recipe update: whipped caramel ganache & salted caramel topping

So… I just wanted to set things right today, after my vicious anti-caramel rant in the last post…ahem.  While the Sweet & Salty cake was a beast to put together – because everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong – I can’t blame the Baked boys.  The whipped ganache frosting and its salted caramel partner are seeeeeeeeeeeeriously good… and I can say that with authority because I’ve only just now dug in properly.  That’s right folks – I saved this behemoth for over a week (!) and it’s still decadently delicious.

So decadent that only one (moderately sized!) piece has done me in. one. that’s unheard of.  So I’m posting the recipe for the whole shebang now (seeing as its posted all over the place already), and I strongly encourage anyone who doesn’t plan to make charcoal out of the caramel or nuke the daylights out of the frosting to have a go.  You may curse me at first, but I’m guessing you’ll thank me later…


Chocolate Cake *I used the Devils food cake from Sweet Melissa instead (which you can find here), so I can’t vouch for this one!

Makes one 8-inch 3-layer cake
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cups cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line each pan with a parchment paper round, butter parchment paper and flour; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, 1 1/4 cups hot water, and sour cream; set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.
In another large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth and it appears to create strings inside the bowl, about 7 minutes. Add both sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and mix again for 30 seconds. Add flour mixture alternating with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake until cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 18 to 24 minutes. Let cool completely.

Salted Caramel

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/4 cup sour cream

Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, mix together cream and salt. Bring cream to a boil and cook until salt has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
When the caramel mixture has reached 350 degrees, remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Carefully add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Whisk in sour cream. Cool, and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.


Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache

1 pound dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened but still cool

Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
In another small saucepan add cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
When the caramel mixture has reached 350 degrees, remove from heat and allow to rest for 1 minute. Add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Let cool 5 minutes. Place chocolate in the bowl of an electric mixer and pour caramel sauce over chocolate. Let sit 1 minute before stirring from the center until chocolate is melted.
Attach bowl to electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Add butter and increase speed to medium-high until mixture is well combined, thickened, and slightly whipped, about 2 minutes.



To assemble the cake

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Using about 1/4 cup of the caramel, spread a thin layer on the cake, allowing some of the caramel to soak into the cake. Follow the caramel layer with a layer of about 1 cup of the ganache icing. *The caramel didn’t really soak in for me, so I just popped the cake + caramel layer in the freezer before topping with ganache, just so the second layer didn’t slide everywhere leaving me with a sloppy mess on my hands… Place the second layer on top and repeat process with another layer of caramel followed by a layer of ganache icing. Place the remaining layer on top of the second layer bottom side up. Spread entire cake with remaining ganache icing. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.


getting messy... and way too heavy handed with the middle layer


the finished product.. that finished me...



Filed under Uncategorized

sms: the cake from hell


This week’s SMS bake, Devils Food Cake, turned out to be a *%$£ing nightmare.  Yes folks, a big, fat, sticky, gooey, creamy, acrid, prolonged torturous nightmare.  Don’t get me wrong – Melissa’s cake itself was heavenly.  It’s a simple enough recipe yielding moist, dark chocolate layers..which, in my case, baked up a bit unevenly because I failed to scrape the bottom of the bowl as religiously as I should have.. the centres shot skyward, only to sink the minute they came out of the oven.  Thankfully, this just seemed to result in slightly denser, more level cakes though, so I wasn’t particularly worried.  Now, sticking with the suggested peanut butter frosting at this point would have saved much blood, sweat and tearful cursing.  But, having done peanut butter frosting to death before (I fell in love with a cream cheese version and refuse to stray), I decided to take this opportunity to conquer my caramel demons by making the Sweet & Salty Cake from Baked.


