Monday, January 6, 2014

Chocolate caramel cake with sea salt

This was a special cake for a special day.  Darling Husband just celebrated his birthday.   Our birthdays are both close to the mad rush of the holidays, so it sometimes seems that they get lost in the shuffle.  Best way to deal with that? Make a chocolate cake for two!
Simply Desserts is a bakery in Seattle that I think serves some of the best cake in town.  We had the red velvet for my birthday and Darling Husband loves their chocolate caramel cake.  When I saw a recipe for a chocolate caramel cake in Bon Appetit a few months ago I marked it right away.  This would be the cake I would lovingly bake for him!  Best Wife Ever!  
The cake was good.  Okay, probably better than good.  This was the first cake I ever made with mayo.  I know people get weirded out by that, but mayo is just eggs and oil, essentials in a cake.  The combination of chocolate with sea salt is so delicious.  Darling Husband loved that the frosting wasn't too sweet (this guy!), so that might be a selling point for a lot of people.  For me, I love that rush of sugar in a classic buttercream.  I think this cake deserves that buttercream.  It's the right thing to do.  
The bakery version of this cake has a really nice caramel filling. This recipe only has caramel in the frosting, and it's combined with chocolate.  I sort of missed that extra boost of caramel, but that might be a good addition to the buttercream frosting I mentioned.
Chocolate Caramel cake with Sea Salt
2 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 and 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 and 1/4 cup mayonnaise (not low-fat)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 and 1/3 cups lukewarm water
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1 and 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
sea salt
Cake instructions:
Preheat oven to 325.  Coat cake pans with cooking spray, line bottoms with parchment paper, and then spray again. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
With your mixer on high speed, beat together eggs and sugar until pale and doubled in volume, about 4 minutes.  Add mayo and vanilla and beat until just combined. With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with water in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Divide evenly among two 9 inch cake pans. (Original recipe called for three 8 inch pans, of which I only have one)
Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes in pan before turning out onto a wire rack.
Frosting instructions:
Put chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.  Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally, brush down sides with a wet pastry brush as needed, 10-12 minutes.  Remove from heat and slowly whisk in cream, mixture will bubble. (my caramel started to harden at this point, once returned to heat, it smoothed out)  Return to medium heat and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Pour caramel over chocolate and stir until mixture is smooth; stir occasionally, allowing to cool.
Once cool, using an electric mixer, on medium-high heat, beat chocolate mixture, gradually adding butter, until frosting is smooth and thickened.  Chill until stiff enough to spread, about 30 minutes. 
Place one cake layer on plate, spread with about 1 cup frosting and sprinkle with sea salt, about 1/4 teaspoon.  Place second layer on top and frost, covering top completely and down the sides.  Just before serving, sprinkle top layer with more sea salt.
This is definitely a cake you make for a special occasion.  It's really not complicated, but it yields impressive results.  I would recommend this cake to anyone looking for a solid chocolate cake recipe.  Try the frosting as is and see what you think. Oh yeah, if you've made resolutions to eat healthy, bookmark for later.
legs in photo are true-to-life.