Monday, September 20, 2010

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Birthday Layer Cake



So before I tell you about this luscious chocolate layer cake, I just want to mention that today marks opening day for voting in Project Food Blog 2010!  Don't have any clue what I am talking about?  You can find some info here, and also see my profile by clicking on the cute little widget with my cute little picture that is over on the sidebar (or here).  In a nutshell, 2,000+ bloggers will compete in a series of challenges to determine who is the next food blog star.  Oh yeah, and that person will win $10,000.  A minor detail of course.  Since I am participating (and fiercely competitive), I would love your support and your votes!  I really hope you enjoyed reading my first entry and you can vote for me using this link, just click the heart!  Also, on the voting page you can share my entry on Facebook or Twitter.  Isn't technology these days wonderful?    

And now, without further ado... On to the birthday festivities!  

I am a little late in posting this cake, since I made it August for my good friends Jenn and Jill.  They both have birthdays within weeks of each other, although Jill is a Leo and Jenn is a Virgo.  (I am sure you were dying to know that.)  I thought about having a separate birthday celebration for each of them, but then it seemed like too much to take on, even for me, especially considering I was making a second layer cake that same weekend.  So, to properly celebrate both their birthdays, I decided I would make them a spectacular cake that was just to their liking. 



I already had a good idea about the kinds of flavors that were their favorites, but to be absolutely sure, I asked them in advance while we chatting online what kind of cake they would like.  This is what they said:

Jill: oooh....hmm
  i looooove chocolate icing
  but i also adore anything with caramel
  esp. salted caramelme: ah, yes salted caramel is delicious.
 Jill: i would not be opposed to salted caramel frosting
  i would also not be opposed to that fantastic white chocolate mousse you made
  as a filling
 Jill: i would, however, be opposed to carrot cake
Jennifer: the cake that jill make last year for her own birthday was honestly, the best cake ever, strawberry with lemon cream frostingme: oh... i never got to try that one!  it does sound delicious!Jennifer: i also enjoy anything with chocolate frosting or chocolate ganache. not a fan of peanut butter though.














Jennifer: hey, you know what else i'd like for my birthday?  heehee :)  i'd like a macaroon       




Can I just say that I love my friends? :)  

So, by their request (and because I seem to find it impossible to turn down chocolate and caramel) I decided to make them a chocolate layer cake, with chocolate ganache and a bit of salted caramel and buttercream to take it right over the top.  This might not be your typical fluffy birthday layer cake, but ohhhhhh... this was definitely a cake for a special occasion.  


I wanted to be absolutely sure this cake would be incredible, so rather than trying to experiment too much, I decided to go with recipes that were already tried-and-true and destined for success.  I used the cake and ganache recipe from this one that I found on Epicurious; it seemed straightforward (meaning, low on the difficulty and high on the chocolate content), it had a high fork rating, and 100% of reviewers said they would make it again.  I took this as a good sign.  To add the salted caramel to the cake, I used a recipe for Salted Caramel Buttercream that I found from Ali of Gimme Some Oven. (It should be mentioned that I might have preferentially chosen her buttercream because it looks delicious, but also because I love her blog name.  I am powerless to resist plays on words.)  I used half of the salted caramel to make buttercream, and saved half of the caramel to just spread on the bottom of one of the layers. 

As you can see from the photo, this cake was rich and dense and everything that I dreamed it would be.  The ganache was especially smooth and creamy, and paired perfectly with the the soft chocolate cake.  In retrospect, adding the layers of salted caramel and buttercream was inspired genius since the salt from the caramel did a perfect job of balancing the all the rich, sweet chocolate.  With all this chocolately decadence, do you want to know what the best part for me was?  My friends absolutely adored it!  They were so excited when they saw it, and after taking a bite, huge smiles lit up their faces.  A complete birthday success.  Looks like my job is done here. 



