Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

I made this cake forever ago and I just haven’t gotten around to posting it. Yes, the write up is a little on the long side, but it’s a fantastic complex cake! For some reason, none of the pictures I took of the cake turned out very well. So if you want to see how fantastic this cake can look, check out the original recipe on  Annie's Eats. Her food always looks perfect.

I made this for a very good friend at work on her birthday. I really enjoy picking cakes and hoping I choose something that the birthday person will like. I knew that she liked caramel, and you can never go wrong with chocolate cake. This had a few extra steps, and required me to make real buttercream, but it was worth it. The caramel and the chocolate and the frosting just can’t be beat.

I usually make “cheater” American buttercream, which is just powdered sugar and butter. I like it, but it lacks a certain refinement. This buttercream is whipped egg whites, sugar and butter. It takes longer and you really think that you’ve ruined it when you make it, but it does eventually come together when you beat it enough. This buttercream is so good and elegant, and the caramel makes it even better. This cake is something special, so make it for someone who deserves it!

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

2¼ cups flour
2¼ cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
2¼ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup sugar, divided
¼ cup water
¼ cup heavy cream
Generous pinch of sea salt
4 egg whites
1½ cups butter, at room temperature

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup very hot water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Pinch of salt

Make the cake: preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour three 8-inch baking pans, and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. 

In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Mix on low speed to blend.  Add the vegetable oil, buttermilk, coffee, eggs, and vanilla to the bowl and mix on low speed until well blended and completely incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the pans about 15 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the filling: place ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a saucepan.  Mix in the water.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  Stop stirring and let the caramel cook, gently swirling from time to time, until it is a deep amber color, watching it carefully to avoid burning.  Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream and then the salt.  Set aside and let cool.

Combine the egg whites and the remaining ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in the top of a double boiler.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees and the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. The buttercream may look terrible and like you made an error, but just keep beating and it will be ok. Blend in the cooled caramel until smooth.

Make the frosting: melt the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or in the microwave).  Set aside and let cool to room temperature.  In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and water and stir until smooth.  In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter, powdered sugar and salt.  Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend in the melted chocolate. Blend in the cocoa powder-water mixture until smooth.

Assemble the cake:  place one of the cake layers on a serving plate.  Top with half of the caramel buttercream. Place a second cake layer on top and smooth the remaining caramel buttercream over that.  Place the final cake layer on top.  Frost the top and sides of the cake with the chocolate frosting.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Before serving, sprinkle with additional salt.

Recipe from Annie’s Eats

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