The Antidote: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

(no caption needed, is there?)
(no caption needed, is there?)

You deserve to treat yourself to something sweet.

#TreatYoSelf

Maybe it’s a Wednesday and things are a little crappy. Like maybe your teenager is having a meltdown and so are you because she is leaving for France for a year and hormones.

Or maybe it’s about to be 114 degrees and this might be the last time the oven gets used for the next week. #GlobalWarmingYall

Or maybe the circus that is the Republican National Convention makes you feel like grabbing a little sugar high. Or Rocky Mountain High because, seriously, #WhatTheFuck?

Whatever your issue. Whatever is happening.

Make THIS.

This surely is not legal in some states. There is a pound of butter in the frosting, and more sugar than you probably have in your kitchen right now in the whole cake. It takes a couple hours to make, what with the three layers (which I had to make in two pans and then one because I only have two pans, but that’s what being flexible is all about) and the filling and crumb coat  (which I will always do from now on) and the cooling and then the final frosting.

In the words of my very lucky neighbor: “This is legit.”

#YoureWelcome

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

Note: Mad love to Baker By Nature from whom this recipe was adapted. I made changes to the flours, the levening agents, and added some coffee, but other than that, it’s genius all on its own. 

Ingredients

Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2  3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1  1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1  1/2 cups full-fat sour cream
1/3 cup whole milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups hot, strong brewed coffee (essential for deep chocolate flavor)

Salted caramel chocolate frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks, 16 ounces), completely soft
4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk, half-n-half, or heavy cream (it seriously does not matter which)
2 tablespoons salted caramel sauce (I bought a jar of Smucker’s salted caramel sauce, but you could DIY)
Assembly:
1 and 1/4 cups salted caramel sauce (please see post for more on this)
Flaky sea salt

Method

Preheat oven to 350°(F).

Grease three 9-inch cakepans (or spray with cooking spray) and line bottom with rounds of parchment paper. Grease the rounds and set pans aside. As noted above, I had to bake two layers then bake the third due to lack of a third cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (I used the whisk attachment), or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, combine both sugars, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt; mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined (or just whisk well to combine, breaking up large clumps).

In a separate bowl combine the eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, milk, oil, and vanilla extract; mix until completely combined.

Pour wet mixture into the dry ingredients and beat on low until just incorporated. Pour in hot coffee and continue mixing until completely combined (about one minute).

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans.

Baking times:

  • 30 minutes for regular oven
  • 25 for convection (I used convection; more even heat for baking)

Test with a wooden toothpick. Insert toothpick into the center of the cake. It should come out clean or with just a few crumbs attached.

Cool cakes for 10 minutes in the pan before removing from pans and transferring to a cooling rack. Cool cakes completely before frosting.

For the chocolate frosting:
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or again using a hand mixer), cream the softened butter until completely smooth.

Turn the mixer off and sift the powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Use a spatula to gently stir in the chocolate/sugar mixture before turning the mixer back on or you will have a fine layer of chocolate/sugar dust coating all of the surfaces of your kitchen. #LearnFromExperience

Turn the mixer on the lowest speed and mix until the chocolate/sugar has been absorbed by the butter.

Increase mixer speed to medium; add in vanilla extract, salt, whatever dairy you are using, and salted caramel. Beat for three minutes. If your frosting appears a little too thin, add a little more confectioners’ sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinner, add more dairy, one tablespoon at a time.

Assembly:
If your cake does not have a lovely flat surface, you can use a serrated knife to trim whatever is sticking up, OR you can make the top the bottom. Place one layer on a large plate or cake stand. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top, then add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of caramel and spread over the layer. Top with another cake layer, and thinly spread it with a layer of frosting, then adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of caramel. Place final cake layer on top.

At this point, if your cake is listing due to the slippery nature of caramel, inserting dowels into the cake can help.

If you are using a crumb coat, do that now.

Chill cake in the ‘fridge for one hour, then remove to finish the frosting. Sprinkle with best-quality sea salt.

Keeps in the ‘fridge for five days. It won’t last that long, but that’s the theory anyway.

 

 

Halloween Treats With A Trick: Caramel Apple Jello Shots

And a little something for the adults.
     I have never used a melon baller in my life.
     Shocking but true.
     So it seems fitting that the first time I do use a melon baller is to make these boozy Halloween treats with a wee trick in the form of butterscotch booze (previously purchased, also for the first time, for my caramel apple martini binge, a trend that continues in my house and will until the apple cider runs out and it gets too cold to think of drinking sweet, cold cocktails).
     This year’s Halloween entry is late, and it sort of typifies the way Halloween has worked this year in general. The Teenager is going to a non-costume Halloween party at a friend’s (which seems really strange to me. No costumes at a party on Halloween? Even costume-optional? But I digress.), which turns out to be fine because she couldn’t get her act together enough to figure out what she wanted to be.
     Usually I am a witch because it just fits, and I happen to own tons of black which means that costume shopping for me entails finding/borrowing a witch’s hat.
     But this year I wasn’t feeling it. And The Teenager wasn’t either, which is sort of sad because I told her this is the last year I was footing the Halloween costume bill. This morning (actual Halloween but actually afternoon because she is a teenager and we did spend several hours playing with the dogs and eating doughnuts in her bed this morning), The Teenager is in the shower, getting herself together for the party tonight, and as I melon-balled my way to these delicious treats with a wee trick I started to get a little nostalgic, as I am prone to do when I cook and listen to Hozier.
     She was a pumpkin for her first year, and a bumblebee after that. Then a fairy. Then a couple years get fuzzy (but included her making a costume as a shadow, which was pretty epic), right up until the string of years when I made her various states of dead as a zombie.
 
My sweet little bee, many years ago. 
 
      As The Teenager got older, I started feeling a little weird about being so gleeful about making her look as undead as possible. She pushed it one more year as a dead bride, the best, most disgusting year of her zombie-ness, until she started to branch off into different costumes.
     This year, she is nothing but herself, heading to a party while I stay home in our new house, doling out literally 20 pounds of candy and non-candy treats for allergic children, wearing my Halloween costume alone on the stoop with the dogs barking like crazy people as little trick-or-treaters flood the neighborhood.
     It’s hard not to tie the passing months to The Teenager’s impending departure. Every year she leaves behind a little more of the child she was and begins to step towards her own life. It is inevitable, joyous, and a little sad.  I am going to need these treats with a wee little trick, and I suspect some of the parental chaperones will, as well.

 

     Happy Halloween!