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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH FLEUR de SEL CARAMEL FILLING!

Monday, April 2, 2012

CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH FLEUR de SEL CARAMEL FILLING!

   There's chocolate cake—and then there's this chocolate cake. Four layers of cake. Chocolate ganache. Salted caramel. Toasted almonds. It's a decadent combination that has become a big seller at Santa Monica's Vanilla Bake Shop—and a new favorite for weddings.



Ingredients

CARAMEL FILLING

  • 1cupsugar
  • 1/4cupwater
  • 2tablespoonslight corn syrup
  • 1/2cupheavy whipping cream
  • 1/4cup(1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4cupcrème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1/2teaspoonfresh lemon juice
  • Large pinch of fine fleur de sel* plus additional for assembly

GANACHE FILLING AND FROSTING

  • 1 1/2poundsbittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3cupsheavy whipping cream

CAKE

  • 2cupssugar
  • 1 3/4cupsall purpose flour
  • 3/4cupunsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2teaspoonsbaking powder
  • 1 1/2teaspoonsbaking soda
  • 1teaspoonsalt
  • 1cupwhole milk
  • 2large eggs
  • 1/2cup(1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1cuphot water
  • 1tablespooninstant espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 1 1/4cupsalmonds, toasted, coarsely chopped

Preparation

CARAMEL FILLING

  • Stir sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in deep medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; cover pan and cook 4 minutes. Uncover; increase heat to high. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, occasionally brushing down pan sides with wet pastry brush, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Whisk in butter, then crème fraîche, lemon juice, and pinch of fleur de sel. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

GANACHE FILLING AND FROSTING

  • Place chocolate in large bowl. Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate; let soften 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate is smooth. Cool, then cover and chill overnight. DO AHEAD Ganache can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.

CAKE

  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each with parchment paper; butter paper and dust pan with flour.
  • Sift sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Add milk, eggs, and melted butter. Using electric mixer, beat at low speed until blended. Increase speed and beat 2 minutes. Stir 1 cup hot water and espresso powder in small bowl to dissolve. Add to batter; beat until blended (batter will be thin). Divide batter between pans (about 3 cups each).
  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 32 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Cut around cakes; turn out onto racks. Peel off parchment and cool completely.
  • Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 layer on platter; spread with 1/2 cup room-temperature ganache. Spoon 3/4 cup ganache into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch plain round tip. Pipe ring of ganache around edge of layer. Spread 1/4 cup room-temperature caramel filling evenly inside ring. Sprinkle caramel with large pinch of fleur de sel, then 1 tablespoon almonds. Top with second cake layer, ganache, ganache ring, caramel filling, fleur de sel, and almonds. Repeat with third cake layer. Top with fourth cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining ganache over top and sides of cake. Press remaining almonds onto sides. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour.
  • *A type of sea salt; available at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.



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