Another Strong Finish

The marriage of two wonderful ingredients I have come to understand and appreciate the love of all things chocolate.   This from a woman who does not crave or care much for chocolate.  As I know this is a favorite...

The marriage of two wonderful ingredients
The marriage of two wonderful ingredients

I have come to understand and appreciate the love of all things chocolate.   This from a woman who does not crave or care much for chocolate.  As I know this is a favorite dessert of many, I always keep my eye out for something of interest.  I knew I was on to something when I uncovered The Slow Roasted Italian’s posting of Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate Cake.  Donna Elick had me at Salted Caramel!  I solicited a willing taste-tester and took the opportunity to create this buttermilk chocolate cake and salted caramel frosting that produced an outstanding, very rich, moist and decadent cake.    Use the best ingredients you can find to create this layered treat.  The cake is very simple to make and the frosting is too, but you will need to plan for time to chill and rest the frosting for the best results.   These steps add to the complex flavors of this incredible icing.  The bonus is that the recipe makes a gracious plenty of frosting that can be shared or re-purposed to top some ice cream, maybe some pound cake, or possibly a dip for shortbread cookies.

Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate Cake 

Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate Cake
Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate Cake

From The Slow Roasted Italian – September 23, 2011

Recipe from Anne Thornton

Ingredients:

  • 18 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks room temperature unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 Chocolate Cake recipe, recipe follows
  • Sea salt flakes (recommended: Maldon)

Directions:

  1. Put your chocolates in a big bowl. Put the sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring up to a boil. As soon that happens, stop stirring and let it boil until it turns an amber color, 8 to 10 minutes or so. (If you think that it needs another stir, brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, and stir the entire mixture, picking up the pot itself by the handle, being careful not to touch the caramel or else it could crystallize.)
  2. Once the mixture reaches that dark amber color, turn the heat down. Stand back from the pot and add the cream very slowly, stirring with a heatproof spatula. (If you are nervous about the steam, wear a kitchen glove to protect your hand.) Continue to stir until all is incorporated.
  3. Once the mixture is smooth, stir in the fine salt. Take off the heat and pour the caramel over the bowl of chocolate.  Whisk to combine, making sure all the chocolate melts. Pop in the fridge for about 1 hour until completely chilled.
  4. Take the frosting out of the fridge and beat it with a hand mixer just until it becomes spreadable. Add the butter in pieces and mix until it's all combined.  Pop back into the refrigerator for another hour.
  5. Place 1 cake layer on a cake platter, flat-side up. (You want the cake flat-side up so when you get into it you'll have nice and even layers.) Evenly spread 2 cups of the frosting over the top. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes, then put the other cake layer on top, flat-side up.
  6. Spread the rest of the frosting over the top and on the sides of the cake. Sprinkle the top with more salt flakes.
  7.  I rested the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  The cold accented the distinct flavors of salty and sweet!

Chocolate Cake:

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk (or make your own)

Directions:

  1. Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (9 by 2-inch) nonstick round cake pans. Line the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper, and then butter the paper.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together onto parchment paper. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 4 or 5 minutes.
  3. Add your eggs, 1 at a time, mixing until completely incorporated before adding each additional egg.
  4. Mix in the chocolate and vanilla, making sure to combine really well. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, in 3 batches, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Make sure to let it mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour half the batter in each pan and spread it evenly with a spatula or butter knife. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 25 minutes.
  6. Remove the pans to racks and allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes or so. Loosen the edges of the cake from the pan with a knife, then turn them onto the racks. Remove the paper and let the cakes completely cool.

If you are inspired and want other chocolate ideas, here are some of my favorites.  These have all been field tested by a discerning group of chocolate lovers.

A crowd favorite is the infamous Chocolate Ganache Cake that Ina Garten has created. The secret here is to create the Ganache at the time of serving to really put this dessert over the top!  A Chocolate Birthday Torte has also been a favorite of many.  It is a show-stopper with four layers of cake and whipped cream that makes this dessert so special and memorable.    I almost forgot the ingenious Chocolate Carmel Pretzel Brownies using a brownie mix and adding caramel sauce and pretzels for that salty/sweet combination.  

Solicit the help of a trusted taste tester and create your next dessert option.  Never forgetting to create a grand finish with your dessert!

What is your favorite chocolate dessert?