Sea Salt Caramel Cake

Sea Salt Caramel Cake

I can’t believe I am just now blogging about this cake. Not my most lovely attempt at a cake but keep in mind I was likely sleep deprived and completely distracted as it was coming to life. Gavin was a little over a year at this point and we were still iffy on sleep and definitely iffy on sanity as all new parents are. He NEVER slept and seemed to catch every germ that daycare would throw at him.  In an attempt to find some “ME” time, I agreed to bring a dessert to our family Christmas day lunch. Christmas with my family is always very sentimental to me. I love the tradition that comes to life year after year and love the significance of that very special day. Because of that I had to find the perfect recipe, the perfect ingredients, and the perfect entry back into the world of baking. As you can see from the photo below, apparently we had waffles that morning and I was wearing a beautiful miss match outfit accompanied by some less than perfect hair. Not to mention my child felt the need for some mom time in the middle of it all. Standard.

WARNING: this cake is WORK

What you need & how it comes to life:

Chocolate Cake

  • 3/4 cup  sweet ground chocolate & cocoa powder (Ghirardelli)
  • 1 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened – I generally use the off brand and don’t notice a difference
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Ghirardelli Powder

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Butter three 8″ round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and butter the parchment. **I generally trace one of the pans and cut out a stencil of parchment paper to use for the other two. Lightly dust each pan with flour tapping the sides and rotating the pan until it is lightly coated. For easy clean up, I do this step over the trash can as it can get a little messy sometimes.

In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa, hot water and sour cream. Mix well and set aside to cool.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat the butter and shortening about five minutes on medium speed until they are combined and ribbon-like.

Add the sugars and beat another five minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Finally, add the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds.

Next add the flour mixture alternating with the cocoa mixture starting and ending with the flour mixture.

Chocolate Cake Batter

Divide the batter between the three cake pans and smooth the tops. **I use my pampered chef spatula for smoothing. Nothing else seems to do the trick like that thing does.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean.

Place the three pans on a wire rack and cool for about 20 minutes. **I usually use a cutting board on top to flip the cakes and then flip them back over on the racks to cool completely. Remove the parchment paper.

Sea Salt Caramel Layer

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

In a small sauce pan combine the heavy whipping cream and the sea salt. Very slowly bring to a simmer until the salt is dissolved then remove from the heat.

In a medium sauce pan combine the water, sugar and corn syrup. Stir together carefully making sure not to splash up the sides of your pan. Cook over high heat until your candy thermometer reads 350F or until the mixture is a dark amber color. On my stove this took about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool 1 minute.

Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let the caramel come to room temperature then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Caramel Ganache Frosting:

  • 1 pound dark chocolate chopped (at least 60-70% cacao) – again, I used Ghirardelli squares
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 2 cup unsalted butter cut into 1/2″ pieces

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.

Ghirardelli Chocolate

In a small sauce pan slowly bring the cream to a simmer. Keep an eye on it so it does not burn.

Meanwhile,  in a medium saucepan combine the water, sugar and corn syrup. Once again, stir to combine carefully making sure not to splash any up the sides. Cook over high heat until your candy thermometer reads 350F. It should take about 8-10 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and let it cool one minute.

Add the cream to the caramel and stir until combined, about two minutes. Pour the caramel over the chopped chocolate. Let the mixture sit for a minute or two then stir the mixture together until the chocolate is fully melted. Let the mixture cool for a while then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with your paddle attachment. Oh how I live my Kitchenaid mixer!

Mix on low speed until the bowl is cool to touch (this could take a while). Once cool, increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter. Once it’s all added beat on high speed until fluffy.

Build your masterpiece (another place your sea salt will come in handy)

Sea Salt

Place one cake layer of the cake on a serving dish. **Make sure you choose wisely because once it is assembled you won’t want to move it. Spread 1/4 cup of the caramel over the first layer of cake. Let it soak in a bit and then spread 3/4 cup of the ganache frosting over the caramel. Sprinkle 1 tsp of your sea salt over the frosting. Repeat using the second cake layer. For the third layer you can do one of two things: ONE – spread with caramel then crumb coat the cake and put the cake in the fridge to cool for 15 minutes. This will firm up your crumb layer of frosting making it easier to have a smooth finish on your finished product. After 15 minutes, remove from the fridge and final coat with the ganache frosting. TWO (my choice) – put a little extra caramel on layer one and two and don’t put any of the caramel layer on the top. Still cover the top and sides with the ganache. Work from the top down.

