So I know this picture is lame. The pictures I took of the whole cake were even worse so I'm not even going to bother posting them. I was in such a rush to get to the event that I was bringing this cake to that I didn't have time to really set up and take some pictures. And to be perfectly honest, I don't have a very good set-up for taking pictures anyway. I really need to get a better spotlight so I can take better pictures of our food for the blog. We can make that my super early New Year's Resolution. If you want to see good pictures of the cake, you should just go to Martha Stewart's website here and commence drooling immediately. For more pictures, you can go to The Bitten Word.
You might be curious why I am posting about this cake while in Hawaii. The reason is that I have been thinking about how delicious it was and couldn't wait until my return to share the love. It was delicious. When I read the name of the recipe, I assumed that the caramel itself would be salted and that the sea salt I could see sprinkled on the top of the cake was just, well, the icing on top of the (already salty) cake. The caramel had a hint of salt to it, but not as much as I had been expecting. But man, it was delicious. The cake was very moist, almost a little brownie-like in texture. And then the caramel soaked into the cake, making it even more moist and delicious. And the frosting was deeply cocoa-flavored and chocolately. I really liked that it wasn't as sweet as most frostings are because that level of sweetness totally turns me off (and actually makes my teeth hurt). But this frosting was just rich and delicious. You totally have to listen to Martha when she says to let the frosting sit for 30 minutes before frosting the cake. After we first finished making the frosting I was convinced that it was a total bust because it was more like a ganache than a frosting. I had no idea that it would set up that much in the 30 minutes (well, in our case it was more like 60 minutes) that it rested. I guess Martha Stewart really knows what she is talking about, huh? Anyway, try this cake. I am totally planning on making it again for some special occasion. It was amazing. Mine came out a little lopsided (I guess I need some more practice assembling layer cakes), but so be it. I will take amazing-tasting cake over pretty, but dry/boring cake any day!
Salted Caramel Six-Layer Chocolate Cake
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
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons safflower oil (we used vegetable oil)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Caramel
4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 cups heavy cream
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
1 pound semisweet chocolate (we used Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate chips), chopped, melted, and cooled
Garnish: flaked sea salt, such as Maldon
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.