Dolley Madison wasn’t just the fourth First Lady of the United States. She also happened to be a national tastemaker and a master of dessert. Among her most renowned recipes, one cake stands above the rest, a cake so good it is worthy of being named after her: the Dolley Madison Cake! Layers of buttery, fluffy, chocolatey cake spread with a deeply rich and sugary caramel icing drizzled hot atop it. Dolley Madison Cake even adds a presidential flair with a topping of crunchy caramel popcorn for an even greater burst of caramel flavor. If you love golden caramel confections, Dolley Madison Cake will have you falling head over heels!

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For the cake:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/3 cups milk, 2%

For the icing:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • caramel popcorn with peanuts mix, optional, for topping


Step 1 –Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 2 –Line the bottoms of two well-greased 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper.

Step 3 –Grease the parchment paper.

Step 4 –In a microwave, melt the chopped chocolate in 15-second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Step 5 –Allow the chocolate to cool slightly.

Step 6 –In a large bowl, cream 1/2 cup of the softened butter with the sugar and 1 cup of brown sugar, until light and fluffy.

Also Read:  Blueberry Cornbread Bars

Step 7 –Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.

Step 8 –Beat in the melted chocolate.

Step 9 –In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, allspice, and cloves.

Step 10 –Add the dry ingredients and the milk to the creamed mixture, alternating between the two with each addition and only adding 1/3 of each at a time, beating well after each addition.

Step 11 –Transfer the batter to the prepared pans.

Step 12 –Bake the pans until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.

Step 13 –Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring the cakes out of the pans and onto wire racks. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

Step 14 –In a small saucepan, combine the remaining brown sugar with the whipping cream and the remaining butter.

Step 15 –Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally and cooking for about 3 minutes.

Step 16 –Transfer the mixture away from the heat, and gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla.

Step 17 –Place one cake layer on a serving plate.

Step 18 –Pour half of the warm icing over the cake.

Step 19 –Top with the remaining cake layer and the remaining icing.

Step 20 –Top with the caramel popcorn mix and serve.