Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chocolate Cake with Caramel

For Ben's grandparents' birthdays I made a 2-layer golden vanilla cake with caramel swirls and chocolate buttercream frosting. This is seriously the best chocolate frosting I have ever tasted (and that's saying something). It was only the 2nd time I have ever tried to make chocolate icing (gasp!) The recipe is from Southern Living and is easy to make (unless you have a stubborn 1980s hand mixer that dies every other minute). I used Hershey's chocolate cocoa which costs more than the store brand, but I think it's worth it. Southern Living also had a mint chocolate chip buttercream frosting that I wish I would have known about when I made the mint chocolate cake! I doubled the icing recipe because I my original idea was to make a 3-layer cake, however I discovered that the lid for the cake stand would not fit with 3 layers, but it was good to know that doubling the recipe makes plenty of icing for 3 cakes.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting - double this recipe
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 to 7 Tbsp. milk

1. Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

2. Whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa. Gradually add powdered sugar mixture alternately with 3 Tbsp. milk, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition. Beat in up to 4 Tbsp. additional milk for desired consistency.

I added apple-dipping caramel to the cakes after letting them bake for about 8 minutes. I added the caramel later, because I was hoping it would prevent it from sinking to the bottom, but it didn't, so the caramel taste was not as prevalent as I had hoped it would be.

Like other times before, I iced the top of the first layer, placed the second layer on top of the first and iced the top of it. I saw on Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee that she put a couple of pieces of parchment paper on the cake stand when she was icing the cake, then simply slipped it off whenever she was done. The key word here is simply. It was not so simple to pull the sheets of paper out from under the cake after I had finished icing. This could have been because I did not have parchment paper and instead used wax paper. From now on I'm going to stick with just cleaning the cake stand with a damp paper towel.

To ice the cake I tried a different technique. It's more of a wispy look. I used my large offset spatula and a spoon to make the affect. Put about 1 cup of icing on the top of the cake and spread the frosting to the edge and down the sides of the cake using a sweeping motion. You will need more than 1 cup of icing to complete this task, but it's easier to work with a smaller amount then add more.

To add a little color, I used a few strawberries. I cut them and tried to fan them out a little bit.

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