The ultra smooth caramel chocolate ganache, fluffy whipped cream filling, and rich chocolate cake make this a dessert to write home about.
salted caramel ding dong cake

I was always more of a Hostess cupcake girl.

But with two rich chocolate cake layers covered in salted caramel ganache and stuffed with a vanilla bean filling? I could be a Ding Dong convert. Easy.


Of course, not the actual Ding Dong (or Ring Dings, as they were also called depending on whether it was before or after Hostess merged with Drake. And then un-merged. And then merged again.) because who knows what weirdo strange ingredients make these shelf stable over 500 (million) years.

But an epic cake that resembles the childhood treat if you squint really hard and convince yourself that those little shrink-wrapped pieces of chocolate cardboard actually tasted good.

Except…this cake does taste good. Like, SO.GOOD.


If you have any more Christmas fêtes, New Year’s Eve parties, or just a lazy Friday afternoon (ahem) ahead of you, then I definitely recommend this cake tag along with you. I mean, if you want to make jaws drop, that is.

It tends to have that effect on people.


One year ago…Lasagna of Fall Vegetables, Gruyere and Sage Bechamel, Broccolini with Tofu, Sesame and Coriander

Two years ago…Garlic-Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Wheatberry Salad with Pomegranate

Three years ago…Standing Rib Roast with Porcini and Bacon Sauce, Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale

Four years ago…Chocolate-Dipped Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti

Salted Caramel Ding Dong Cake
The ultra smooth caramel chocolate ganache, fluffy whipped cream filling, and rich chocolate cake make this a dessert to write home about.
Yield: 12 servings
For the cake
  • 1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup hot strong coffee
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
For the caramel ganache
  • 9 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1⅛ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling and assembly
  • 1¼ tsp unflavored (kosher/vegan) gelatin
  • 1½ cups chilled heavy cream
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • flaky sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with baking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment and then coat the paper with spray.
  2. For the cake, place the cocoa powder and chocolate in a medium metal bowl. Pour the hot coffee over them and let sit for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl in 3 additions, alternating with the chocolate mixture. Divide the batter evenly between the two greased pans and smooth the tops.
  5. Bake the cakes until a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool in cake pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the cakes to loosen and then invert onto wire racks. Peel off the paper and let cool completely. Turn cakes over. If needed, use a long serrated knife to cut off any bumps or dome from the top of each cake so that it is flat and even.
  6. For the caramel ganache, place the chocolate and salt in a medium bowl. Stir the sugar and ¼ cup of water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is deep amber, about 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream. Return to the heat, stirring until caramel dissolves. Pour over the chocolate. Add the vanilla and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly.
  7. Place one cake layer in a springform pan. Pour 1 cup of the ganache over it. Chill until set, about 30 minutes. Cover the remaining ganache and let sit at room temperature.
  8. For the filling, place 2 tbsp cold water in a small heatproof bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin into it and let stand until soft, about 10 minutes.
  9. Microwave the bowl with the gelatin in it until it dissolves, 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
  10. Place the cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add the vanilla bean paste. Beat until soft peaks form. Stir in the gelatin and beat until firm peaks form.
  11. Spoon the filling over the chilled ganache in the pan. Smooth the top. Gently top with the second cake layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill until cream is set, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  12. Remove the sides from the springform pan. Scrape off any filling that might have leaked out of the sides so that they are smooth. Transfer the cake to a wire rack.
  13. Rewarm the remaining ganache until it is just pourable (not scalding!). Pour the ganache over the cake so that it drips down the sides. Chill until ganache is set, about 1 hour. Sprinkle cake with flaky sea salt before serving.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice


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129 Responses to Salted Caramel “Ding Dong” Cake

  1. You had me at ‘ding dong’! Such s gorgeous cake, it looks so worth the effort.

  2. Oh my goodness — this looks wonderful. I love the addition of salt, as well.

  3. My mouth is watering Joanne! Why should I have read this right before lunchtime, I’m starving!
    I’m bookmarking it and pinning it in order to make it for an upcoming party yeah. I’s totally make it this afternoon, but I’m sure I’d be able to eat it all by myself and oh, well, that seems dangerous! ;–)

  4. Holy cow does this cake look amazing, I want to climb into my computer!

  5. I’m not 100% certain what a ding dong is, but this cake looks superb!

  6. daphne says:

    How not to love this?!!?! Perfect post christmas calories I say!

