Chocolate Cake with Whipped Caramel Ganache and Fluer de Sel

by angelika on September 20, 2011

Mr. Fabulous had a birthday. If you follow along on facebook, you may have noticed this birthday was several weeks ago already. Posting cakes is pretty time consuming, just like baking them. It’s taken me this long to get the time to actually set it all down. This cake, much like this post, is a labor of love. Here’s the thing, when you labor, and I mean really labor, you are rewarded with something magical, splendid, and divine. This cake…. is the best cake I have ever had. The very best. Now, I may be partial, as salt and caramel are my two favorite flavors, with chocolate biting at their heels. Put them all in a cake? Bliss. Pure and simple. This cake has a very moist and rich chocolate cake as the base, then each  layer is covered in a delicious salted caramel sauce. On top of that you smother a layer of whipped caramel ganache. Then… you sprinkle the whole thing with fleur de sel, the queen of all salts. mmmmmm.

Chocolate Cake with Whipped Caramel Ganache
~Sweet and Salty Cake~
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup on hydrogenated shortening
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
caramel with salt:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy creme
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/4 cup sour cream
whipped caramel ganache icing:
1 pound dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 pound (4 stick) butter cut into cubes, cool but slightly softened
This recipe come from and is a recipe from the bakery Baked in Brooklyn NY.
Preheat the oven to 375º.
Butter 3- 8 inch cake pans, then fit each with a round of parchment, then butter the top of the parchment and dust with cocoa powder.
In a bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and the hot water. When thoroughly combined, whisk in the sour cream. Set the mixture aside until it cools.
In another bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set this aside as well.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachement cream the butter and shortening until it forms strings, 7 minutes. I alway recommend using non hydrogenated shortening, I use the Spectrum brand. Add both sugars and beat another 7 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Add the vanilla and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix for another minute.Mix in the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture in three batches, starting and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Frankly, easier said that done. I only have two 8″ pans so I had to eyeball it and then bake the last cake in a second round. I never get all the cakes the same. I know my grandmother is whispering that if I used a scale instead of volume measurements I would have an easier time. I just don’t want to give in to all these bakers who insist on persion and weights. Bake the cakes until the are done. The cake will pull away from the sides and a tester will come out clean. Mine went 35 minutes.

When they are done let them cool in their pans for 5 minutes, then run a knife, or better yet a frosting spatula, around the sides. Then invert the cakes onto a plate and slide them off to cool on a wire rack. Trim the top so that you have a flat surface.
To make the caramel, heat the sugar, water and corn syrup in a saucepan on medium. Stir to combine. 

I hate using corn syrup. I know most of it is GMO, and I don’t like it as a product. I know in caramel it is used to make the caramel shiny, same with ganache. I find agave nectar works just as well and is less processed and fraught with controversy. That said, I wanted to be true to this recipe so I searched high and low for an organic corn syrup that is non GMO. After all is said and done, I think agave would have worked fine.
Bring the caramel to a boil on high heat and let it sit, untouched, until the caramel turns a golden brown and smells of caramel. This should register 350º on a candy thermometer. I find using one a little annoying so I just watch it. The caramel usually turns between 7 and 10 minutes. It goes super fast. The minute you start to see a light amber, don’t move! It’ll burn within a minute. Once you get a nice rich amber take the pot from the heat and mix in the cream. Stir constantly until you get a creamy caramel. It spits and bubbles, this is actually what you are looking for. Once the caramel is a smooth consistency, stir in the salt and the sour cream. Cool to room temperature. You can make caramel up to 3 days in advance and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Now start the whole process over again! This time, chop up all your chocolate and put it in the bottom of your mixer bowl.


Make caramel again, following the exact same procedure above, but only to the step where you stir in the cream. This time you will add 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, and omit the salt and sour cream. Once the cream is mixed in, and you have a silky caramel sauce, pour the mixture over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for one minute.
Gently stir the mixture to combine, using a wood spoon. Stir from the center out. Let the whole mixture come to room temperature.

Once the mixer is cool to the touch, start whipping. Whip in the butter, a few cubes at a time, until you have a light fluffy whipped ganache. I found this ganache absolutely delicious, and impossible to work with. So I emptied the contents into a shallow dish and refrigerated it for an hour. This cooled the butter some and made the cake a lot easier to ice. Even then, I had ganache and caramel leaking out from all sides. Luckily I like caramel and ganache, so I was okay with the hazard of having to keep licking my hand. (and then thoroughly washing the of course, this was food being handled)


Place 4 sheets of wax paper down on your cake stand. Then put down one layer. Layer on 1/4 cup of the salted caramel sauce.

Add about a cup of the whipped ganache and spread it to the sides of the layer. Place another layer on top, and cover with 1/4 cup caramel sauce and then another generous layer of ganache. Lay on the last layer and just cover this one with ganache. Take the ganache down all sides as well. If your cake is getting melty and hard to deal with, put it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. This will help the ganache set up again.

Once you have all four sides iced, put the cake in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before you want to serve it. This is especially important if you are making this on a hot day in August. Sprinkle fleur de sel over the cake just before serving. This may seem like a weird step, but it makes a huge difference. Salt and caramel are best of friends, and even thought this cake appears mostly chocolate, caramel really plays center stage.
 Being the salt lover I am, I actually came back and lightly dusted my whole piece. There was a lot of leftover whipped caramel ganache, and Little Man and I made the most amazing milkshakes by blending the ganache with ice cream. Totally over the top, but very yummy.
A votre santé!


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Chefwannabe March 4, 2012 at 10:04 pm

What can I use instead of cream cheese which I can't have? I also can't have yogurt, cottage cheese or mascarpone.


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