Chocolate and Salted Caramel Birthday Layer Cake

Cake and Ganache recipe from Bon Appetit, by way of Epicurious, made with only these small changes: 

-Decrease sugar in cake to 1 1/2 cup.
-For chocolate ganache, use quality dark chocolate. 
-I did not use round pans with 2-inch sides, just regular ones.  This meant the two cakes were 'domed' a bit, even after cooling, and so for the bottom layer I just sliced off the top to make it flat.  For the top layer, I left it as is. 
-Omit raspberry filling, raspberries for topping, and powdered sugar.  

  
So essentially I took her recipe, and first made the caramel using her instructions and ingredient proportions (1/4 cup sugar, 2 tbsp water, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla).  Then I split the caramel in half into two portions.  For one portion, mixed in 1/8 tsp salt to make salted caramel and set it aside.  The other portion I used to make the buttercream by combining the caramel with 3/4 stick of salted butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar, again, according to her instructions.  

Once you have all the components for the cake ready to go (chocolate cakes, chocolate ganache, salted caramel, and salted caramel buttercream) assembly is straightforward if you just follow the recipe from Epicurious.  For the ganache and buttercream in between the two cakes, first spread on a layer of salted caramel, then a layer of chocolate ganache, then a layer of salted caramel buttercream.  To finish off the cake, fill a pastry bag with the remaining salted caramel buttercream to decorate the top and write Happy Birthday.  Keep cake refrigerated until needed, and then let come to room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.  

51 comments:

  1. Ok, this has me drooling! Salted caramel and dark chocolate is one of my favorite combinations, and the sliced cake is so sleek!

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  2. Amazing! Utterly amazing and I want YOU to come to my house and make this for me for my next birthday! Please! Amazing! The perfect, super dense, fudgy chocolate cake and gorgeous chocolate ganache and WOW that layer of salted caramel buttercream is worth every single calorie! Just stunning!

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  3. Oh wow! This looks sinfully good. My husband would love all the chocolatey goodness! Absolutely beautiful cake:)

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  4. What a beautiful cake! You have a lot of talent! Good luck on PFB :)

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  5. Yep, another home-run by The Cilantropist. This cake was amazing, o.m.g. amazing. Also, dang, I'm really gripping that knife for dear life in the first photo. That is how seriously I take chocolate and salted caramel.

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  6. Aw, this is such a beautiful cake! I love the setup also. I feel like I haven't been here in so long! Sorry I have been a bad blogger friend - hahaha...

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  7. WOW! Thank you for posting this delicious-ness for me to enjoy reading about during my lunch break! When it comes to chocolate cake, I ONLY want it dense, heavy, and fudgy (don't give me the light and fluffy stuff!). This cake fits the bill. Yum :)

    Hope you're having a great day!

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  8. Lovely lovely post...I am dying to try this! I think your blog has gone crazy over the top good lately.

    That Cake stand...want - where did you get it?

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  9. Oh yah...we should do a San Diego Cookie baking day for the holidays!

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  10. Oh Amanda you are so crafty, I have absolutely no skills for cake decoration. All my attempts were major fiascos. LOL
    It looks so pretty, must be yummy too. Good luck with the challenges.

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  11. Beautiful cake! I especially love the layered look of the filling. I want to be your friend so I can get a chocolate birthday cake too! :)

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  12. Oh yes, that cake deserves a vote! Good luck to you! Love to watch you go all the way!
    -Gina-

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  13. Gorgeous! The cake looks like something I wouldn't be able to eat just one piece of. The salty caramel...mmmm!

    Very cute post--just voted!

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  14. Gorgeous cake... absolutely wonderful. I should try to make a cake sometime (I am terrible :(
    OK, going to vote now :) Best wishes to you with the challenges, I know you will be amazing :)

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  15. This is a LOVELY new post. And a delicious looking cake. I love me some salted caramel.

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  16. Love the cake! Just voted and good luck in PFB!

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  17. You had me at "Salted Caramel" then put it in a chocolate cake. Outstanding. You did a beautiful job! Just popped a vote in for you!! :)

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  18. This is an amazing cake! Your friends are very lucky! I'm in awe of that salted caramel buttercream. By the way, your piping work for the "happy birthday" is really good!

