September 02, 2008

And All That Could Have Been, (This Cake Is It)

This cake is worthy of an upcoming birthday celebration but you shouldn’t wait for one to give it a try. It could easily be labeled a show stopper as it’s a beautiful combo of chocolate, salted caramel and more chocolate, coated with roasted almonds. But what’s most important about this cake is that it can back up its good looks with even better taste. There’s no uncertainty here as is often the case with so many other things. You see this cake and you know it’s good. It tells it like it is and sometimes you need cakes, (and people) to do that for you. Otherwise you’re left wondering if things are as they appear to be And All That Could Have Been.

There’s no wondering with a recipe for Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling from Vanilla Bake Shop because although it requires a number of steps to assemble, I assure you that it’s one delicious step after another. I found the caramel filling particularly intriguing as the addition of crème fraîche or sour cream gives it a noticeable tang. And you can’t go wrong with a ganache that requires only cream and chocolate so long as you use your favourite chocolate. The ganache is also easy to spread and roasted almonds help to hide flaws if your icing skills aren’t quite where you’d like them to be. Layer cakes always seem impressive but this one is especially so, could you honestly ask for anything other than a fork?

Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling (From Bon Appetit)

CARAMEL FILLING

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced

1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Large pinch of fine fleur de sel* plus additional for assembly

GANACHE FILLING AND FROSTING

1 1/2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped

3 cups heavy whipping cream

CAKE

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 cup hot water

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee

1 1/4 cups almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped

CARAMEL FILLING

Stir sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in deep medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; cover pan and cook 4 minutes. Uncover; increase heat to high. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, occasionally brushing down pan sides with wet pastry brush, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Whisk in butter, then crème fraîche, lemon juice, and pinch of fleur de sel. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

GANACHE FILLING AND FROSTING

Place chocolate in large bowl. Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate; let soften 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate is smooth. Cool, then cover and chill overnight. DO AHEAD Ganache can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.

CAKE

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each with parchment paper; butter paper and dust pan with flour.

Sift sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Add milk, eggs, and melted butter. Using electric mixer, beat at low speed until blended. Increase speed and beat 2 minutes. Stir 1 cup hot water and espresso powder in small bowl to dissolve. Add to batter; beat until blended (batter will be thin). Divide batter between pans (about 3 cups each).

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 32 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Cut around cakes; turn out onto racks. Peel off parchment and cool completely.

Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 layer on platter; spread with 1/2 cup room-temperature ganache. Spoon 3/4 cup ganache into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch plain round tip. Pipe ring of ganache around edge of layer. Spread 1/4 cup room-temperature caramel filling evenly inside ring. Sprinkle caramel with large pinch of fleur de sel, then 1 tablespoon almonds. Top with second cake layer, ganache, ganache ring, caramel filling, fleur de sel, and almonds. Repeat with third cake layer. Top with fourth cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining ganache over top and sides of cake. Press remaining almonds onto sides. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour.

*A type of sea salt; available at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

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32 comments:

canarygirl said...

Oh my dear Lord...that is true food porn right there. Drippy caramel...omfg.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

OMG that caramel oozing out of the cake! I think I need a slice!

Dana McCauley said...

Decadent combo! But I think it could be even better with a slightly thicker filling and more finely chopped nuts on the outside. Also, I think I'd sprinkle each piece with some Cyprus flake sea salt. It's bigger than fleur de sel but thinner, too so it is visually gorgeous without adding too much actual saltiness.

Minko said...

SNAP. I was planning to make this cake for my sister's birthday later this week!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Holy Ganache! How unfair that I have to drool over this fabulous cake, knowing that my oven is dead and I can't make it! That caramel oozing from those chocolaty layers is making me weep!

kat said...

this sound like the perfect cake for me...I'm imagining it with the fleur de sel caramel ice cream I'm currently addicted to.

LyB said...

Look at that caramel! A fork, now, please! :)

Maria said...

Oh my goodness! This cake is calling my name!! I can't wait to make it. Thanks for a killer recipe!

lori g said...

Holy cr@p. My teeth hurt just looking at it. I'm grateful I can't get my fork into it, and I'm not a good cook or desiring to be one...I'd be twice my size. Thanks for letting me live through your pictures.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Bri, the next birthday on the family will be mine - I'm bookmarking this cake right now, since this is what I want to celebrate the big 30!

Hannah said...

What an impressive cake- It sounds so rich and decadent, perfect for a serious celebration!

Anita said...

Absolutely divine, Brilynn!

Liz said...

Oooh I love the combination of chocolate and salted caramel. I'll definitely be bookmarking this recipe.

kickpleat said...

oh my! my birthday can't come fast enough :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

My birthday isn't for several months -- may I place my order now? This is definitely the kind of cake I'd love to have -- rich, salty, and beautiful.

noobcook said...

This is a perfect, gorgeous, decadent culinary art!

Manggy said...

Oh good heavens, that is fantastic. Oughter be illegal ;) I should really be checking out Bon Appetit more often! (The covers of late have been disappointing me-- they should take a cue from you!)

Peabody said...

Oh my, I am dropping down onto my knees to bow down to this creation!

nicisme said...

Caramel and chocolate at this time of the morning, what could be a better sight?

Erin said...

This looks amazing! I saw this in Bon Appetit this month and knew I had to make it. I was actually thinking of making it next week. Glad to know you're giving it a great review!

Deborah said...

Ok, seriously. Does it get any better than this??

Aimée said...

My son is turning three soon and I am on the quest for the perfect birthday cake for him..but somehow this one seems a little too, mature? R-rated? Not sure, but it seems more suitable for a date night with me and my honey, if you know what I mean.
Absolutely wicked photos of yours, love them.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Holy crap does that ever sound good! I love the shot of the slice with the caramel filling just oozing out. I'm not sure why a caramel cake filling had never occurred to me before, but I love the sound of it

Leslie said...

I saw this in the mag and have been wanting to make it. I am glad I wont be dissapointed!

kellypea said...

I've been circling this cake slowly knowing that if I made it, I wouldn't want to share. It has all my favorite flavors and oh my have you certainly done it justice. That caramel oozing out...Mmmmm....

Elle said...

I brought my fork...for this cake anyone would. Lucious and decadent!

Hillary said...

Very impressive, yet again. The salted caramel addition sounds delicious!

Megan. said...

i'm impressed! that cake looks absolutely delicious! my mouth is watering all over my keyboard now ;)

min said...

hi, I was wondering if it made a big difference if you didn't use fleur de sel because I'm from Australia and haven't been able to find any. Thankyou!

Brilynn said...

Min- The fleur de sel definitely adds something, but I'm sure this cake would be delicious without it as well, it's chocolate and caramel, how could it not be?

mpls lisa said...

I am almost afraid to make this cake, I would eat it all myself! Must agree with canarygirl, this is triple x food porn, sinful, sinful. Cannot wait to make and have my son want to kill me making break his no sugar diet while in training for a fight! Your pictures make it look so, so good!

Jen said...

::drools::