Known as their signature creation, it consists of chocolate cake slathered with salted caramel sauce and whipped caramel ganache frosting.  After reading a few negative reviews of the Baked cake itself, in contrast rave rants about the phenomenal frosting, I figured Melissa’s devils food cake would be the ultimate base.  Now, I’m not even a huge fan of caramel taste-wise, but making caramel is something I swore to conquer after my first two attempts went up in smoke a few months back.  literally.  Unfortunately, things got smokey this time round too.  In fact, I ended up having to make 4 – yes, 4 – batches of caramel this time..!!  As I said, the first went up in smoke. The second survived to become a luscious whipped ganache which turned into an impenetrable mass after an overnight stint in the fridge.  So clever me decided to try softening it in the microwave, and – you guessed it – pulled out a liquid mess after getting distracted for a few crucial minutes.  Devil cake 2, June 0.  Back to the Coop for more butter. and chocolate.


I finally scored a win in round 3 (which I did NOT put in the fridge), but still had to play out round 4 to make the salted caramel sauce.  The whole process took about 4 days and  I’m out a hefty load of sugar, butter and chocolate, but I finally know how to make caramel.  Unfortunately, I had planned to share this devil child with friends, but the dinner date came and went before batch 3… So at the moment, I’ve got a big fat chocolatey waste sitting in my fridge. It’s cursed, I swear.

Despite all my whinging dramatics though, I have to admit that the whipped caramel ganache is phenomenal. Paired with the salted caramel sauce and Melissa’s gorgeous chocolate layers, this is one deliciously evil cake.  I recommend you roll up your sleeves and get sugar-cooking.  You can find the cake recipe on Holly’s lovely site and check out how the other SMSers got on this week


Filed under cake, caramel, chocolate, frosting, sweet melissa sundays

SMS: making whoopie… (hahaha)

Righto, we’re on a pumpkin roll here – what with Halloween around the corner and Thanksgiving not far behind (yay! yay!) – so this week’s SMS pick was a perfect follow on to the pumpkin patch cupcakes in my last post.  Melissa might refer to these as ‘cookie cakes’, but to me they’re whoopie pies and worth the namesake shout.  Funnily enough, I only had my first pumpkin version (you get chocolate too) last month after a pilgrimmage to Baked (of ‘Sweet & Salty Cake’ fame).  This involved a mahoooossive trek to Red Hawk that left me in a slightly sour mood.. which turned very sour when I realized they only had one cake on offer…that’s just mean. But luckily, they also had pumpkin whoopies, which sweetened the deal no end.  Since then, I’ve had me a cravin’!


"What's in a name? That which we call a review.."

This recipe was super easy – notwithstanding the turmoil encountered when trying to find pumpkin puree.. in England. during the ‘Great Pumpkin Crisis of 2009’.  (See my pumpkin patch post for details.. if you really want…but it’s actually irrelevant – all is well, Waitrose saved the day).  I swapped the molasses for maple syrup, cranked up the cinnamon (always) and used my favourite cream-cheese frosting recipe in place of Melissa’s filling.   (It’s not too different, but I’ve added it below anyway).  All in all, I give these babies a 5/5 on ease and 5/5 on taste/texture combo. YUM. I’m only offering 2/5 stars on accessibility of ingredients though… I might try getting proactive about this (instead of whinging endlessly for the next month) by starting a petition for equal rights to fair-priced pumpkin puree for expats.

Bite me

Bite me

Having bought Baked and failing so far to use it (shame on me), I was hoping to manage an SM vs B-Boys bakeoff.  The recipes seem similar, although the Baked version calls for vegetable oil in place of butter, relatively more puree and sugar in relation to flour, plus ground ginger and cloves…and the cream cheese fillings are *slightly* different too. Obviously I failed to get said bakeoff on in time for this post… but my whoopie-pie love just grows and grows, so I’ll get around to it soon! very soon!  But for now I’d just like to offer Debbie a big, fat, (cream) cheesey thanks for her perfect seasonal pick! Please check out the SMS blogroll to see what the others put together! with filling… x

Pipeworthy cream-cheese frosting
4 oz. butter (relatively room temp)
8 oz. cream cheese  (take your pick – room temp or straight from the fridge.. it’s freeing, no?)
5 cups icing sugar (yes, 5. prepare for the high)

Directions: Whiz the butter and cream cheese in the food processor until combined (no big, separate lumps.. but don’t overprocess).  Add half the sugar and whizz again.  Scrape down the sides and add the rest of the sugar cup by cup (stopping to scrape down the sides) until you’re happy with the consistency.  Use at this point or pop the whole lot in the fridge for a firm-up.  (I hate it soft ‘n soupy, can you tell?)


