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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Cake

As Michael eyed three cake layers cooling on the table he wanted to know if that was his "late" birthday cake. I distinctly recall asking if he wanted a cake and being told "no." Oh well, I guess he can claim it as his birthday cake.

This delicious chocolate concoction started out from a recipe from Mary Mac's Tea Room in Atlanta for a Caramel Cream Cake. It looked wonderful but I decided to take it a step further and add another layer of icing in the form of a whipped chocolate and coffee ganache. The results are really rich and wonderful. The interior of the cake has a lovely mild chocolate and caramel flavor while the outer icing gives an intense burst of dark chocolate and coffee. What a rush!

This is one of those cakes that takes a little time to make as you have 3 layers to contend with and you must let them be completely cooled before adding the frosting. It's also best to let the cake chill in the freezer or refrigerator before adding the final chocolate ganache icing. But, the multiple steps and time are well worth the effort!

Caramel Cream Cake

1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
5 tsp. strong coffee
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut parchment paper circles to fit bottoms of 3 9-inch round cake pans. Grease and flour bottoms and sides of pans.

In mixer fitted with whisk attachment beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and egg yolks and beat until incorporated. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the mixture alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Add the coffee and vanilla and beat well.

In a clean bowl and with a clean whisk, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold into batter. (Note: If you have only one bowl for your mixer, beat the egg whites first and transfer them to another bowl while you mix the batter.)

Divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes then remove from pans and allow to cool completely on wire racks. When completely cool, ice with Caramel Cream Frosting.

Caramel Cream Frosting

1 pound confectioner's sugar
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 egg yolk
8 tbs. unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs. strong coffee (liquid)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Sift together sugar and cocoa. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolk until pale on low speed. Add the butter and beat well. Add the liquids and the sugar/cocoa mixture and beat until light and fluffy.

Spread frosting between layers of cake and on top and sides. Place cake in refrigerator or freezer to chill thoroughly and allow frosting to set.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

2 cups heavy cream
16 oz. good bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. instant coffee crystals

Place chopped chocolate and coffee in large heat proof bowl.

Heat heavy cream in saucepan until it begins to simmer. Pour over chocolate and allow to sit about 10 minutes to melt the chocolate. Stir with rubber spatula and then whisk chocolate until it is smooth.

Set bowl over another bowl filled with ice water and beat chocolate with electric mixture until about the consistency of sour cream (about 3-10 minutes depending on temperature). Be sure not to over beat the chocolate. You just want it nice and spreadable but not too liquid.

Remove cake from refrigerator and place on wire rack set over baking sheet. Pour chocolate over cake and using offset spatula spread the chocolate over top and sides of cake.

Return cake to refrigerator or freezer to allow the chocolate to set up then allow cake to come to room temperature to serve.

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