The best Chocolate Cake you will ever make

With my promise to mix it up a little bit on the blog, I thought I would start by sharing the best chocolate cake you will ever make.

Cake 2

I have made quite a few chocolate cakes in my time, have sampled my fair share of store bought, bakery case, etc. There is something about this particular cake that stands out from the rest. It may be the caramel, or maybe sea salt component…or maybe because I covered it in amazing not too sweet chocolate frosting…or is it the edible glitter I sprinkled on?!?

Either way, I highly recommend you making this and letting me know your thoughts!

I found this recipe while searching Pinterest back in December. I hosted my day job’s company party at my house for the holidays. We had the main course catered but I knew I had to make a dessert. It would be a typical party at my house without one!

Cake 1

The caramel was coming through the chocolate frosting..and on the bottom of the cake. SOOOO good!

I found the recipe on The Bitten Word, the recipe is from a November 2011 edition of the Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I was sold on making this cake within the first few minutes of reading their description of the cake. They made it for Thanksgiving, but I mean, seriously, you could make this any day, for any event and everyone will leave incredibly happy. Unless they don’t like chocolate cake…and then you shouldn’t have invited them over anyway. =)

Enough talking…on to the recipe

Salted Caramel Six-Layer Chocolate Cake
Martha Stewart Living (November 2011)

(This photo from Martha)

marthas cake

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Yield: Makes one, six layer, 9-inch cake
Serves 12

If you don’t own a candy thermometer, this cake offers a good excuse to buy one. It sounds a little nitpicky, but the caramel should reach exactly 238 degrees. (Any less and the cake layers won’t hold together properly; any more and the caramel will turn hard.) Precision will also pay off with the chocolate frosting: It achieves the ideal spreading texture after standing for 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • For The Cake
    • Unsalted butter, room temperature, for pans
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
    • 3 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • 1 tablepoon baking soda
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • Coarse salt
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons safflower oil
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • For The Caramel
    • 4 cups granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • Coarse salt
    • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • For The Frosting
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • Coarse salt
    • 1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted, and cooled
    • Garnish: flaked sea salt, such as Maldon

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Butter three 9-inch round cake pans, and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Sift flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons course salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, 1 1/2 cups warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  • Divide batter among pans. Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool in pans set on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks, and let cool completely.
  • Make the caramel: Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, without stirring, until mixture is dark amber, about 14 minutes. Remove from heat, and carefully pour in cream (mixture will spatter); stir until smooth. Return to heat, and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees, about 2 minutes. Pour caramel into a medium bowl, stir in 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Let cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, make the frosting: Whisk together cocoa and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water in a bowl until cocoa dissolves. Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and a generous pinch of coarse salt in a clean bowl with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in melted chocolate and then cocoa mixture until combined. Let stand for 30 minutes before using.
  • Trim tops of cakes using a serrated knife to create a level surface. Cut each in half horizontally to form 2 layers. Transfer 1 layer to a serving platter, and spread 3/4 cup caramel over top. Top with another cake layer, and repeat with remaining caramel and cake layers, leaving top uncovered. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
  • Frost top and sides of cake in a swirling motion. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Notes from Martha:
To make this cake ahead of time: The caramel can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before using. Cake layers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days (they actually taste better when refrigerated and have a better texture for stacking). When finished, the frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Notes from Ariela:

  • The type of cocoa powder I used was Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. It is my quick find, go-to cocoa powder. It can be found at most grocery stores in the baking aisle. You can get a more expensive brand, but I think this was just fine! I used the same cocoa powder for both the cake and the frosting.
  • Please buy a candy thermometer. No guessing. The last time I guessed on caramel I had a brick and almost threw the whole pan away, cluding the spoon I stirred it with! The candy thermometer worked really well for this caramel and I think it was the perfect consistency for keeping the cake together but still being able to soak into the layers of chocolate cake.
  • Make the outside of the cake as pretty as you want. I found a couple tutorials on this design for the outside of the cake. It was super easy but had a great effect on the guests. It is amazing how sometimes something so simple can be that impressive! (I only with I would have leveled out the top layer too..it was 3 am and I guess I just wasn’t thinking)
  • Another tool I used for this cake was a layer cake cutter or layer cake leveler. Esentially a hack saw for a cake. I borrowed it from my neighbor and you better believe it is on my list of must buys before I bake my next cake. It worked so well and the layers were perfectly even. No lopsided cake here!
  • And here is where I get my edible glitter (It is called Disco Dust). I use it for cupcakes, cakes and anything else that needs a little sparkle. Because…why not!
  • I don’t have a photo of the center of my cake. But it was a bit different than tha photo of Martha’s Cake above. Perhaps my caramel was a little more on the soft side so it soaked into the layers of the cake. Or it could also be because I finished it a day and a half before it was cut into, giving it the time to soak in. Either way you make it, you will be happy. With the caramel between each layer, it makes the most moist cake ever. I mean when you put 3/4 of a cup of caramel in each of the 6 layers…..

This is a photo from The Bitten Word. I didn’t take a photo as I was making this cake because 1. I was covered in cake, caramel and frosting and 2. It was 3 am in the morning when I got to the assembly part. Wasn’t even thinking about it. This photo shows the layers and how much of a mess it really is. It is all worth it though!

the bitten words cake

(Photo from The Bitten Word)

Please make this cake. And please share some photos! I plan on making this cake again very soon but on a cute, mini version.

What are your favorite cake recipes? I am always on the look out for something new!

~Ariela

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