banana chocolate chip dulce de leche cake recipe
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This chocolate chip birthday cake recipe is fantastic any way you dress it up, but instead of buttercream frosting, why not try dulce de leche, whipped cream, and bananas?

Birthday cakes should be big and decadent, and this one totally fills the bill. I sprinkle loads of semisweet chocolate chips into a sour cream–enriched vanilla butter cake batter, then spread the cake layers with gooey dulce de leche, sweet sliced bananas, and vanilla whipped cream. It looks impressive and tastes like a party.

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Chocolate Chip Birthday Cake with Bananas and Dulce de Leche

Makes one (8- or 9-inch) three-layer cake, plenty for 8 to 10 guests

  • 1 recipe Vanilla Butter Cake with Chocolate Chips (recipe follows)
  • 2 (11-ounce) jars dulce de leche or thick caramel sauce (you can also double our easy dulce de leche recipe; leftovers are great on ice cream)
  • 3 ripe yet firm bananas, peeled and sliced on a slight diagonal, about 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 recipe Whipped Cream Filling (recipe follows)

To assemble the cake:

Place a cooled cake layer on a stand or presentation platter. Spread with a third of the dulce de leche or caramel sauce. Cover evenly with a layer of banana slices. Carefully spread with a third of the Whipped Cream Filling. Place the second layer on top; repeat the layers of dulce de leche and bananas. Repeat with the third layer, decorating the top of the cake with just a few banana slices or a sprinkle of chocolate chips (or both).

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Vanilla Butter Cake with Chocolate Chips

Makes 2 or 3 (9-inch) cake layers, or 3 extra-high 8-inch layers (that’s the one shown here)

  • 3 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for coating the pans
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Generously butter three 8-inch-by-2-inch or 9-inch-by-2-inch round cake pans (you can also use two 9-inch pans to make thicker cakes which you can split for four layers total). Line the bottoms of the cake pans with a circle of parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment and dust with flour; tap the side of the pans on the countertop to dislodge any excess flour.

3. Onto a sheet of parchment, sift together the measured flour and baking powder.

4. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the measured butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until lightened and fluffy.

5. Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times while beating.

6. On low speed, add half of the dry ingredients and beat until combined.

7. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla.

8. Add the remaining dry ingredients and the chocolate chips, beating until combined.

9. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. You can make sure they are divided easily by using a scale to weigh them.

10. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

11. Let cool in the pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes.

12. Invert the cakes onto the racks, peel off the parchment, and let cool before frosting.

Butter Cake Variations

  • To make a plain vanilla cake, omit the chocolate chips.
  • To make lemon cake, omit the chocolate chips and add the zest of 2 lemons when beating the butter.
  • To make orange cake, omit the chocolate chips and add the zest of 1 large orange when beating the butter.

Whipped Cream Filling

Makes enough to fill and top 1 three-layer cake

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Using a whisk or an electric mixer with the whip attachment, beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla to medium peaks (when you lift the beater, it should look like a Dairy Queen soft-serve curl). Be careful not to overwhip or it will become grainy and, eventually, turn to butter.

If you use powdered sugar in place of granulated, the whipped cream will be a bit sturdier, but either way, you should wait to make the whipped cream and assemble the cake until just before serving.

Want to make more naked cakes? Check out our Strawberry Double Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake recipe, our Angel Food Layer Cake recipe, our Strawberry Shortcake Layer Cake recipe, and our Easy Berry Butter Cake recipe too.

If you’re a beginning baker, be sure to see these resources to help you get a leg up:

Don't Want to Do the Work?

9 Festive Birthday Cakes You Can Order Online

Photos and animated GIF by Chris Rochelle; styling by Kim Laidlaw

Kim Laidlaw is a cookbook editor and the author of Home Baked Comfort, Baby & Toddler On the Go (an IACP Cookbook Awards finalist), and Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day. She teaches baking and pastry classes at the San Francisco Cooking School, and is a recipe developer and former professional baker who has been in the kitchen covered in flour since she was big enough to stir the biscuit dough.
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