Buttercream frosting is the go-to choice for decorating cakes, but if you don't like thick frosting on your cakes, you might try using caramel sauce as a sweet topping that doesn't overwhelm the cake. Look for caramel sauce along with the ice cream toppings in your grocery store or make your own, using a combination of granulated sugar, corn syrup, butter, water and cream. In addition to leavened cakes made with flour, caramel sauce can also be used to decorate cheesecake. You can use caramel alone or as a decorative supplement on top of frosting.
Drizzle the caramel sauce over the cake in swirls or a zigzag pattern. You can drizzle the caramel sauce from a spoon, but for more even drizzles, add the sauce to a squeeze bottle. The sauce can be drizzled over a whole cake, or on individual slices where you can continue the drizzle pattern over the slice and onto the plate.
Draw concentric circles of caramel on top of the cake with a squeeze bottle, starting at the center and working your way to the edge of the cake. Drag a toothpick through the caramel from the center to the edge to make a spider-web pattern. This looks best on round cakes. The cake should be frosted before applying the caramel sauce so you have something through which to drag the toothpick. Try a chocolate frosting that both pairs well with the caramel flavor and offers stark contrast in color.
Pour the caramel sauce over the center of the cake, allowing it to spread to the edges and drip down the sides in a haphazard, but decorative, way. Cheesecakes usually have a slight well in the center because the edges are raised slightly, so you can fill the well with the caramel sauce without it pouring over the edges.
The caramel sauce doesn't need to be applied to plain cake. You can easily pair the caramel with frosting, such as the chocolate frosting on a spider-web pattern described above, or your choice of nuts. For example, you can make a turtle cheesecake by drizzling chocolate sauce and caramel sauce over the cheesecake and topping with pecans.