Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake and Happy Birthday, Wes!

As I mentioned in my FYI Friday post, last Monday was Wes' birthday.  He's now not only older than me (well he always is) but now he's closer to 40 than he is 30.  That one hurts.  Not as much as I bet the big 4-0 will though!

I have a coworker who's birthday falls 2 days before his and I almost always bake her cake as well.  Year after year, Wes says he doesn't want me to make him a cake because I had to make hers, blah, blah, blah.  But who can have a birthday without cake?  That's sacrilegious!  So I donned my Betty Crocker apron and whipped up 2 cakes in 1 day.  That's how the big dogs do it.  I guess I'm officially a big dog.


I went with the old standby, one of our family favorites, a Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake.  I've made this about a half dozen times and each time it tastes slightly different than the last.  The key is all in the caramel.  You have to let it cook until you think it's reached the point of no return.  If you think it's burning, that's ok.  You're probably just reaching the finish line.  I've made it in the past when I didn't cook the caramel long enough and the icing lacked flavor.  Just seconds before the burning point, when it's deep golden brown, that's where it's at.

A terribly fuzzy picture of the birthday boy, but who could write a birthday post without so much as a blurry shot of the birthday boy himself?! 

Without further ado, the cake of all cakes, the lick-the-plate-clean-if-you're-a-2-or-5-year old, the cake that will add 5 pounds to your waistline and you won't care, the...

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake


For the cake:
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

For the caramel:
4 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, kosher or sea

For the salted caramel icing:
1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
8 ounces or 1 package of reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
2-3  cups powdered sugar
1 cup salted caramel


For the cake:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer two minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.
For the caramel:

1. Combine the water and sugar in a deep saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the sugar is incorporated. Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.

2. After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Do not stir from this point on, but it is important to carefully shake the pan so that one area of the caramel doesn’t burn. Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.

3. Carefully and slowly pour the heavy cream into the mixture. The mixture will bubble up significantly. Stir the mixture and add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.

4. Measure 1 cup into a Pyrex measuring cup. Stirring occasionally, allow to cool until thick like molasses and warm to the touch, about 20 minutes. This recipes makes slightly more than 1 cup of caramel. You can reserve the rest for drizzling, like I did if you wish, or just eat it with a spatula!

For the caramel icing:

1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.

2. Sift 1-2 cups of powdered sugar into the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat to combine. Add 1 cup of the salted caramel and beat to combine. Sift remaining powder sugar, in 1/2 cup increments and beating between each, until you arrive at the thickness and sweetness you desire. I used somewhere between 2-3 cups. 

3.  Frost in between the layers and all over the top and sides.

Store at room temperature for optimal freshness.  When you store cakes in the refrigerator, they dry out.  This cake will still taste delicious, the cake part just won't be as moist.

And for a little extra birthday bonus, some good old rough-housing with 2 of his favorite monsters!

**Linking up to What's Cookin Wednesday.



  1. What? No mustard & dorito sandwich? Happy birthday, Wes!

  2. Oh my goodness- I love chocolate and salted caramel! Just pinned this, thanks for sharing!