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  19. Jamie: Wow, I am overwhelmed by all those compliments! Maybe in return for your kind words I can send you a slice of cake the next time I make it. ;)

    Jill: Didn't notice it until you pointed it out, but you do definitely have a death grip on that knife. Seriously. You were not letting that cake escape.

    Roxan: Good to have you back, I've missed you!

    Jenni: I got the cake stand from Crate and Barrel for the bargain price of only $7.95, you can still order it online here (http://www.crateandbarrel.com/outlet/serving-pieces/wire-pedestal/s589236) or maybe find it in the store? Also, lets DEFINITELY bake cookies! We need to set a date.

    Anna and Marisa: Thanks for the compliments on my cake decorating, it makes me feel special and 'crafty.' :D

    All: Thanks for the PFB votes, I am VERY appreciative of all your support! Hugs!

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  20. Wow!!! This looks absolutely to die for. Love ganache!! Beautiful pictures too!!

    Erin

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  21. This looks divine! The ganacha looks so smooth.

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  22. ::drools:: i would like to officially reserve your awesome cake skills for my birthday next year! well done!

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  23. This looks totally decadent! Good luck. You have my vote :)

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  24. What a fantastic friend you are! This cake looks divine. I love the pretty layers.

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  25. You forgot to mention how we ate this cake for breakfast, went to the beach, ate more for lunch, and then you sent us home with it to eat again for dinner and dessert :)

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  26. Wow. Not only are you a generous friend, but so creative too. The cake looks good enough to eat right out of the photos (which are stunning, by the way!) Have I drooled enough? Thanks for sharing!

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  27. Salted caramel...I am drooling! This cake sounds amazing, which is why i'm voting for you right now...and because you are amazing!

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  28. Now THIS is the kind of birthday cake I'd want!! And it's beautiful to boot!

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  29. Oh! Such a cute post...the chocolate cake looks so yummie, so nice decorated :-)

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  30. That sounds like a fantastic cake! You're a great friend!

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  31. Your cake looks seriously amazing! I would love to have a slice right now! Will vote for you for pfb!

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  32. Beautiful cake. Simply gorgeous. And must taste amazing. Good luck with PFB. You are very talented.

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  33. Such an amazingly luscious looking cake. Salted Caramel and Chocolate is the bombest combo ever.

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  34. Oh this looks delicious! I just tried Starbucks salted caramel hot chocolate the other day and it was soo good! Nice work!

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  35. um, oh my goodness. it's my bday on sunday - would you mind making me one? :)
    this looks absolutely incredible. i might have to make my own birthday cake this year!!!

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  36. Ack! It kills me when you post stuff like this, my poor blood sugars! ;)

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  37. This looks SO delicious! I recently made some salted white chocolate cookies...I love the idea of the savory and sweet! Thanks for the recipe.:)

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  38. That is a PERFECT birthday cake. I'm wanting to find someone having a birthday so I can make it now!

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  39. As you can tell, I am a sucker for chocolate and caramel... The cake is BEAUTIFUL! You did a wonderful job! - MEgan

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  40. Wow, this looks so yummy! Can we be friends and you make one for my birthday? :-)

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  41. How yummy that cake looks! Salted Caramel is seasonal at starbucks and I don't think I've ever seen a dessert like that. Awesome recipe! It looks delicious!

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  42. Definitely looks like the chocolate cake I dream about. How did I miss this? I'm glad I just noticed it on my reader. Bookmarking it for later!

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  43. i stumbled upon your blog and have been browsing some of the recipes you've posted (you have a lovely blog, by the way). i know someone that's going to LOVE this cake and i can't wait to make it...mostly, so i get a slice too of course :)

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  44. Anjali: Glad you stopped by and are enjoying the recipes! I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't love this cake, so I am sure it will be a success. :) Don't hesitate to email with any questions, enjoy!

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