Sunday, May 27, 2018

Salted caramel chocolate cake

This show-stopping salted caramel chocolate cake will knock your socks off! Each layer contains a luscious chocolate sour cream cake, topped with an amazing homemade caramel sauce and sprinkling of flaky sea salt. Then the cake is covered with a rich and creamy chocolate buttercream frosting. This will be your favorite dessert of the year!

Do you guys ever dream about dessert? Or at least daydream about dessert? If so, what is it? Ice cream? Macarons? Brownies or cookies? Me? I'm always daydreaming about dessert, which is probably why I write a dessert blog.

One dessert that I can't seem to get out of my mind is the salted caramel chocolate cake from a dessert restaurant we visited about a year ago. Their 5-layer (!!!) monstrosity was out of this world. Each layer was bursting with a decadent salted caramel sauce and topped with the richest chocolate buttercream I had ever tasted.

Oh yes, it was that good.

I hadn't found a good reason to recreate this cake until now. As you all know, I like to bake myself something for my birthday and for Mother's Day. This year was no different. I wanted to make the salted caramel chocolate cake for myself. Believe me, I was tempted not to share this with anybody but like a good mother and wife, I allowed my husband and daughter to try some (ha!).

Don't let the multiple ingredients and steps intimidate you. You can absolutely do this over a few days. Make the caramel sauce ahead of time and let it hang out on the counter. The frosting can be made a few days in advance (store it in the refrigerator and allow it to thaw to room temperature; you may need to re-whip it). Or you can even make the cake earlier and keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to assemble. Each element doesn't take that much time and the assembly isn't hard either.

If you're in hunt for a show stopping cake, this is it.

Salted caramel chocolate cake
Cake
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
Caramel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Flaky sea salt, used for layering the cake
Chocolate buttercream frosting
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional
Directions
Make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line three 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.

Dissolve the cocoa powder in the boiling water and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Add in the vanilla. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Alternately add these dry ingredients with the sour cream and mix well, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Add in the cocoa mixture and mix well.

Evenly distribute the batter into your three baking pans. Bake in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. If the cakes have a dome on top, shave it off with a serrated knife.

Make the caramel: In a medium sized saucepan set over medium heat, mix together the sugar and water. Let the sugar mixture sit and heat up (do not stir) until it reaches a deep amber color, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat up the cream (do not allow it to boil). Once the sugar turns amber, slowly drizzle in the warm cream. Stir vigorously, as it will bubble up. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter and mix well. Set aside.

Make the buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and cocoa powder on medium speed until it is free of lumps. Alternately add the powdered sugar and mix, beginning and ending with the powdered sugar. Mix until well blended. Add in the vanilla and instant espresso powder. If the frosting appears too liquidy, add more powdered sugar. If it appears too dry, add more milk. Once the frosting is ready, set aside.

Assemble the cake: On a cake stand or on a plate, place one of the cake pieces flat side down ("flat side" refers to the side that was on the bottom of the round baking pan). Top with a generous layer of buttercream, leaving about 1/4" - 1/2" unfrosted along the circumference. Drizzle on some of the caramel and sprinkle on some flaky sea salt.

Top with another cake layer, again, with the flat side down. Repeat with layering with the buttercream, caramel, and salt. Top with the final layer, this time flat side UP.

Apply a thin layer of frosting on top and all around the cake. A bench scraper or offset spatula will be helpful here. Put in the refrigerator to allow the frosting to set (about 30 minutes). Then add a generous layer of frosting on top and all around the cake again. Decorate the tops and sides with whatever you like, but I find that leaving it plain and simple is also very effective.

Store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature again before serving.

Yield: One 3-layer, 8" cake; about 8-10 servings

Source: Inspired by Shyndigz; cake from Taste of Home; caramel from Bobby Flay via the New York Times; frosting from Add a Pinch

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