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Chocolate & Salted Caramel Cake

Chocolate cake

  • 8 ounces unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp coffee extract optional
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk plain yogurt
  • 1 cup hot water


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Salted caramel buttercream

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • about 1 cup of caramel

Dark chocolate ganache

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate chopped fine

For chocolate cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease three 8" cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

3. In a liquid measuring cup, combine yogurt and extracts. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and fluffy. Add brown sugar and beat until thoroughly combined.

5. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula as needed. Turn speed to medium and whip until voluminous and fluffy; about 5 minutes.

6. Add about 1/3 of dry ingredients to the bowl and mix lightly. Pour in about 1/2 of yogurt mix and blend gently. Continue alternating wet and dry ingredients until all the flour is just mixed in.

7. Carefully, slowly, pour in hot water until mixture is just combined.

8. Divide batter evenly amongst prepared pans and bake until center of cake springs back when touched, about 35-40 minutes.

9. Place on cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

For caramel:

1. Place sugar in a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan. Add just enough water to hydrate sugar. Cook on medium without stirring until sugar turns a very dark amber color.

2. Begin whisking gently to evenly distribute caramel color. Remove from heat.

3. Carefully add cream (mixture will foam, steam, and spit - be mindful!), whisking gently as you combine.

4. Stir in butter and salt.

5. Pour through a sifter or strainer and allow to cool.

For the buttercream:

1. Fill a sturdy pot with an inch or two of water and bring to a light simmer. Place bowl of stand mixer on top of this "double boiler" and add egg whites and sugar. Cook until sugar dissolves and mixture is quite warm to the touch (about 140 F), whisking frequently.

2. Place mixer bowl back on stand mixer and attach whisk attachment. Whip until mixture has cooled significantly and holds stiff peaks.

3. With mixer on medium-low, begin adding soft butter, about a tablespoon at a time. Once all butter is in, continue to beat until thoroughly incorporated and fluffy. Add vanilla.

4. To make salted caramel buttercream, combine your caramel sauce into buttercream to your desired taste and color. I used about one cup of my caramel sauce.

To assemble:

1. Remove cakes from pans and take off the bottom parchment. If needed, slice any mounding off tops of cakes to make flat. 

2. Place first layer of cake on a plate. Spread a very thin layer of caramel on top (about 2 tbsp), pressing in gently with spatula.

3. Scoop about 1 cup of caramel buttercream on top of that; spread evenly to within about 1/4" of edge of cake.

4. Top with second cake layer and repeat with caramel and caramel buttercream. Place last layer on top; press gently to adhere.

5. Apply a thin layer of buttercream on tops and sides of cake. Use a bench scraper or offset spatula to smooth.

6. Chill for at least 20 minutes. You may want to apply a second thin layer over this (if you have a little buttercream left). Or, leave it with more of the "naked" look if you like.

For ganache:

1. Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.

2. Heat cream in a saucepan until just beginning to bubble on the sides. Pour hot cream over chocolate. Allow to sit about 30 seconds, then whisk together until emulsified.

3. Pour over top of finished cake, starting in the middle and working out to the sides. Allow a bit of ganache to drip off sides of cake. Tilting the cake slowly from side to side will help.

Cake will be fine at room temperature for a day or two, or refrigerate and eat within 5 days.

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