Wednesday, 20 January 2010

ICCHFC - Week 18: Salted caramel chocolate cake

Week 18 meant is was time for my baking skill to be tested for the third time. I gave the ICCHFC the choice of the finalists from the BBC Good Food magazine's Birthday Cake competition that I blogged about previously:
The vote was a two-way tie between the coffee crunch cake and the chocolate cake. As you can probably tell from the picture above, the salted caramel chocolate cake was chosen by a roll of the Dice of Destiny.

To be honest I was a little disappointed with this cake. I was expecting the caramel to be salted to offset a rich sweet chocolate cake, but looking at the recipe (see link) it was the chocolate that was salted!

The chocolate cake itself was deliciously moist and with an intensely bitter-sweet hit of rich chocolate. Unfortunately, the caramel filling wasn't thick enough. I'm not sure if it's because I didn't take the sugar far enough before adding the butter and cream. Also the ganache layer was far too thick and salty I would definitely half the quantities in future. Both of these mistakes are evident in the cross-section:
On to the recipe for my Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake which is adapted from the original i.e. this is how I'd make it next time

115g salted butter , plus extra for greasing
225g plain chocolate (70% cocoa)
150ml milk
225g light muscovado sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs , separated
150ml crème fraîche
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
For the caramel:
450g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
115g salted butter
125ml double cream
2 tbsp crème fraîche
1tsp sea salt (or to taste)
For the ganache:
112g plain chocolate (70-80% cocoa solids)
125ml double cream

1. Making the caramel. Pour 100ml water into a large saucepan. Add the sugar and golden syrup, gently cook until melted, then turn up the heat a bit and cook until the caramel is a dark golden brown colour. Swirl the pan occasionally to prevent sticking but do not stir.
2. Turn off the heat and carefully whisk in the butter, double cream and crème fraîche - it will bubble up quite high. Whisk until smooth, then leave to cool until slightly set.
Note: This can be made this up to 3 days in advance and chilled in the fridge. Gently reheat until soft enough to spread before assembling the cake.
3. Making the cake. Heat oven to 180°C. Grease an 8" springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
4. Melt the chocolate, butter and milk in a large pan over a low heat, stirring until smooth.
5. Remove from heat, then beat in the sugar and vanilla. Cool slightly.
6. Beat the egg yolks and crème fraîche together, then mix this into the chocolate mixture, followed by the flour and baking powder.
7. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir a third of the egg whites into the cake mix, then gently fold in the rest along with the sea salt.
8. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40-50 mins until firm to touch. Leave to cool for 20 mins, then remove from the tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.
9. For the ganache, heat the chocolate and cream together over a low heat until the chocolate has melted. Pour into a bowl to cool.
10. To assemble, slice the cooled cake in half horizontally. Sandwich together with the caramel - generous! Spread the ganache over the top of the cake and sprinkle with some sea salt crystals (and chocolate truffles, if you like).

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