By: Brady Evans
My birthday came and went in early March without much fanfare. Part of the problem might have been that I have a student who has been consistently wishing me “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” daily since August. It was hard to believe when the day had come that it was truly my birthday after all those wonderful salutations all year long.
Another problem, I guess, is that as you get older, birthdays matter less. Unless you are my mom (who blogs at leemalerich.wordpress.com if you want to check her out!), apparently, and then you throw yourself a wonderful party. That’s where this cake came into play – not on my birthday but on her birthday, which is two weeks after mine.
Maybe I went all out on the cakes (yes, there were two; I’ll share the other later) because I had truly not gone all out on my birthday. Or maybe it was because the skies had opened up and it had been raining for two days. What’s better than baking up a storm during an actual storm?
I must confess that I chose this cake because the interior is deep dark chocolate and while my mom and I both prefer vanilla, our husbands do not. Also, I was in the mood to challenge myself by making homemade salted caramel.
The cake was described by the party guests as “shove your face into and eat away” delicious. Ina Garten makes a mean chocolate cake and the salted caramel frosting truly was the perfect contrast. The compliments I received for the baking of this cake at the party were embarrassingly plentiful, so use that as an indication of how quickly you should make this cake! Below are the recipes for the cake, the salted caramel and the salted caramel frosting.
Chocolate Cake (adapted from Ina Garten)
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted 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
- 1.5 cups whole buttermilk, shaken, 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 like to use the wrapper from my sticks of butter).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy (approximately 5 minutes).
- Reduce the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time and incorporate fully.
- Add the vanilla and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and coffee.
- In a third 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.
- Finish by folding the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.
- Divide the batter between two 8″ round cake pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Salted Caramel (from Kimberly Taylor Images)
- 1 cup granulated 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 kosher salt
- 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.
- Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
- After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
- Do not stir from this point on, but instead swirl the liquid around the pan so that the caramel doesn’t burn.
- Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even light amber color (it will darken upon standing) then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds. This step will take about 5 minutes.
- Carefully, pour the heavy cream into the mixture. The mixture will bubble up, so watch out.
- Stir the mixture, again being careful. Add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.
- Measure 1 cup into a glass 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.
Salted Caramel Frosting (from Kimberly Taylor Images)
- 2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter at room temperature
- 8 ounces of cream cheese
- 3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 1 cup salted caramel (recipe above)
- Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
- Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar into the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat to combine.
- Add 1 cup of the salted caramel and beat to combine.
- Add additional powdered sugar until the frosting is the sweetness and consistency you desire.