It might be too late to bake this cake as an elegant Thanksgiving dessert but it is definitely not too late to add it to your "to-do" list for the upcoming holiday season. This cake tastes to great, that the time it takes to prepare it will be rewarded with a dessert full of deep, dark, chocolate flavor, oozing salted caramel and chocolate ganache. It is a rich cake, but that's what makes it so incredibly good!
Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cake
adapted from danatreat.com and
Baked, New Frontiers in Baking
Note from Dana:
Now that I have made this cake twice, I have a few pointers. The cakes themselves can be made up to a week in advance, wrapped well in plastic and then foil, and frozen. Let them thaw overnight at room temperature. The caramel sauce can be made a few days in advance, bring it to room temperature before using, otherwise it will be too hard to spread. When making the caramel, be sure to use a medium size saucepan for the water and sugar mixture. You may be tempted to use something small because the volume isn’t that large initially. Once you add the cream, it will bubble vigorously and you need the extra space. On that same note, be very careful when you add the cream – the steam is a big burn hazard. Lastly, the caramel goes from just perfect to burned in about one second, so take it off the heat just before you think it is ready. The residual heat will continue to cook it.
For the Classic Chocolate Layers
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ cups hot water
⅔ cup sour cream
2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Salted Caramel
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup sour cream
For the Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting
1 lb. dark chocolate (60 to 70% cacao), chopped
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
To Assemble the Cake
2 teaspoons fleur de sel, plus more for garnish
Make the Classic Chocolate Cake Layers
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.
In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream and set aside to cool.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until ribbonlike, about 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.
Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes on the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely.
Make the Salted Caramel
In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved.
Meanwhile, keeping a close on the cream mixture so it doesn’t burn, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until and instant-read thermometer read 350°F, 6 to 8 minutes.(I took my from the heat at 300 F) Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.
Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.
Make the Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting
Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat.
Meanwhile, keeping a close on the cream mixture so it doesn’t burn, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until and instant-read thermometer read 350°F, 6 to 8 minutes(I took my from the heat at 300 F) . Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.
Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes, then pour the caramel over the chocolate. Let the caramel and chocolate sit for 1 minutes, then, starting in the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate and caramel mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted. Let the mixture cool, then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy.
Assemble the Cake
Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup of the caramel over the top. Let the caramel soak into the cake, then spread 3/4 cup of the ganache frosting over the caramel. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel over the frosting, then top with the second cake layer.
Spread with caramel, then the caramel frosting and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel. Then top with the third layer. Spread with caramel. Crumb coat the cake and put the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.
The cake will keep in a cake saver at room temperature (cool and humidity free) for up to 3 days. If your room is not cool, place the cake in a cake saver and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.