Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cake with Whipped Caramel-Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate cake is 100% my biggest weakness. I will always go for a piece of chocolate cake and while brownies might be my favorite dessert, chocolate cake is a very, very close second. And chocolate cake that has chocolate-caramel whipped frosting, has a salty component and is layered? Yeah, there’s no chance that anything is going to stand in the way of me eating a piece of that deliciousness.

This recipe has been taunting me from my Baked cookbook since I received it for Christmas. I definitely love caramel and I love anything that’s salt and sweet. I kept waiting for the perfect excuse to make it and finally Valentine’s Day rolled around. Perfect enough excuse for me!! 🙂

This cake involves layers and steps and time but it’s so worth it in the end. The original recipe calls for 3 8-inch round cake pans but one of my 8-inch pans disappeared in the move to this house so I used two round 9-inch pans and it worked beautifully. It just meant more cake than frosting and that’s always good in my book.

Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cake with Whipped Caramel-Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Sweet & salty chocolate cake with whipped caramel chocolate ganache frosting

Printable Version

For the cake:

  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • 2 ⅔ cups cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla
  • ~½ cup salted caramel (recipe below)
  • Whipped Caramel-Chocolate Ganache Frosting (recipe below)
  • Fleur de sel or sea salt, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line each pan with a parchment paper round, butter parchment paper and flour; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, 1 ¼ cups hot water, and sour cream; set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.

3. In another large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth and it appears to create strings inside the bowl, about 7 minutes. Add both sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes.

5. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and mix again for 30 seconds. Add flour mixture alternating with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

6. Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake until cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 18 to 24 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the salted caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. fleur de sel
  • ¼ cup sour cream

1. Combine ¼ cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350°F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, mix together cream and salt. Bring cream to a boil and cook until salt has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. When the caramel mixture has reached 350°F, remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Carefully add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Whisk in sour cream. Cool, and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

For the Whipped Caramel-Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  • 1 lb. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened but still cool
  • 1 ½-2 cups powdered sugar, to thicken

1. Combine ¼ cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350°F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

2. In another small saucepan add cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. When the caramel mixture has reached 350°F, remove from heat and allow to rest for 1 minute. Add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Let cool 5 minutes. Place chocolate in the bowl of an electric mixer and pour caramel sauce over chocolate. Let sit 1 minute before stirring from the center until chocolate is melted.

4. Attach bowl to electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Add butter and increase speed to medium-high until mixture is well combined, thickened, and slightly whipped, about 2-4 minutes. If mixture does not thicken, begin adding powdered sugar ½ cup at a time to thicken frosting to appropriate level.

To assemble cake:

1. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four pieces of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate and place the first layer on the cake plate.

2. Using about ¼ cup of the caramel, spread a thin layer on the cake, allowing some of the caramel to soak into the cake.

3. Follow the caramel layer with a layer of about 1 cup of the ganache icing. Place the second layer on top and repeat process with another layer of caramel followed by a crumb coat of the ganache frosting. Chill for 15 minutes in the refrigerator and frosting with full layer of icing and garnish with a sprinkling of Fleur de sel or sea salt.

barely adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.

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