Monday, May 19, 2014

Salted Caramel Buttercream Chocolate Cake

This cake is astoundingly good. I call it the holy grail of cakes because it is so hard to make a caramel flavored frosting without losing the lightness of the frosting. And a moist, perfect devil's food cake, coupled with homemade caramel . . . well, enough said. Even though this recipe has a bunch of components and some require lots of attention (a lot of constant whisking) it isn't difficult per se and all in all took me under 2 hours (baking time included) on the first attempt.

Devil's Food Cake
- 2 cups flour
- 1.5 tsp baking soda
- .75 tsp baking powder
- .75 tsp salt
- 12 tbsp (1.5 sticks) butter at room temp
- 2 c white sugar
- .75 c cocoa powder (unsweetened)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs (room temp)
- 1.25 c water
- .25 c milk

- Preheat oven to 350, grease two 9-inch pans (use parchment circles on bottoms if possible)
- Combine and whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt
- Beat butter in stand mixer on medium until smooth (3 minutes?), (before each following addition scrape down sides of bowl if necessary) increase speed and slowly add sugar, leave mixer on at least 4 more minutes, then add cocoa and vanilla and beat 2 more minutes. Turn mixer to low, adding eggs one at a time.
- Heat water and milk in pot on stove until almost boiling, remove from heat.
- While that is cooling, add flour/soda/powder/salt mixture slowly to stand mixer mixture, and finally add the milk/water (this can easily splash so try to gently mix with a spatula first)
- Pour evenly into two greased pans, bake on middle rack in oven for about 35 minutes

Caramel Sauce
- 1 c brown sugar
- 4 tbsp butter
- .5c cream (or half-half)
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- pinch salt
- fleur de sel?

Combine all ingredients in pot on stove, cook for about 10 minutes (or less) while whisking constantly. This sauce didn't seem thick enough even at 10 minutes, but it also thickens when it cools so it doesn't have to be perfect. To give it more of a salty caramel flavor, add fancy fleur de sel until desired saltiness.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream . . . the holy grail of frosting
*This is the most complicated part of the cake, but I feel pretty confident that even in my lazy approach to it, it seemed hard to mess up. And this frosting is worth the effort, that I can promise.
- 5 egg whites (do not use store-bought pasteurized whites! - need fresh)
- 1.25c sugar
- 3 sticks (yes, a terrifying 24 tbsp) of butter - let it soften up just a little bit (not quite room temp) outside the fridge. Cut them into small-ish cubes.
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- pinch salt

*to make sure the egg whites whip up, make sure your equipment is clean from any grease/fats - helpful to wipe it down with lemon juice if you're not sure it's totally clean
- Put your stand mixer's bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stovetop. Put in your egg whites and sugar, and whisk them until they've reached a temperature of 160 degrees (you can use a candy thermometer, or just test with your finger to the point that they feel pretty warm/hot). If you're using pasteurized store-bought egg whites, you don't necessarily need to get them to 160 (that's what kills bacteria in fresh egg whites). If you're not worried, you only need to get the egg whites warm enough to dissolve the sugar well.
- Put the bowl back on the stand mixer and use the whisk attachment to whip them for about 10 minutes - at this point you'll be able to tell if all is well because they should whip up beautifully white and glossy.
- Get ready to add your butter - switch out the whisk attachment for the paddle.
- Once the bowl doesn't feel at all warm anymore (should be completely room temp) you can start adding the butter cubes a few at a time, while the paddle whips at low speed. The frosting should get fluffier and look delicious (if it starts to look curdled just keep whipping it for longer, or at worst refrigerate it for a bit and try again.) Increase speed to medium/high.
- Add vanilla and salt, and now you can start slowly mixing in the caramel sauce as well. The beautiful thing about this kind of buttercream is that it should really keep its texture and glossiness with all different kinds of flavor additions - even fruit juices.

I recommend not frosting the sides of the cake - giving it a top and middle layer of thick buttercream is awesome. Drizzle leftover caramel sauce on top if you want to sacrifice some beauty for deliciousness.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Don't know if I have the patience for this, but will try!!