  7. Now this is Heaven!! would love a piece right now with my coffee! Great recipe!:)

  8. debbie says:

    I have always been a ring ding fan and and devil dog fan. I chose to turn away and not read the ingredients!!! This cake looks perfect. I think I know some people that would kill for a slice of this!!! lol…

  9. OMG!! My gosh Joanne, this cake, oh this cake, looks amazing! I would have no control over it! I would have to eat the whole thing! It looks just incredible!!

  10. Oh, how yummy!Happy holidays!

  11. I was always a ding dong/ring ding girl (even though I probably haven’t had one in 20 years). This cake is calling my name….totally love it!

  12. this is really jaw dropping..eso that filling. I will have to pin this for some special occasion as you know I am sugared-out for a while.

  13. I’d type a legitimate comment here but I have to hold up my dropped jaw with one hand as I stare at this cake. HOLY YUM.

  14. cassie says:

    This is so fun, Joanne!!

  15. danielle says:

    Id like to place an order – Ill take one of these for my birthday next week – please 🙂

  16. Susan says:

    I was never one for ding dongs but this right here has changed my mind.

  17. Karen says:

    Looks amazing. What, though, is vanilla paste and can I substitute vanilla extract?

  18. sandra says:

    many a time i have been tempted to pick one of those leaps into childhood memories off the shelf only to remember that i am now an adult and wont be happy with myself once it is gone. this cake looks just delicious.

  19. Oooh! This looks delicious! I love the idea of making a caramel ganache!

  20. Omg a ding dong cake! Please move to Jersey and be my neighbor!

  21. Shannon says:

    ooh that caramel ganache and filling- i’ll just take that 🙂

  22. Woman!
    This is one heavenly creation.
    Good job.
    Is there any left?

  23. I think I am in love with this cake. I have never even heard of ding dongs, but I would take this over store bought anything any day 😉

  24. Oh, my. Feel free to deliver any portion of that to Brooklyn.

  25. Sues says:

    This is out of this world!! So much better than a store bought baked good. SO MUCH!!

  26. OMG- this is such a tease- like I want a piece NOW!

  27. Hotly Spiced says:

    I’ve never heard of a ding dong cake but now I want to try one. This is stunning, Joanne. I love the layers. I know I’d like the flavour too. xx

  28. this looks insane. Dude, I would take this anyday over a hostess. I don’t know how you come up with these fantastic recipes. You’re very creative.

  29. Gah, looks delicious, as always, Joanne. 🙂

  30. Homemade always beats processed! This cake is gorgeous. And that ganache – yum!

  31. Did I read “salted caramel”, and then see a chocolate cake? I don’t need anything else to be convinced! 🙂

    Nice pictures too.

  32. Christina says:

    I once made a Hostess Orange Cupcake layer cake and wasn’t particularly pleased with the filling. I think I did a pastry cream lightened with whipped cream, but this filling is more what I had in mind. I just want to make a cake right now and fill it with all the filling. The fudgy-looking cake part, that’s actually from the ganache, just makes me SO hungry.

    Please leave a slice on your doorstep (or apartment doorstep) for me.

  33. Hannah says:

    Ha! So, being Australian, “ding dong” actually means, well, the male genitalia. Is it bad that I was mildly disappointed to learn you meant a packaged snack?

  34. Deena Kakaya says:

    Ooh, that looks so moist and scoffable! I love the deep colour. Xx

  35. Candace says:

    There are no words to adequately describe how much I love this cake, Joanne. Yum! Happy New Year to you and the boy. I hope someone makes this cake for my birthday next year. I’m starting with the hints today. 😉

  36. Foodiewife says:

    I do love your vegetarian recipes, a lot. But, you are woman after my heart when you bake. I’ve got such an itch to bake a spectacular cake. Between this one and the champagne cake, you’re killing me woman!

  37. Christine says:

    Oh, the sheer decadence of it! No kidding that it’d make jaws drop. So utterly delicious looking! You just amaze me, hope The.Boy is equally as wow-ed.

  38. Monica says:

    This is definitely a “wow” of a cake. Got my attention quick!

  39. What a glorious chocolate cake! Really love the rich, moist texture.
    Happy New Year, Joanne!

  40. Kate says:

    Personally I’m an Oatmeal Creme Pie girl, but I could go for a ding dong like this.