Filed under cake, cookies, whoopie pie

MSC: Pumpkin patch cupcakes

Linus: “Tonight the Great Pumpkin will rise out of the pumpkin patch. He flies through the air and brings toys to all the children of the world. He’ll come here because I have the most sincere pumpkin patch and he respects sincerity.”
Sally Brown: “That’s a good story.”
Linus: “You don’t believe the story of the Great Pumpkin? I thought little girls always believed everything that was told to them. I thought little girls were innocent and trusting.”

note the real pumpkin prop in the background.. slightly contrived, yessss...

note the background prop.. slightly contrived, yessss... and the 'forest green' food-colouring I used turned out to be more of a sea-green in my opinion, but oh well..

Well, I haven’t taken a bite yet, but I’m trusting that these are going to be phenomenal. Firstly, they’re cream-cheese frosted, which always spells ‘winner’.  Secondly, the cakes themselves smell fantastic, rose to a perfect dome and look deliciously moist.  But just looking gets harder and harder… I baked these up to take over to a friend’s house this evening (that way, I can only eat as many as I can stuff my face with in one go), but unfortunately she’s going through a rough time, so I’ve put ’em on ice for now.  Literally.  Which is why I’ve got less than a patch at the moment…
But it’s a sincere patch! You don’t get much more sincere than cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  And although I thought the marzipan pumpkins would be a nightmare to make (especially as I don’t have a leaf cutter.. clearly..) it was actually an easy task and I’ve come away inspired to skill up on the ol’ sugarcraft.. and to revisit the fun of play dough.

obviously, I had no leaf cutter and had to play it free style

obviously, I had no leaf cutter and had to play it free style

Somehow, living overseas for most of my life, I’ve developed a passion obsession for any and every tacky holiday tradition – the kitscher (read: tackier), the better.  So this was a perfect pick to kick start the halloween season.  The cupcakes were simple enough to put together, but I had trouble – as usual – getting my hands on pumpkin puree over here.  I made my annual pitstop at Selfridges (the only source of Libby’s 100% I’ve come across in London – as obscenely priced as it is) only to be told that they wouldn’t be receiving the shipment for another few weeks.  Eventually, I overcame the horror and resigned myself to missing out on this one.  (No time for DIY pumpkin puree).
Luckily, and despite having no faith whatsoever, I asked at my local (giant) Waitrose where – lo and behold – the fantastic saleswoman produced the (non-Libby’s) goods after a lengthy search.
Right, er, that’s my long-winded way of giving this bake a 2/5 for availability of ingredients (when living overseas and trying to survive the ‘great pumpkin crisis’ of 2009, apparently) and a 5/5 for simplicity. I can’t comment YET on taste or texture combo.. but I’m predicting high scores.  Big thanks to ‘What the Whisk’ Kim for this perfect seasonal pick, and please check out the other patches here.


Filed under cupcakes, holidays, martha stewart cupcakes

SMS: shame

Right. well.  I admit it, I didn’t get around to this week’s scrummy-sounding sticky buns.  Bad June, Bad!
Life keeps getting in the way these days, so much so that  I’ve lost track of what I’m juggling… making a to-do list is on my to-do list.  So instead of gloriously sweet, syrup-soaked buns of morning glory, I’m making do with pictures from my trip to NYC a few weeks ago – which involved MUCH joyous burrito munching and a pilgrimage to the Sweet Melissa Bakery (and to Baked… and Crumbs… and Babycakes… and Billy’s… and Junior’s…)


cue drool

chocolatey peanut-butter heaven

chocolatey peanut-butter heaven

my beautiful mum, who stuck with a pot of tea. willpower of steel.

my beautiful mum, who stuck with a pot of tea. willpower of steel.

unspeakably good. so good I bought a second. blessed takeaway, I love the states..

unspeakably good. so good I bought a second. blessed takeaway, I love the states..

me and the goods

me and the goods

Rachel's veggie burritos. this is what I travel 3500 miles for.

