Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Ganache

10 Feb

chocolate cake with salted caramel ganache

This is a cake so amazing, so delicious, so decadent that I made it for my birthday two years in a row. I wanted to make a different cake this year, I really did; I love cooking things that are exciting and new, and I don’t have nearly enough excuses to bake cakes. But as the day neared, I found my mind constantly wandering back to this rich, dense chocolate cake, layered with salted caramel ganache, just the right balance of salty and sweet. And I finally admitted that I’d already found my birthday perfection; it’s my day after all, dammit, and I was going to have this cake.

(Yes, it was recently my birthday, and yes, I am now a year older, and no, I’m not worried about getting older, just excited because I think this upcoming year will be even better than the last.)

chocolate cake with salted caramel ganache

Chocolate Cake (adapted from Epicurious)
Yield: 1 2-layer 10″ cake OR 1 2-layer 8″ or 9″ cake + 1 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate*
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour**
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • salted caramel ganache (see below)
  • fleur de sel***

*Chopped or in chips/chunks, please.
**Or substitute 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
***Or substitute sea salt or kosher salt.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Butter 2 10″ round cake pans (or 2 8″ or 9″ pans and a cupcake pan). Line the bottoms of the cake pans with a round of parchment paper, then butter the paper.
  3. Combine 3 ounces semisweet chocolate and 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee in a small bowl, and let sit, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups sugar, 3 cups cake flour, 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp baking powder, and 1 1/4 tsp salt.
  5. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat 3 large eggs on high speed until thickened and lighter in color, about 3 – 5 minutes.
  6. Lower speed to medium, and slowly add 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and the melted chocolate mixture, beating until well combined.
  7. Add the sugar mixture, and beat until just combined (you don’t want any visible flour, but be careful not to overmix).
  8. Fill cake pans 2/3rd full with batter, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours (cupcakes will only need about 30 minutes).
  9. Remove from oven, and let cool completely in pans on cooling racks.
  10. Carefully invert the layers onto a plate, and remove the parchment paper. Cake layers can be made a day ahead and kept, wrapped in plastic wrap (I leave the parchment paper on), in the refrigerator or at room temperature. If you want to make a 4-layer cake, carefully slice each layer in two using a serrated knife (refrigerating the cake overnight makes this much easier, and I use toothpicks to guide the knife).
  11. When ready to assemble, frost with salted caramel ganache, and top with a sprinkle of fleur de sel, if desired.

Salted Caramel Ganache (adapted from Technicolor Kitchen)
Yield: approximately 4 cups ganache

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup
  • water
  • 1 1/2 cups cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel**

*Chopped or in chips/chunks, please.
**Or substitute sea salt or kosher salt. Adjust the amount to your liking.

Method:

  1. Place 16 ounces semisweet chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl (glass is best) and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan with high sides, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp corn syrup, and enough water to give the mixture the consistency of wet sand.
  3. Turn the heat on high, and let come to a boil. Do not stir, but (before boiling starts) brush the sides of the pot with water (this gets any sugar that has splashed up on the sides).
  4. Let the sugar bubble, swirling the pan occasionally, until it darkens to an amber color (about 4 – 5 minutes). Remove from heat immediately, and carefully (much bubbling will occur) pour in 1 1/2 cups cream, at room temperature and 1/2 tsp fleur de sel, and stir together for 1 minute.
  5. Pour the hot caramel over the chocolate, and let sit for two minutes. Stir together until smooth (you may have a couple hard pieces of caramel; just take those out and eat them, and no one will be the wiser), then taste (make sure it’s cool enough!) and add more fleur de sel if needed.
  6. Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes before using to frost cake.

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