Friday, June 15, 2012


That's the only way to describe the cake I made recently.  Layers of chocolate cake, filled with caramel buttercream, then topped with a spiced chocolate ganache.  Because I don't want to be 500 lbs, I invited all the kids and moms from the bus stop to have a piece after school.  But I probably could have eaten half of the cake all by myself, if given the chance. We found that one cake will feed about 16 people.

I mean, seriously, wouldn't you want to eat this whole thing? But don't.  Just don't.  Somewhere along the way, you would regret it.

I adapted the cake recipe  from Hershey's, and it's going to be my go-to chocolate cake recipe. It's easy and delicious!  I used a combination of all purpose and cake flour, but you could use only all-purpose, if that's what you have. The buttercream was left over from the cupcakes I made earlier, and the ganache came from a different cake recipe. I think the addition of corn syrup is what makes it stay glossy and a little softer than traditional ganache.  It's so good!

The frosting with really soft, so it started oozing out between the layers.  I tried to work fast once the top layer was put on.  I kept it in the fridge until I was ready to put on the ganache.

Here's the final product.  The chocolate I used had a little spice to it, so I enhanced it with a little additional cinnamon.  The combination of the chocolate, caramel and cinnamon was really delicious!

Decadent Chocolate Cake with Caramel Buttercream and Spiced Ganache


2 cups sugar
3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 1/3 c. cake flour
3/4 c. cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup strong, hot coffee
1/2 cup boiling water

Caramel Buttercream:

5 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, diced and softened to room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup caramel sauce (I used Smucker's brand, but I would recommend a higher-quality or home-made version to get a deeper caramel flavor)

Spiced Chocolate Ganache:

6 oz. semisweet chocolate
5 Tbsp. whipping cream
3 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 tsp. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

To make the cake:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Cut parchment paper into two circles to fit inside the pans. Grease the parchment paper.
  2. Stir together sugar, flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in hot coffee and boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly between the pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick (toothpick) inserted in center comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and cool in pans for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the outside of the cake layers to help loosen the cake layers.  Remove layers from cake pans and peel parchment paper off.  Let layers cool completely.

For the Caramel Buttercream:

  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly (it took about 10 minutes for me, but if you have a candy thermometer, I suggest you hook that to the side of your bowl so you know for sure). The point of heating the egg whites and the sugar together is to get the sugar completely dissolved, so it should feel smooth and not at all gritty when you rub some of the mixture between your fingers. 
  2. Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment, and beat mixture, starting on low, then gradually increasing speed up to medium-high until mixture cools and doubles in volume.  It should be completely cool and will form stiff peaks if you pull the beater out.
  3. Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture may appear clumpy and almost curdled looking-this is normal. Keep mixing and it will become even and smooth again. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine. Add caramel sauce and mix to combine.

For the Spiced Chocolate Ganache:

  1. In a double boiler, with the bowl over warm water over low heat, combine whipping cream and chocolate and heat until just melted and whisk smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, piece by piece, until smooth, then add corn syrup, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.  Let cool slightly

Assemble the cake:

Place one layer on platter or serving plate. Slide 4-5 strips of waxed paper or parchment paper under the bottom layer (between the cake and the serving platter). Spread half of buttercream on bottom layer, top with second layer. Top the second layer with the rest of the buttercream. Refrigerate layers for 30 minutes. Pull out the parchment strips.  Pour ganache on top of cake, letting it fall and drip over the sides of the cake.


You can use as much or as little of the buttercream as you like.  If you don't want a thick layer of it, then don't use as much.  I like frosting, so I used all of it.  :-)

If all of these steps seem daunting all at once, you can definitely do it in parts.  The cake can be made ahead and frozen (wrap in a layer of plastic wrap then another layer of aluminum foil...unthaw in the fridge), and the buttercream can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated until you're ready.  Even the ganache can be made ahead and warmed up in the microwave until it's thin enough to pour.

If you don't like the coffee taste in the cake, you can leave it out and just use a full cup of boiling water.  I find that a little coffee flavor helps enhance the chocolate, but not everyone likes that.  Make it to your own taste!

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