustments.



24 Hanna January 11, 2012 at 9:30 am

Hi Karen,

I want to try this amazing looking cake but in the beginning you write that “it’s a bit of butterscotch overload”. So, would you recommend to add something to the cake that would contrast to the butterscotch taste? It’s gonna be my first experience with butterscotch so I’m not quite sure what goes well with it.


25 karenbove January 11, 2012 at 9:47 am

I think I’d put the butterscotch frosting on a rich chocolate cake?


26 Alyssa April 21, 2012 at 1:02 am

This looks amazing, I have to try this. I’m also swept by the cupcake craze as well. Ever since DC cupcakes came out with a tv show, It made me want to open a cupcake store. Thanks for posting this recipe.


27 Kelli December 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Hi! I tried making this today and had the same “soupy icing” problem as some others. I added 2 cups of powdered sugar to see if it would help and it did somewhat but not nearly enough to spread. So, per my husbands suggestion, I went about finishing it a different way! Butterscotch overload crumb pie. I used one of the 9 in rounds and crumbled it into a pre-made crust then poured half the icing mixture over that and put it in the fridge to set. The other 9 in round and the remainder of the icing will be used as a regular cake once the icing sets in the fridge for a while. :) I can’t wait to dig in. We were already eating the cake and it was amazing! The icing was great too, just too soupy. ;)


28 karenbove December 14, 2012 at 6:32 pm

That buttercream can be tricky. The syrup must be hot enough and the egg/syrup must be thoroughly cooled before adding the butter and even then it’ll sometimes separate. I’m glad you found a way to rescue it!


29 Michelle Graf March 14, 2013 at 2:23 am

So excited to try this recipe today! Allen LOVES butterscotch! I think I’ll try and surprise him with this!


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