sweet + salty cake.

Today was one of those rare days when grumpiness strikes me like an unexpected storm. On days such as this, I find that there are two solutions, and they must be pursued in unison: bake a ridiculously rich cake and listen to The Pretenders.

This post chronicles both.

First stop: the cake. I tend to give cakes away after having a slice because, despite my love of baking, I don’t love sugar. I suppose I’m fairly sensitive to it, and I loathe that tired feeling you get after you eat too much. So some of my friends will be getting slices. Expect a sugar high, ladies & gents.

This cake is RICH and requires an unrelenting spirit, so proceed with caution. That being said… I don’t know to where I should attribute this recipe because it was written on a piece of scratch paper, and I found it, amongst other things, on the top of my refrigerator. This seems like an illogical place to store recipes, but, alas, my kitchen isn’t logically organized at first glance.

Chocolate and salt are amazing bedfellows. This is one of the most incredible and complex cakes I’ve ever created (nay, that’s ever existed!), and my recipe is in baking shorthand– it makes sense to me, but it might not be easily understood by others, so let me know. Despite the grumpiness, I’m always happy to answer questions, particularly questions that concern cake.

Secondly… The Pretenders. I unabashadely sang this song as I made the salted carmel. You should too. I’m pretty sure my hip sashaying improved the quality of this dessert.

Happy cooking, and have a good day, everyone! Make this cake, and everyone will thank you. lv, molly

Sweet and Salty Cake

Chocolate Layers
3/4  C dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 C hot water
2/3 C sour cream
2/ 2/3 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C butter (1 1/2 sticks), unsalted, softened
1/2 C vegetable shortening (buy the non-hydrogenated)
1 C firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbl pure vanilla extract

Salted Caramel
1/2 C heavy cream
1 tsp fleur de sel (“flower of salt”– amazing stuff)
1 C sugar
2 Tbl light agave nectar (I refuse to use corn syrup)
1/4 C sour cream

Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting
1/2 lb dark chocolate, chopped
3/4  C heavy cream
1/2 C sugar
1Tbl light agave nectar
1 C unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2″ pieces

2 tsp fleur de sel for garnish

Now to the baking!

Make the cake layers…
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8″ round cake pans; line with parchment paper, and butter parchment. Dust with flour. Knock out excess flour.
In medium bowl, combine cocoa, hot water, sour cream, and set aside to cool.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
With electronic mixer, beat butter and shortening for ~ 5 minutes. Add sugars; beat until light and fluffy– 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Then add the vanilla. Make sure all ingredients are well-incorporated.
Add flour mixture, alternating with cocoa mixture.
Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 mins., rotating pans halfway through. When toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, transfer cakes to wire rack and let cool for 20 mins. Then invert cakes onto the rack, and let cool completely.

Make the salted caramel…
In small saucepan, combine cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over low heat until salt is dissolved.
In medium saucepan, combine 1/4 C water, the sugar, agave nectar, and stir together. Cook for about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool.


Add cream mixture to sugar mixture. Whisk in sour cream. Let caramel cool to room temp. Transfer to airtight container, and refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the cake.

Make the whipped caramel ganache frosting…
Put chocolate in large heatproof bowl; set aside.
In small saucepan, bring cream to simmer over low heat.
In medium saucepan, combine 1/4 C water, sugar, and agave nectar, stirring. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool for 1 min.
Add sour cream to caramel, and stir. Stir slowly for 2 mins.; then pour caramel over chocolate. Let sit for 1 min. Stir in a circle until chocolate is completely melted. Let mixture cool.
Using electric mixer, gradually add the butter, beating thoroughly until fluffy. If the frosting isn’t stiff enough, put it in the fridge for 15-20 mins. A friend taught me this trick; it works wonders.

Assemble the cake…
Place one layer on serving platter. Spread 1/4 C caramel over the top. Let soak into the cake; then add 3/4 C ganache. Don’t measure; just eyeball it. Sprinkle with a little fleur de sel. Continue this process with all the layers, and then frost the whole cake. Garnish with fleur de sel.

Cake keeps for three days in a cool and humidity free environment. If room is too hot (hello, New Yorkers), store the cake in the fridge with some saran wrap or in a cake container.

And I’m not kidding when I say you should listen to this song as you bake… I’m confident it’ll result in some singing.

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2 thoughts on “sweet + salty cake.

  1. Pingback: desserts + a week of french food. « joie de vivre

  2. Pingback: salty sweet cookies. « joie de vivre!

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