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:
- 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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
The inspiration for this cake came from Miss Lemonie