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Monday, October 29, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

My oldest daughter turned 5 today.  Sigh.  They grow so fast!  It seems like yesterday that I took her home from the hospital.  Yesterday I asked her what she would like to have for her birthday dinner.  This included the main dish, a drink and a dessert.  She requested Chicken Soup with Rice (more on that later), Lemonade and Chocolate Cake.  Being the great Pinterest loving mommy that I am after I put the baby to bed last night I hopped online to look for a chocolate cake recipe.  I figured I'd whip something up from scratch rather than using a box.  I saw this recipe and got started.  Little did I know that I would be spending the ENTIRE evening on this 3 part recipe.  Yes that's right, I made a gourmet cake for my 5 year old that took me 3 hours to complete.  Sigh.  By the time I realized I was in over-my-head I was invested.

Now this cake isn't actually difficult to make, just a bit time consuming.  I had never made caramel before, so I didn't realize that it needs to slowly cook to be just right.  Fortunately for me everything turned out great (I had an idea after licking all the bowls last night) and the cake was a huge hit at her celebration tonight.

She is worth it.  Hey, it wasn't as long as her labor so it wasn't that bad.  Ha!

Chocolate Cake
adapted from Ina Garten

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease your cake pans (I used coconut oil). In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes.  Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended. Divide your batter between your cake pans.  I had just enough to fill my two 8 & 1 1/2 inch pans 2/3 full.  The directions say to bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  My pans took 35 minutes to bake completely.  Let cool for 10-15 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Salted Caramel 
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, kosher or sea

1. Combine the sugar, water, and the corn syrup in a large saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
2. Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
3. After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
4. Do not stir from this point on, but instead swirl the liquid around the pan so that the caramel doesn’t burn.
5. Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color (took me about 10-15 min) then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
6. Very carefully pour the heavy cream into the mixture. The mixture will bubble up significantly and is very hot.
7. Stir the mixture, again being careful. Add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.
8. Measure 1 cup into a Pyrex measuring cup. Stirring occasionally, allow to cool until thick like molasses and warm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Save any extra in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It is delicious on ice cream.

Salted Caramel Frosting 
2 sticks butter at room temperature
8 ounces of cream cheese
3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 cup salted caramel (recipe above)

1. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar into the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat to combine.
3. Add 1 cup of the salted caramel and beat to combine.
4. Add additional powdered sugar until the frosting is the sweetness and consistency you desire.

You will be able to frost your cake right away because by the time you've made the caramel and the frosting it should be cool to the touch.

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