baking recipe sweets The Tuesday Treat

The Tuesday Treat: Chocolate Cake w. Salted Caramel Buttercream

29 May 2012

For an explanation of The Tuesday Treat, see here.

Chocolate Cake with Ganache and Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Because I can’t – and don’t – do things half-way, I made two cakes for my husband’s birthday last week: a coconut-pineapple confectionery dream that was the most beautiful incarnation of that recipe yet (I credit the organic flaked coconut I toasted and scattered across its top), and a chocolate cake filled with chocolate ganache and frosted with salted caramel buttercream. What’s a birthday without lots of cake, right?! Plus, I wanted an excuse to make salted caramel buttercream because salted caramel buttercream. There’s not much else to say beyond that.

Thirteen of us devoured the coconut cake as the finale to a birthday lunch in Marin (not a scrap was left) and I tucked away a few slices of the chocolate cake to take with us on our wine country adventuring the next day. We ate it under the euculyptus trees in Jack London State Park after picnicking in the shade and tried to savor every bite (or in other words: “I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”). I think JL would have approved. I thought of literary heroes long gone and felt the breeze warm on my face and remembered again how lucky we are to live in California. The trees sighed and the sun shone and there was no better place to be just then. Though I may have wished for a bit more cake. (Fortunately, there were leftovers.)

For the cake, from the Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters

4 ounces unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
Stick of butter (8 Tbsp), softened
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and dust the pan with a little cocoa powder. Shake out the excess.

Melt the chocolate. Set aside.

Whisk the dry ingredients together.

In a large bowl, cream butter. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time and mix well to incorporate.

Stir in melted chocolate. Add half the dry ingredients and combine. Add the buttermilk and the rest of the dry ingredients and combine. Add the boiling water on low speed until just incorporated.

Pour batter into pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the ganache
(you’ll probably have leftovers)

1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Heat the cream until just barely boiling and remove from heat and pour over the chips. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then whisk and stir to completely melt the chocolate into the cream. Whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool – the ganache will thicken as it cools. Tip: I stick the bowl in the fridge for a bit to speed up the process.



For the frosting

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (or more) powdered sugar

Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (make sure sugar is melted). Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove from heat and very slowly – mixture may froth up initially – add in cream and vanilla, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth. Stir in the salt. Set aside until cool, about 25 minutes.

Then, cream the butter in a large bowl, beat on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add the caramel and powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated.

  • candace 11 June 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I am making a cake for 50 people and i am very seriously considering this little number. in your opinion can i just double this or triple ? does it multiply without any problem or should i make a cake and cupcakes ?

  • Mary Grover 1 June 2012 at 11:28 am

    I made the cake a while back and was very glad I had more than one 9″ pan. I made two nine-inch cakes. I didn’t make them into a layer cake. The picture here shows three layers which leaves me wondering just how the final product was assembled. The cake I made was delicious but I had forgotten how much of a mess cake baking would create and how many bowls I’d wind up using.

  • Rachel Dangermond 30 May 2012 at 12:50 pm

    This is firmly at the top of my to do list! Yum.

  • art and lemons 30 May 2012 at 10:26 am

    I arrived here at just the right time! That recipe of Alice Waters’ is my favorite for chocolate cakes but oh, that ganache filled and salted caramel buttercream topped cake means I need to get out the mixing bowls immediately and finally celebrate my (three plus weeks ago) birthday with candles.

  • Janet Bright 29 May 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Looks great, but does all the batter go into one 9-inch pan?

  • Spencer 29 May 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Looks absolutely delicious! It is my son’s birthday coming up soon so I might have to try and recreate the recipe.

  • sizzle 29 May 2012 at 9:27 am

    OMG that looks amazing. I love salted butter cream. MMMM.

  • Melissa // thefauxmartha 29 May 2012 at 8:59 am

    Whoa, this looks like the cake I made for my sisters wedding with the frosting switched. I love it! Looks divine!