How AMAZING does this chocolate caramel cake look? It starts with a divine chocolate cake that is covered with a caramel filling, Swiss meringue buttercream and is finally topped off with a chocolate ganache.
Addie Day 2021. It was a day in the making for… oh, a few weeks. Months, even. My dear daughter loves her dad very much but gets jealous in the month of June. You see, it’s his birthday AND Father’s Day, and sometimes they fall on the same day. As a result, he gets to choose two desserts to celebrate.
Hence the jealousy.
A year or so ago, I told Addie that she could have an “Addie Day” where we just celebrate her. Yes, yes, I know that everyday is Addie Day but I don’t make desserts every day. I should, but I don’t.
Addie finally picked a day in July to make entirely her own. I even let her invite a few friends for a little sleepover. During the pandemic, we hired an interior designer to help us refresh our bonus room. Part of the redesign resulted in two new day beds – specifically for hosting sleepovers and extra guests. This would be an opportunity for Addie to finally try out the day beds and our newly redesigned space.
Sadly, a few of Addie’s original invitees were unable to attend, so she invited a few new friends. There were only 3 total girls, including Addie. It was a great way to try hosting a sleepover and see how she handled it. I made this cake especially for the sleepover, but sadly, one of the girls is lactose intolerant and wasn’t able to eat it without taking some medicine beforehand.
I’m happy to report that the sleepover was a success and that the girls had fun. The cake, while not decorated as perfectly as I wanted, was a hit. I am already anticipating the next Addie Day and wonder what fun flavor combination my daughter will come up with for that!
PS – The original Italian buttercream that is listed in the recipe did not work for me. Sadly, it was a soupy mess (and I did not add the butter since my meringue did not come together). I reached out to the King Arthur Baking hotline, and they were unable to help. So I started over and used the Swiss meringue buttercream from the lemon cake I posted earlier, minus the lemon.
Husband’s rating: 4 out of 5
Addie’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
Chocolate caramel cake
- 2 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 and ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter room temperature
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil I used canola
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk I used 1%
- ½ cup coffee or water
- 4 large eggs
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 Tablespoons dark rum optional
- 2 and ¼ cups brown sugar packed
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 and ½ teaspoons corn syrup
- 12 Tablespoons (1 and ½ sticks) unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream or heavy cream
- 1 and ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup filling reserved from above
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- 1 recipe Italian buttercream see below
- ½ cup water
- 1 and ½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup meringue powder
- 1 cup water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 48 Tablespoons (4 sticks) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon corn syrup
- ⅔ cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chopped
Bake the cake
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Generously grease or line two 8" round baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl if using a handheld mixer, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and sugar.
- Add the butter and mix on medium low speed for 1 minute. Add the oil and mix for another minute.
- In a large measuring cup, mix together the milk and coffee (or water) with the vanilla. Gently pour this into your stand mixer and allow to mix for another 30 seconds or so.
- Add the eggs, one by one, making sure each is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next.
- Evenly distribute the batter between your two baking pans and bake in your preheated oven for 35-38 minutes or until the top gently bounces back when you poke it with a finger.
- Set the cakes aside to cool while you work on the next section.
Make the syrup
- In a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup (or in a small saucepan), heat up the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the rum if using and set aside to cool.
- Once the cakes have cooled, slice each in half horizontally. Brush the syrup over the tops of each half of cake.
Make the filling
- In a medium sized saucepan, heat up all of the filling ingredients over medium heat EXCEPT for the vanilla. Stir constantly until the sugar begins to melt. Then stop stirring and allow it to heat up on its own (do NOT stir). Allow the mixture to come to 238 degrees F (soft ball stage).
- Turn off the stove, take the saucepan off the heat, and stir in the vanilla. Immediately pour ¼ of the filling into a small bowl or measuring cup and set aside for later.
- Allow the remaining filling to set for about 8 minutes to cool slightly. Then pour this on top of 3 of the cake layers (leave the 4th layer untouched). It's OK if the filling spills over the sides. Set aside.
Make the frosting
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, mix together the water and sugar. Without stirring, allow it to reach 240°F (do NOT allow it go above 250°F).
- While the sugar is boiling, add the milk to your reserved ¼ of filling. You may need to heat it up in the microwave to fully incorporate it. Mix well until it is pourable.
- While the sugar is boiling, add the meringue powder, 1 cup of water, salt and ⅓ cup of granulated sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer). Whisk on high speed. Your mixture will look foamy, then streaky, and eventually will become stiff.
- Once your hot sugar syrup has reached 240°F, pour the warm milk filling into it and mix well.
- Now pour the hot sugar syrup into the mixing bowl with the mixer still running. Try not to pour the sugar syrup onto the whisk or sides of the bowl or else it will harden. Keep mixing on medium to high speed until the mixture cools down to about 80°F. If needed, you can wrap the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice to cool down frosting.
- With the mixer still on medium to medium high speed, slowly add the butter, one piece at a time. It may start to curdle and look like it's breaking, but don't give up. The frosting will come back together after a few minutes of mixing. Add the vanilla and mix well.
Assemble the cake
- Place one of the frosted layers on top of a cake plate or serving platter. Spread a layer of frosting on top. Add another cake layer and top with another layer of frosting. Add the third layer and repeat. Add the final layer of cake, flat side facing up so you have a flat surface to work with.
- Using an offset spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake with the frosting. Refrigerate the cake while you make the ganache.
Make the ganache
- Place the chocolate in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, heat up the cream and corn syrup until almost boiling. Pour this over the top of the chocolate and allow it to sit for 1-2 minutes.
- Vigorously mix the chocolate until it is smooth and shiny. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, and allow some of it to run down the sides of the cake if desired.
- Allow the ganache to set before slicing and serving.