Chocolate Caramel Cake

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Black and White Dessert Party

Amongst my friends, this cake is an absolute favorite. My husband and my friend Maria are the biggest fans, and request it for their Birthdays every year. It is a really rich dessert, with a moist dark chocolate cake, buttery vanilla caramel, chocolate butter cream frosting and dark chocolate ganache. An amazing cake for a special occasion, or an indulgent dessert after a family dinner.

2 cups boiling water
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup soft unsalted butter
2-1/4 cup white sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla
2-3/4 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare three 8″ rounds with non-stick baking spray.

Put the coco powder in a small bowl, and pour the boiling water on top of it. Whisk the water and coco together until smooth, and then set aside until cooled.

In a mixing bowl or standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time until they completely combined.

Sift all of the dry ingredients together, and then gently add half of the dry ingredients to the batter. Add the cooled chocolate, and then follow with the rest of the dry ingredients. When the batter is completely combined, divide it evenly between the three cake pans. Bang the pans on the counter top a few times to get the batter even and to release air bubbles that may be trapped. Bake the cake layers about 25 minutes, but keep a close eye on them because every cake is different. Let the cake layers cool before you turn them out of the pans.

Vanilla Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup water
2 cups white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tb sour cream

In a large saucepan or deep medium pot add the water, then the sugar, vanilla and the corn syrup. Cook the mixture over medium heat with out stirring. Meanwhile I put the butter, cream and sour cream in a bowl together.

When the sugar starts to turn an amber “caramel” color, gently add the additional ingredients, whisking them in with a metal whisk. Be careful! The caramel will steam and bubble and you don’t want to burn yourself. Immediately remove the caramel from the heat and continue to whisk until the caramel is very smooth and uniform in color and texture.

Chocolate Butter Cream

1 cup soft butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbs strong coffee or espresso, cooled
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbs unsweetened coco powder
*(My favorite brand is Valhrona 100% Cacao- it is the most beautiful dark red color,
I also use a few spoonfuls of the chocolate ganache)

Mix all of this in a bowl with an electric hand mixer, or in the bowl of an upright mixer. You may need to add a little more milk, or a little more powdered sugar to reach the desired consistency.

Chocolate Ganache

2 cups of chopped bittersweet chocolate
*(I love a dark chocolate with between 60-70% cocoa)
2 cups heavy cream

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized bowl.

Gently heat the cream in a small saucepan until it starts to boil up. Remove the cream from the heat, and pour it over the chocolate. Leave the ganache alone for about 5 minutes, and just let the cream melt the chocolate. After you have let the cream melt the chocolate naturally, then take a fork, and stir the ganache until smooth.

This can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Putting it all together

Place one of the cool cake layers on a cake plate. Pour some of the warm caramel onto the cake, trying to keep it on the cake (not pouring over the sides). You may have to do this by slowly adding the caramel a little at a time, waiting for it to cool and stay put in between adding more.

Place the second layer on top, and repeat the process, topping the second caramel layer with the final cake layer.
Frost the entire cake with a thick layer of the chocolate butter cream, trying to keep it smooth.

With the chocolate ganache, you have two options. The first is to have the cake have a really smooth shiny finish to it. The second option is a little more rustic, with a more matte finish, (like in the photograph).

If you want the really shiny finish, I recommend starting by tucking strips of wax or parchment paper under the corners of the cake. (The idea is to protect the cake plate from the ganache when you pour it over the cake). Then you need to have the ganache slightly warm, (not hot or very warm!!! It will melt the butter cream) and with a good, runny consistency. I pout it in the center of the top of the cake, and if it doesn’t evenly run down each side, (which it never does), then I just sort of pour it in concentric circles until the top and all of the sides of the cake are covered. After the ganache has set up, then you gently pull the strips of paper away, and the cake plate should be clean.

The second way to finish the cake with the ganache is to apply it to the cake with an off set spatula or butter knife. Just using the spatula will interrupt the glossiness of the chocolate.