Some foods should come with a warning label. Not like “may contain traces of nuts” on a packet of peanuts, but useful, helpful advice like “may cause addiction” or “may induce a diabetic coma”. Making some recipes is almost like an extreme sport – a feat of skill, precision and often insanity, but for this cake, the extreme part comes with the eating.
I’ve been in Perth for the last twelve days or so – a fun trip even though I got sick for about half of it. There was however, finally, a trip to Choux Café, a gorgeous little patisserie that I’ve wanted to visit for months now. We had macarons, opera cake and an amazing caramel religieuse. We cooked at home a lot, mostly because I didn’t feel up to going out, but that was okay because I managed to perfect my chicken pie recipe, which I’m looking forward to sharing with you soon.
On my final night in Perth, we invited Steve’s ‘parental shaped people’ over for dinner, and as luck would have it, it was Bob’s birthday the next day. I decided there needed to be cake, and not just any cake, to go with the roast chicken and hasselback potatoes, made with rosemary picked fresh from the garden. Dinner was great, even if I did slice two fingers with a new, and therefore sharp (!) knife while chopping carrots. But the winner of the evening was definitely the cake.
The sinfully rich chocolate cake is paired with a caramel and milk chocolate frosting that reminded me a little of Cadbury Caramello, which is definitely a good thing, in case you were wondering. The frosting had two and a half blocks of milk chocolate, plus some dark chocolate thrown in there for good measure. But to be fair, the frosting came from a cake recipe meant to have three layers and mine only had two, so there was a lot leftover. I’d also never made caramel before but it worked out wonderfully. Every girl needs a good classic chocolate cake in her repertoire and I really liked this one (in tiny slices). It was moist and very rich on the inside. I think it would be nicely adaptable to other kinds of frosting you might decide to try.
The cake got rave reviews, especially from Bob who took most of it home with him. I’d be surprised if it lasted a day. As for a warning label, I think this cake should have “do not eat alone” – food tastes better with the people you like anyway.
Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate and Caramel Frosting
Adapted from Epicurious
Note: You may want to halve the frosting recipe if you don’t want leftovers.
• 2 cups plain flour
• 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
• 220g butter, softened
• 1 cup brown sugar, packed
• ¾ cup sugar
• 4 large eggs, room temperature
• 50g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
• 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cups buttermilk
• 650g milk chocolate, finely chopped
• 85g dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• ½ cup water
• 2 ¼ cups whipping cream
1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Line two 22cm round cake pans with baking paper.
2. To make cake, sift flour, cocoa and baking soda into a small bowl. Cream butter, brown and white sugar together with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add chocolate and vanilla and beat until just combined.
3. On low speed, add flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture until just combined. Divide evenly between prepared cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.
4. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack. Peel off baking paper and allow to cool completely.
5. To make frosting, combine milk and dark chocolate in a large bowl. Stir sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Boil without stirring until syrup is dark amber in colour, about 10 minutes. On low heat, carefully and slowly add the cream – the mixture will bubble up. Stir until any solids dissolve and the mixture is smooth.
6. Pour the caramel over the chocolate, stand for 1 minute then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Chill for 2 hours until completely cooled, and then let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
7. Using an electric mixer, beat frosting until the colour resembles milk chocolate and the frosting is spreadable. Be careful not to overbeat.
8. Place one cake layer on serving platter, flat side up. Spread frosting evenly over the top. Top with the second layer, flat side up, and spread frosting over top and sides of the cake.