  41. Omg. This is just plain sorcery. *faints*

  42. Oh my goodness, I’m in love with this. It’s been a gazillion years since I’ve eaten (or even seen) a Ding Dong. I love this!

  43. Simply Life says:

    Oh man, this cake looks dangerously decadent and delicious! How I would live to dig into a piece right now!

  44. Simply life says:

    Also, this cake made me wonder what you’ll be having for your wedding dessert…and food….I do hope you share!!!

  45. Oh my god, this actually does look like the ding dong cakes! The texture of the cake and the icing!! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  46. Oh my goodness. Caramel ganache and that vanilla filling. I need this for breakfast now!

  47. Woah, girl! This cake is calling my name. Ugh, I’m drooling!

  48. This is probably the last thing I need after eating 8 million cookies, but it’s exactly what I want. Once every year or two, I get tricked into thinking some kind of snack cake sounds delicious, but they’re always disappointing. This definitely would not disappoint!

  49. Holly wow – an interlude with that filling and caramel ganache would indeed be a divine moment!
    This looks wonderful! A definite crowd pleaser!

  50. This cake makes me cry tears of joy at how delicious it looks. WOWZA.

  51. Eileen says:

    CAKE! I can’t say I was ever into either ding dongs OR hostess cupcakes, but I can definitely get behind a big, beautiful, cream-stuffed chocolate bomb like this. Hooray!

  52. Kristi says:

    Ummm… I think this is the best recipe yet. I cannot wait to try this recipe out. You outdid yourself on this one.

  53. Yasmeen says:

    This looks so tempting! I can never resist a slice of cake, or two…or maybe just the whole thing! Lovely recipe 🙂

  54. Wendy says:

    Gorgeous cake that has everyone drooling, Joanne! Pinned. 🙂 Ding dongs were always my husbands favorite. I, on the other hand, always just peeled off the chocolate coating and ate that! This chocolate coating looks WAY better. I will need a spoon. 🙂

  55. KATHY says:

    Oh I love the decadence of this beautiful cake! What could be better than chocolate…salted caramel chocolate…that’s what!! Happy New Year to you, Joanne!

  56. Abby says:

    This is happening this weekend. Happy New Year!

  57. What a master piece. It looks really spongy like and super chocolatey 🙂 I wish I could have a HUGE piece right about now!!

  58. This version is a winner! Love the flavour combination 🙂

  59. Kathryn says:

    Totally making this – I can’t resist anything with salted caramel.

  60. such a fabulous cake!! holy cow does it sound delicious!

  61. The layers of this cake are just perfect. Now that’s some winter indulgence!

  62. patsy says:

    I’m conflicted on whether I should show this one to my boys! I think they would be clammering for me to make it today!

  63. This looks too good to be true.

  64. The icing on this cake – omg, yum! It looks beautiful and so delicious!

  65. Wow! I am not a ding dong girl, but this cake has made my jaw drop!

  66. Hannah says:

    This cake is the stuff of legends, and dreams! One of my favorite parts about my internship at Bon Appetit was unlimited access to all the back issues, and I did especially relish that cake feature. Still one of my favorites to date. You really did it justice, and then some!

  67. Reeni says:

    This puts ding dongs right to shame! What a gorgeous cake! I wouldn’t mind sinking my teeth into a slice right now even though I swore I couldn’t eat any more sugar for a while. This is far too tempting!

  68. Wow! This looks like a dessert to die for!!! Yum!

  69. Haley L says:

    This looks phenomenal! I have to try it!

  70. This is definitely a jaw-dropping cake! Happy New Year!

  71. I’m a sucker for layer cakes! What a beauty this one is.

  72. Johanna GGG says:

    yes it certainly made my jaw drop – looks amazing and I just want one teeny slice please – never heard of ding dongs but if they are this good I want one too

  73. This is gorgeous! And, I loved Ding Dongs when I was a kid. I can still remember how exciting it was to peel away that little foil wrapper!

  74. Be still my heart! Where has this cake been all my life? 😉 Definitely need an excuse to make this gorgeous thing.

  75. gloria says:

    this cake look absolutely amazing Joanne!

  76. Lora says:

    Wow what an upgrade from the original.

  77. I actually don’t know what ding dongs are (I must have missed them on our US trip!?) but if they are like this cake, then I am all in favour. And salted caramel…always a winner 🙂

  78. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    I already loved ding-dongs but homemade and adding salted caramel?? I’m in heaven

  79. I actually pinned this from BA recently, but I’m totally pinning your version, too. It looks SO dang good!

  80. grace says:

    that filling is super duper, joanne! bravo, and happy 2014!

