Monday, July 9, 2012


I had a lovely three day weekend (after a nice three day week thanks to the holiday) that, in addition to a well spent beach day was exceptionally nice because it was the birthday of one of my dear blog readers (you're still reading, right ChiChi?). I offered to make him the cake of his choosing because he lives with me, and he's pretty great. (Editorial note: This is not to discount my other wonderful blog readers. I would gladly make customized cakes for your birthdays as well but for the lack of proximity issue.) Anyway, his cake of choice was chocolate, which gave me pretty free reign to do whatever I wanted. After all, it's pretty hard to screw up a chocolate cake, and it's exceptionally easy to elevate it to another level of deliciousness. My weapon of choice: salted caramel.

I chose to adapt a recipe for a six-layer cake with layers of salted caramel and a rich, almost ganache-like chocolate frosting. When I say, "adapted," I mean I scaled it down from a six-layer cake to a four-layer one, mostly because I had to transport the cake in a car, and six layers didn't strike me as structurally stable. Well, perhaps six layers can be structurally stable, but I doubted my ability to make that happen.

The cake was made in stages. I was able to bake the cakes themselves the night before as well as make the salted caramel. This was a task made more difficult by the fact that we were experiencing a heat wave. Because of the way my apartment is laid out, my kitchen is always the hottest room in my apartment--it is the only room without a ceiling fan, and its window faces an entrance courtyard that prevents much of a breeze. Add a 350 degree oven and caramel work on the stove, and I was rather wishing his birthday didn't have to be in July. I blame heat for the fact that after I finally broke down and bought a candy thermometer for proper caramel heating, in my heat induced movements, I managed to drop it on the floor while removing it from its packaging. What's less useful than a working candy thermometer? Shards of glass all over your kitchen floor.

At any rate, I resorted to my usual "just wait and see and hope it doesn't burn" method of caramel making and it turned out just fine. To actually assemble the cake, I tried a new trick I read about for cutting cakes into layers. Instead of buying one of those fancy wire cake cutters, you can just use unflavored, waxed dental floss. You place toothpicks along the side of the cake where you want to divide it and then lay the dental floss on top. Then you just pull the loop tight and it cuts right through the cake. Works like a charm! I just thought I'd share that in case I'm not the last person to hear of this trick.

Once I divided my cake into properly leveled layers, I spread some delicious salted caramel on them. Like so.

Here is the cake stacked up, but pre-frosted. Clearly, the structural integrity is lacking in this shot, but I promise it was just because the caramel was hot. Once I shoved it back upright and refrigerated it for an hour, it looked much less like the Tower of Pisa. Looking back, I question why my priorities were geared more toward photographing the cake instead of righting it, but you'll just have to trust me that it turned out okay.

See? Already better. This is the cake frosted, mostly. I realized that my cake carrier was actually touching the top of the cake (the downside of making a four-layer cake, I suppose, and further validation of my decision to not make it six). As such, frosting the top was saved until the cake reached its final destination. Unfortunately, after that happened, I forgot to take a final picture. You'll just have to use your imagination. Picture if you will: the exact image above but with a different shade of brown on top. Also, there were neon candles.

Here's the recipe for those interested in trying it yourself, the only alterations I made to the recipe were scaling everything back by a third. I recommend it fully! Well received by all. Plus I still have extra salted caramel, which will go perfectly with the chocolate ice cream I'm making.


  1. What? No testimonial for Chi Chi?

  2. I want to eat that cake! I guess there is not a good chance of making it dairy free?

  3. You could definitely make the cake dairy free (with the milk sub of your choice). Caramel might be a little harder since it's all cream and butter...

  4. That was the best cake ever! Words can not express my gratitude... and yes, I'm still reading! You can count on it!

  5. This looks delicious! Ever consider opening a bakery?

  6. Not too late to have mini ones for your wedding :)

  7. This cake has a lot of personality. I like it.