Rachel's veggie burritos. this is what I travel 3500 miles for.


IT'S THE SIZE OF MY HEAD! life doesn't get better than this

but then.. it does

but then.. it does

Big sorry to Jen of oot Microwave Safe for missing out on her brilliant pick, but have a look at what the rest of the (well organized, competent, successful) SMS group made of this one!!  Looking forward to getting my act together for next week’s treat x


Filed under Uncategorized

SMS: Apple Orchard Pecan Crumble

I’m back!! and baking! once again, this’ll be a quickie because I’ve got to battle massive jet lag tomorrow morning and get up early for the first day of my new placement.. I’m feeling the pain already…

I flew back and managed to throw this week’s SMS pick together last night before our houseguest arrived today – and I’m SO happy we’ve got an extra taster because I reeeeeeally overdid myself on holiday, so from now on I’ve GOT to  size down.  Er, after the crumble.. which is yummy, by the way..  so yummy that I’m on my third helping… and the worst part is, I know it’ll make me feel ill, but it’s just toooooo good.. It’s autumn  with a side of double cream, how could anyone resist??!

IMG_1638I chose to assemble the recipe yesterday and freeze it, as Melissa suggests, so I could pop it in the oven today after the chelsea game. it was a good call, go me. and go chelsea – we won, woohoo!!!  I used granny smiths because that’s all my local had, and I’m glad I did – any sweeter and I would’ve had to stick with one portion.. (if only).  In fact, I even cut down on the sugar by adding only 2/3 cup to the apples, rather than 1 whole cup, and I might go even stingier next time.  I might also cut down on the baking time because I think a bit more bite to the apples would be nice.. You can see the prebaked, frozen crumble above.. but I promise I’ll try to post another finished photo tomorrow, if I can  restrain myself from eating the last portion tonight.. (cross your fingers)

Big thanks to Cristine for choosing such a great fall intro & don’t forget to check out the blogroll to see what the other SMSers made of this one xx


Filed under Uncategorized

Carny life – a post from the road

This is gonna be a short one, so apologies in advance!  I’m on holiday in the States at the moment – on holiday from work and baking… but I just wanted to get my Cookie Carnival post up in time for the round-up.  Luckily, I managed to make this month’s pick – Black Bottom Coconut Bars – before I left as a parting gift for my supervisor and team members.  My 6-month placement in the rehab service went by far too quickly and everyone was so welcoming that homebaked goodies seemed the only way of saying thanks.


The recipe came courtesy of Lady Martha (yep, she’s been cropping up on this blog quite a lot recently..) and it turned out to be a surprisingly  simple one.  Basically, a thin brownie layer is baked until just firm around the edges,  then it’s topped with a more generous coconut layer (coconut mixed with the usual suspects – eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla – although I added coconut extract too).  As you can see from the pics, I may have overbaked things a teensy bit, but let’s pretend I was going for a ‘toasted coconut’ look.


I have to admit that I ended up giving the whole batch away so I can’t really comment on what these bars tasted like, but they looked great dressed up in cupcake cases and a paperchase gift box.  Plus, the they got rave reviews from my team members.  Having said that though, I might double the brownie layer if I make these again because it looked pretty thin and I like me a thick gooey mouthful of brownie. even if that overpowers the coconut a bit…  Big big thanks to the Carnival’s lovely hostess Kate, of the clean plate club, for letting me bake along!!  And please check out  the round up to see how the other carnival goers made out this month xx  See you once I get back (about 20 lbs. heavier after munching my way across New England..!)  xx


Filed under bars, brownies, cookie carnival, cookies, Uncategorized