  81. step 1. stare at cake with glazed eyes.

    step 2. drool

    step 3. faceplant into cake.

    step 4. die of happiness

  82. Kim says:

    I tried making this cake tonight. Everything went well, except for the gelatin in the whipped cream filling. I followed your directions, but when I added the softened/dissolved gelatin to the whipped cream, it hardened and went gummy. I was using Knox unflavored gelatin—was that the problem?

    • joanne says:

      I’m so sorry you had problems with the gelatin!! Generally if something goes wrong with adding it, it’s because it wasn’t hot enough. Did you add it immediately after you microwaved it? I usually get my whipped cream to where I want it to be, then microwave the gelatin, then add it with the mixer still running. Hope this helps!!

      • Teri says:

        I had the same problem with the gelatin. Wondered if its because I stirred the gelatin when added to water instead of sprinkling? My gelatin was strings of glue had to pull out the strands.

  83. Beth says:

    First of all, the name of your blog is hilarious. Second, my birthday is this week and I’m totally making this for it! Thank you, thank you!

  84. […] think I want to try to make this cake for Zack’s birthday later this […]

  85. Dina says:

    every element of this cake looks amazing. the chocolate cake part looks like a great recipe for chocolate cake and that caramel mousse is divine!

  86. Ok, I’m finally trying to catch up on my blog-commenting…starting with this AMAZING looking caker. Seriously that texture. I need some in my life today. I’m marking this down for sure as the hubs loves both choco and caramel. MMM!!!!

  87. Looks decadent and who doesn’t love childhood memories. This is on the to do list.

  88. […] Salted Caramel “Ding Dong” Cake from Eats Well With Others […]

  89. sara says:

    I made this cake last weekend, and it turned out AMAZING! Thanks for the tip about the gelatin, the filling was perfect. This was even better than I expected, thank you so much for such an awesome recipe! You’ve got yourself a lifelong fan!

  90. Derrell says:

    What brand and who sells unflavored (kosher/vegan) gelatin?

  91. […] sun is shining and I’m going to have the BEST eggs benny in town for breakfast and then THIS for lunch and dinner. I’m going to soak up the love from friends and family and I’m […]

  92. Wendy Lewis says:

    I saw this on Pinterest and just knew I had to eat it. It looked more complicated than I was willing to ask my mom to take on, so I went ahead and made it for my own birthday. Was sooo worth it! However, I am horrible at remembering to read carefully through a recipe all the way through before I begin, and so missed the parts about chilling and cooling. I managed to get it done from start to eating in under 7 hours, but I think the rushing of it all, which I had to use my fridge and freezer each at certain points, dried out the cake part some. Is that what it was, you think? I just want to make sure it wasn’t something else along baking the cake that I might have done that made it dry. I have been asked to make it for a baked good auction at my church this weekend!

    • joanne says:

      I’m so glad you made and liked the cake! I’m so sorry about it being a tad dry…it is definitely possible that the multiple temperature changes dried it out. Also, are you measuring your ingredients by volume or by weight? Sometimes with all that cocoa powder, if you’re measuring by volume, it’s easy to add a bit more than is required and that can definitely dry out a cake. I would try erring on the side of a little less cocoa powder than the recipe calls for versus a little more, if you’re using a measuring cup.

      Hope that helps! Definitely let me know how it turns out if you make it for this weekend!

      • Wendy Lewis says:

        It was a success! I was able to budget my time better and not rush it. I also used slightly less cocoa powder and flour than before ( I CAN be heavy handed with those) and used a tiny bit more buttermilk. It came out super moist and just perfect. It is SO hard not to devour the ganache with a spoon! At the church dessert auction, it went for more than any other dessert there! Thanks so much for your help!

  93. […] Salted Caramel Ding Dong Cake from Eats Well With Others […]

  94. I’m making the cake this weekend, found it on Pinterest 🙂 Hope my father in law will like it, it is his birthday 🙂

    I’ll let you now how we liked it 😉

  95. […] INGREDIENTS (adapted from Eats Well With Others): […]

  96. […] used this recipe for the chocolate/caramel ganache and the stiff whipped cream filling from the blog Eats Well With […]

  97. Brooke says:

    Do you think using hot chocolate instead of coffee would work? I can’t have the caffeine that’s in coffee and neither can my nieces…

    • joanne says:

      Definitely!! Let me know how it turns out!