Layers

raspberrychocolatecake©2013MWB-dashoflovely (11 of 13)

I decorated the base with some milk chocolate chips but you could use anything you want.

I made the cake the day before so I stored it in the refrigerator the night before. If you don’t want to serve it cool just make sure you take it out of the fridge early the next day.

Sea Salt Caramel CakeThe inspiration for this cake came from Miss Lemonie

BBQ Chicken Sliders

Pulled Chicken Sliders

Summer is that time of the year for families to get together,  play poolside, and time to put away your soup recipes.

I don’t know about you all but it seems like our friends and family use any excuse to get together during the summer months. We also start using those two lovely words POT LUCK. When it is your turn to host, I found a recipe that will feed the masses and pretty much takes the hassle away from you enjoying the fun along with your guests. One small note before you go out and buy your ingredients. The prep for this meal MUST be done 24 hours ahead of time. 

What you need: 

Brine: 

  • 1  1/2 qt. water (6 cups of water)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Chicken:

How it comes to life: 

You start with the brine ingredients. In a large bowl, mix the water, brown sugar, salt, liquid smoke, garlic, and dried thyme until the sugar is dissolved. Reserve 1 cup of the brine and place it in the refrigerator.

Place the chicken into a large ziploc bag. Add the remaining brine to coat the chicken. Seal the bag and place it in a bowl in the refrigerator for approximately 24 hours. I took the bag out a few times within the course of the 24 hours and shook it up a bit so that all of the chicken was nicely marinated.

Once the 24 hours has passed take the chicken out of the bag and place it in a crock pot. Discard the remaining brine still left in the ziploc. Add the reserved cup of brine and 1/3 cup liquid smoke. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or until the chicken is tender.

Crock Pot Chicken

Remove the chicken and on a place shred with two forks. Discard the remaining juice from the pot. Return the chicken to the pot and add in the BBQ sauce. Feel free to add more if it is too dry.

BBQ Chicken

Serve on a kaiser bun.

In the magazine it suggests topping the meat with what they call “Freezer Slaw”. I tried it and it was delicious but probably not for everyone. If you want to try the slaw here is the recipe they gave. I made this the night before as well.

Slaw

What you need:

  • 1 head of cabbage shredded OR a bag of shredded cabbage mix
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 medium carrot shredded (if you are not using the mixed cabbage)

How it comes to life:

Place cabbage in a bowl and toss with salt. Let stand for an hour. Drain remaining liquid.

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, vinegar, celery seed, and mustard seed. Bring to a boil dissolving the sugar. Cook 1 minute. Remove from hear and cool.

Add peppers and carrots if necessary. Add dressing and toss. Place in a container with a lid and place in the refrigerator.

Adapted from Taste of Home magazine – April 2013 issue

Spicy Mint Beef

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (6 of 6)

I branched out a bit on this meal. The thought of cooking beef that isn’t ground is a little intimidating. I tend to overcook my meat because I don’t like anything that is even close to rare. I know some of you are rolling your eyes at that statement but meat really can be delicious and well done.

This recipe has a lot of ingredients I love (like fresh mint) but also a lot of things I have never heard of let alone cooked with. The flavor in this beef is so unique and fresh. The mint really cools the dish and makes it the perfect combination for your taste buds.  I was honestly impressed with how it turned out and will move this to the front of the recipe box.

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (4 of 6)

What you need: 

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 serrano chili (the original recipe called for more but this was plenty for my family)
  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (I could not find this at the store so I made my own – in a sauce pan simmer for approximately 15 minutes 1 star anise, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/8 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium black soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste
  • 1  1/2 cups fresh basil
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • White rice

How it comes to life: 

On a cutting board slice the flank steak into thin slices. Make them as thin as you can for ease of cooking.

In a large skillet or WOK, heat the vegetable oil and add the garlic and chilies until the garlic is golden brown. Add the steak and cook, stirring frequently, approximately 4 minutes. Add in the shallots and bell pepper and cook another minute. Add the fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of the sweet soy sauce mixture, black soy sauce, and chili paste. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is cooked all the way through.

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (1 of 6)

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (2 of 6)

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (3 of 6)

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil and mint until they wilt.

Serve over white or brown rice. You can either use minute rice or use a rice cooker before you start the beef.

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (5 of 6)

Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine (May 2013 issue)

%d bloggers like this: