Saturday, February 25, 2017

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

I love making and decorating cakes. I rarely have the free time and the occasion to do so, but I have recently had some time off and also a plan to go to a party. And what's a party without cake? I decided to try out a completely new recipe and after making this cake (and enjoying it), I think that I just might make it again. I made a chocolate cake, and then added a salted caramel mousse for filling, and then iced the whole thing with a whipped chocolate buttercream. Chocolate cakes can often be too rich or heavy, overpoweringly sweet with chocolate, which is why I decided to opt for the whipped buttercream, for a lighter taste, and a salted caramel mousse, offering another flavor, besides chocolate, while balancing out the sweetness with the salt. And honestly, I think that I made a pretty good call on it. The basic chocolate cake is transformed into a delicious mixture of flavors. Plus, the salted caramel filling makes the cake look gorgeous on the inside, with the chocolate cake layers and the filling alternating between lighter and darker colors. 



For this cake, since I wanted to customize it to be exactly what I wanted, instead of using just one recipe, I scoured the web for separate recipes and then combined them all into one to create this salted caramel chocolate cake recipe. The cake recipe is from food.com, the salted caramel filling recipe is from Leite's Culinaria, and the whipped chocolate buttercream is from Chef in Training. I modified the recipes a bit, for example, the serving size of the filling, in order to fit it to the portion of the cake and also to fit it to what I wanted for the cake. All of these recipes are fantastic, but I thought that the whipped chocolate buttercream really took the cake (pun intended) and it was a fantastic buttercream, not too sweet and had a great consistency.




Ingredients


For the cake:

Devil's food cake cake mix
4 oz box of instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
4 eggs

For the salted caramel filling:

1 1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup of light brown sugar
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
4 tbs water
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

For the whipped chocolate buttercream:

1 cup butter, softened
4 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar
4 tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbs heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt


Procedure


For the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to the given temperature based on the boxed cake mix. Mine was 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Grease 2 cake pans
3. Add all the ingredients: the cake mix: pudding mix, sour cream, water, vegetable oil, and eggs, into a bowl.
4. Using a stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer with a wire whip attachment, blend on low speed for about a minute.
5. Stop and scrape down the edges of the bowl.
6. On medium speed, mix for about 2-3 more minutes.
7. Pour batter into pans and spread out smoothly.
8. Bake for 27-32 minutes, mine took about 27 minutes, since I used 9-inch pans.
9. Allow cakes to cool for about 15-20 minutes
10. Run a knife around the cakes and remove them from the pans by flipping them upside down over a plate. 
11. Cut off the domed parts of the cakes, so that the cakes have flat tops.
12. Cut each cake in half, making 2 layers per pan, 4 layers total.

For the salted caramel filling:

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring 2/3 cup of heavy cream to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized saucepan over high heat, heat up the granulated sugar, brown sugar, water, honey, and vanilla extract, without stirring, until it comes to a boil. Brush the pan with a damp pastry brush to prevent the caramel from solidifying. Cook the mixture, without stirring, for about 5-6 minutes, or until it becomes an amber-color. Monitor the caramel closely to prevent it from burning.
3. Reduce the heat on the caramel to medium-heat. Slowly and carefully add the hot heavy cream to the caramel, stirring it with a heat resistant spoon. Continue to stir until there are no more lumps.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter, stirring until it's completely melted into the caramel mixture.
5. Allow the caramel to cool until it reaches room temperature.
6. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer with a wire whip attachment, whip the remaining 2/3 cup of heavy cream until it gets soft peaks. This should take about 7-10 minutes, it's quite lengthy, but you can continue mixing until it becomes like the consistency of cool whip.
8. Add the caramel to the whipped cream and continue using the mixer to whip up the filling.
9. Once the filling is done, add it onto the cake in-between the cake layers.

For the whipped chocolate buttercream:

1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients: the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cream or milk, and salt, with an electric mixer or stand mixer with a wire whip attachment. Beat for roughly 5-7 minutes or until it becomes light and fluffy.
2. Feel free to add more powdered sugar or more cream/milk, depending on the thickness that you desire of your buttercream. Add more powdered sugar for a thicker buttercream and add more cream/milk for a thinner buttercream.
3. You may also add more cocoa powder, if you favor a richer and more bitter chocolate taste.
4. Frost the entire cake with the whipped chocolate buttercream.

You can decorate this cake in whatever way you would like, I used an assortment of berries, royal icing roses and violets, and sprinkling of cocoa powder. I used this picture as my decorating inspiration, but I ended up modifying it by replacing the edible flowers in the picture with flowers that I made using royal icing. Decorating a cake is all about creativity, so if you plan to make this cake, you can opt for something else that you like the look of (and is set to your skill level), such as chocolate shavings, fondant (although I'm not a fan of the taste, it can make some amazing decorations), decorating the sides with buttercream, adding some texture to your cake, etc.

If you make this cake, I would love if you shared it with me! Send me a picture on social media, preferably Twitter or Instagram and let me know how the recipe worked for you!

Happy baking!

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