    • Sherry says:

      Use decaf if you can’t have caffeine! Anyway, I have a much simpler recipe that I get asked to make a lot. It doesn’t use gelatin or vanilla paste. It is made in 3 or 4 layers if you want to make it more complicated. It taste fantastic… And youcan add sea salt to anything! The one on here is probably amazing if you have the time but I don’t see where there is anything that would make it better than mine. I will try it though, I am not judging, just a little lazy or more busy. 🙂

  98. I’ve been looking for a perfect over the top, insanely delicious chocolate birthday cake recipe and this looks like the cake to make! It looks so fudgy and chocolatey. Thanks for sharing!

  99. Melinda says:

    Just wondering what I could substitute for the coffee? This looks delicious but I do not like coffe taste!

  100. Mary Ann says:

    Hi, can I use Agar Agar for the vegan gelatin? I’m having a hard time finding it locally. Thanks.

    • joanne says:

      Are you are vegetarian? If not, then you can just use regular gelatin.

      If so, you can try using the agar agar. Honestly, I haven’t worked with it much but I think it should work essentially the same as vegan gelatin. Good luck!

    • Cheryl says:

      As far as I know, no gelatin is vegan, kosher or not. It may be marketed as such, but I’ve seen that, in part, because it’s gone through so many “significant changes”, it’s no longer considered meat/animal. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, stay away from gelatin.

      • joanne says:

        Thanks for your feedback. You’re right, that many Kosher gelatins are actually animal-based but the brand that I used was agar agar based and was being marketed as kosher gelatin. As far as I know, agar agar is vegetarian/vegan but maybe I am mistaken?

  101. Sofía says:

    Joanne! Will I have the same results if I use gluten free flour??

  102. Katie says:

    Can you tell me what “stirring until caramel dissolves” means?

    • joanne says:

      As soon as you add the cream to the caramel, it will seize and harden. If you continue to stir it over the heat, the hardened caramel will dissolve as it heats and will become liquid again. That is what you are going for. Does that make sense?

  103. […] her blog on a regular basis, that should definitely change. Some of my favorite posts include her Salted Caramel “Ding Dong” Cake, Bananas Foster Chia Pudding and this Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion […]

  104. Holy ding dong. . oh my gawd, this cake is insane. in all the right ways. . wow!

  105. Kim says:

    I tried to make the carmel for the ganache twice, but both times it turned to white rock candy before it turned amber. Not sure what I did wrong. I just made a chocolate ganache instead and it turned out great! Any idea where I went wrong?

    • joanne says:

      I’m so sorry you had trouble with the caramel!! It can be a bit tricky in general. Did the sugar ever melt at all? What size pan did you use? I find that if the pan is too small, the bottom layer of sugar melts and then sticks to the top so it just forms the white rocks you were talking about.

      Also, did you stir as you were making it? It is best not to stir and just sort of swirl the pan around.

      • Shelby says:

        I had the same problem. The recipe says to add the cream AFTER the sugar had turned deep amber, but I believe when I’ve made caramel before, you have to add a fat with the sugar to get it to turn amber…

        • joanne says:

          Thanks so much for letting me know about your issue! I’ve always made caramel the way it is described in the recipe…the cream should stop the cooking of the sugar so that it doesn’t burn, but I do think the sugar needs to spend some time directly on the heat to burn and caramelize. I’m going to revisit the caramel recipe since it seems like so many people are having issues with it and I made it a few years ago now, but in the meantime, why don’t you try one of these, which are a bit more foolproof: or

          The methods are slightly different than the first, but I’ve never seen any that add the cream in with the sugar, though if you have one that you love, I’d love to try it!

          Caramel is definitely tricky and I’ve found that it really can be problematic depending on which pan I use, whether it’s distributing the heat evenly enough, and whether it’s big enough that the sugar can be spread in a thin layer. Hope this helps!

  106. Shelby says:

    I take it back…i just kept cooking it and the hard rock sugar did begin to dissolve and turned into caramel. I think I should have used a wider and shallower pan.

  107. Theresa says:

    I made the cake this afternoon and everything seemed to be going fine but after baking, the middle of the cake was hard and the outside spongy. As they cool, the entire center has concave. When I tested them while in the oven both centers came out clean so I’m not sure what’s causing the sinking

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