Monday, September 4, 2017

Rosie Makes A Chocolate And Caramel Cake For Mr. Hawthorne's Birthday.


Heads up, folks!
This is only The Best Cake in the World.

It was Mr. Hawthorne's birthday and I made this cake for him.
Made it for him last year too and he said it was the best cake he'd ever had.
So he's getting it again.

There are two chocolate cake layers which I sliced in half.
Then there's a luscious, gooey caramel filling that goes between each layer
and the whole shebang is covered with a decadent chocolate icing.
It is nothing less than divine.
Trust me.

First, let me give credit where credit's due.
This is not my recipe.
It's from one of my favorite resources: America's Test Kitchen.

Let's start with the chocolate layers.
Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz.) flour
3/4 cup (2 1/4 oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz.) sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Rosie Notes:  For flour, cocoa, and sugar amounts, I went by weight, not volume.
For eggs, I used room temperature.  I set them in warm water while I assembled my mise en place.
To prepare the cake pans, I buttered them and, instead of flouring them, I cocoa'd them.  No white flour showing, plus I have extra chocolate flavor!

For the cake:
Heat oven to 325°.
Butter 2 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Sprinkle cocoa in the pans and shake to lightly coat.

In a large bowl, sift flour and cocoa.  Whisk in sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk buttermilk, water, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

Whisk buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until smooth batter forms.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.

Rosie Note:  Whenever I have a cake batter, I always tap the pans on the counter top several times, to get the air bubbles up to the surface.

Bake about 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool pans on wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove cakes and let cool completely on rack at least 2 hours.

Dry ingredients on left.
Wet ingredients on right.
Prepared pans in back.

Wet mixture into dry mixture.

Whiskie whiskie until smooth.

Pour into prepared pans and tap the pans on counter to remove air bubbles.
Let cool.

Now, the Caramel Filling.
Caramel Filling
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 oz. sugar)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
8 TB unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp kosher salt

Rosie Note:  Again, I measured the sugar by weight, not volume.  And once you start making caramel, you must stand over it and not be distracted, even by an asshole neighbor coming over to complain about "not-my-dog" scratching him in "not-my-yard-but-the-cul-de-sac" while "not-my-dog" was playing with asshole neighbor's dog (not on leash) in the cul-de-sac.  Unfortunately, I had to let Mr. Hawthorne field that one, although next day I suggested said neighbor take a couple of Midols and add some fiber to his friggin' diet.  Jackass.  Anyways, I digress.  Back to the caramel.  As I was saying, caramel is not something you can just leave on top of the stove to take care of itself.  You have to stand there and watch the sugar change color until it's precisely the proper shade of amber.  And if you don't have a laser thermometer, now is the time to get one.  Immediately if not sooner.
For the caramel filling:
Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in medium saucepan.  Bring the mixture to boil over medium heat and cook, without stirring, until mixture is amber colored.  8-10 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, swirling saucepan occasionally, until dark amber - about 375°.

Remove pan from heat and stir in cream, butter, vanilla, and salt.  Mixture will hiss and steam at you.  Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring, until smooth and caramel registers 240°.  
Pour caramel into prepared pan and let cool about 30-40 minutes - until 100°.

Preparation of layers:
 Slice each cake layer in half.
Using an offset spatula, spread 1/3 of caramel on first layer to within 1/2 inch of edges.
Top with cake layer.
Repeat with remaining caramel and cake layers.  (Three cake layers should be topped with caramel.  Top layer has no caramel.)

For the step-by-steps:
Let the sugar melt.

Now, it's starting to turn color.
Watch very carefully.
Use your thermometer.
IGNORE the idiot neighbor who took THIS time to come over, beat on my door, and complain about Not-My-Dog.
This is the amber color you're looking for.

Remove from heat and pour in the cream.

Add in the butter and vanilla.

Whisk until ...
... until creamy smooth.

Return pan to heat.

Bubble and occasionally stir back up to 240°.

Pour into buttered baking dish and let cool.

Pour caramel onto first layer.

Spread out with offset spatula.

Continue with second and ...

... third layers. 

Now the crowning glory - the Chocolate Frosting.
Glorious Chocolate Frosting
16 TB unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (3 oz.) powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Rosie Note:  Again, I went by weight, not volume.
To make less of a mess when frosting, line edges of cake platter with 4 strips of wax or parchment paper, placing cake layers on top.  After frosting, carefully remove paper strips.

For frosting:
In food processor, process butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Add corn syrup and vanilla and process about 10 more seconds.  Scrape down sides of bowl, then add chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy.  Spread frosting evenly over sides and top of cake.

Stand back and admire your handiwork.
Try not to drool.

Step by steps:
Add chocolate to chocolate.
Lick fingers.

Frost away!

Look at the gooey caramel spilling out the side!

I couldn't decide whether I wanted the frosting smooth ...

... or swirly. 

Tough call there.

And here ya go!

Happy Birthday to Mr. Hawthorne!

Make a wish!



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