Sweet & Salty: Salted Caramel Chocolate Fudge Cake

Sweet & Salty Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

 

I’m starting to notice that I have become a wee bit of a chocolate enthusiast these days: dark chocolate, extra-dark chocolate, and sometimes even-more-than-one-kind-at-a-time chocolate. I know that sounds like a stating of the obvious, but, in the big scheme of things, that’s a new thing for me. I have always been a vanilla, or even white-of-any-kind dessert girl, and would never think to eat chocolate anything, if there was a vanilla, or the like, option. A cake girl, though, well that I’ve been since birth, so, of course, vanilla cake with vanilla icing was always on the top of my list.

But I remember things like white cheesecake (never chocolate), carrot cake, lemon & poppy seed cake, apple cake with fresh whipped cream, crepes, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, strawberry pie, sugar cookies, shortbread, bread pudding, cruller and even white powdered donuts (I know, I know . . . but I was a kid, and it’s an obligatory Canadian thing to have a favourite donut or two) etc., were all alone up there on my dessert-love list. (I suppose being among a dozen others isn’t exactly “alone,” but looking back, I suspect they were all lonely without their future friend “chocolate.”)

I still love and appreciate all of those sweets, but chocolate has really taken on an entirely new role and appeal in my life, and I think about it–a lot. Maybe the problem was, as a kid, that I was turning to the wrong chocolate desserts, or is it perhaps an appreciation that grows with age? Hormones? Post-baby? Has this happened to anyone else?

Sweet & Salty Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

I’ve also found that straight chocolate-on-chocolate dessert just doesn’t seem to excite me as much as one would think, considering my recent love and adoration for it, but I find myself needing to pair it with other flavours to truly appreciate it. Ironically, I often find that I opt for the deepest, darkest chocolate cake paired with vanilla Swiss buttercream–I love the contrast, and a part of me will always need to incorporate vanilla into a dessert somehow or another. In this case, though, the contrast of sweet and salty and chocolate & caramel is what I’m passionate about: 3 layers of dark fudge cake filled with salted caramel Swiss buttercream and frosted with dark fudge frosting and sprinkled with more Fleur de Sel.

This cake is extremely chocolaty, with billowy salted caramel buttercream, and very fudgy frosting–so for the truest of chocolate lovers, and very decadent. The day after I made this, I made a larger version to take with me to the cottage, but I decided to make a Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and actually just added the actual fudge frosting to some vanilla Swiss buttercream I had made, to create an even lighter, satiny, and less fudge-like consistency and taste ( I wish I had a photo, but it was quickly enjoyed!). It was still very full in chocolate flavour, but it was the same consistency as the caramel buttercream inside. I found it was a nice variation on this super-chocolatey combination.

You could try it either way (you don’t have to actually make the fudge frosting to add to/make the chocolate Swiss buttercream, but rather just melted chocolate will do–I’ve included the recipe below), and both are delicious. The only thing I would change next time I make it with the fudge frosting is that I would make my layers of salted caramel buttercream filling much thicker, and I might even add more caramel to the buttercream for a stronger caramel flavour. As with any recipe or cake/filling combination, experimenting is key!

Sweet & Salty Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

I have to admit that when I made the Dark Chocolate Fudge Frosting for this little cake, it was the first time I made it, so I somehow used a bit less boiling water than I needed to when mixing with the cocoa powder, so the frosting in the photo doesn’t look as gloriously shiny as it did when I did it the second time and added the correct amount of water to the cocoa. It’s such a gorgeous, intensely chocolate, and full-of-sheen frosting that would be incredible on pretty much anything. I particularly love it sprinkled with the Fleur de Sel.

For those of you who aren’t big sea salt users or lovers, you may want to make an exception for this glorious and special sea salt. Fleur de Sel is a gourmet salt hand-harvested, typically in France (and translates to “flower of salt”), that, albeit pricey, adds a perfect balance of salty (yet not too salty) flavour and a flaky, moist-yet-crunchy, and sprinkle-like texture. It can be a delicious and lovely touch to both sweet and savoury dishes. To calculate and compare the cost per pound to table salt may be a painful thought, but luckily you only need the tiniest bit for impact. You can find smaller packages of it at most gourmet shops or online for under $10, and it would last you quite some time, unless you develop a serious sweet & salty addiction, but I would know nothing about that . . .

Because it seems to be best appreciated in its natural form and texture, you could use regular sea salt when the salt will be dissolved and mixed into a recipe, such as the salted caramel buttercream. You can then save the Fleur de Sel for sprinkling over top of any other yumminess you decide to sprinkle it upon!). There is definitely some debate among foodies/chefs as to if using the Fleur de Sel, dissolved or not, within the recipe will always yield the best result, so feel free to give it a whirl and decide for yourself.  I used all Fleur de Sel, even in the caramel, but next time I will save it for just sprinkling and try the rest of the recipe using a good sea salt to compare.

Here’s the recipe for all of the cake’s components, but don’t be afraid to even use them separately, and paired with your other favourite frosting/filling/cake recipes. Experiment, experiment, experiment! For this cake, you will fill with the Salted Caramel Buttercream, but there are two options for the outside frosting of this cake: 1. Dark Chocolate Fudge Frosting (as shown) OR 2. Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. You’ll notice that the method for the caramel buttercream is a little different than our usual Swiss meringue buttercream method, because I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart who actually whips the butter first for caramel buttercream and then adds it in slowly, as opposed to the chunks of butter. You can also simply add a cooled caramel sauce as the last step of your typical Swiss meringue buttercream recipe. I was curious to see if there was a difference, and although I can’t pinpoint the difference exactly, it was definitely a heavenly version–as fluffy as can be.

The recipe is for a 6-inch round 3-layer cake (but note that in the photo I made a 5″ round cake with 4 thin layers). It does look like a ton of work, but I promise, it’s really not so bad, and it’s worth it! Here are the recipes:

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fudge Cake          {click to print}

Yield: One 6-inch, 3-layer cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Yield: Three 6-inch round layers

Serves: 8+

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (180 g/6 oz) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups (300 g/ 10 oz) sugar

3/4 cup (90 g/3 oz) dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark)

1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL/6 g) baking soda

1 teaspoon (5 mL/4 g) baking powder

1 teaspoon (5 mL/5 g) salt

1/4 cup (60 mL/2 liquid oz) vegetable oil

3/4 cup (190 mL/6 liquid oz) buttermilk

3/4 cup (190 mL/6 liquid oz) hot brewed coffee

2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Prepare three 6-inch round cake pans with butter, parchment paper rounds and cocoa powder. Tap out excess.

2. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients and add all remaining ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and with paddle attachment on mixer, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer) and pour into prepared pans. If possible, use a digital kitchen scale and weigh divided batter in pans for even layers. Batter will be liquidy.

3. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes clean–approximately 30 minutes. Try not to over bake.

4. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes, then loosen edges with a small palette knife and gently invert onto racks until completely cool.

Salted Caramel Swiss Buttercream (for filling)

Yield: ~4 cups

Ingredients

1 cup (200 g/7 oz) sugar

1/4 cup (60 mL) water

1/4 cup (60 mL) heavy cream

generous pinch of sea salt (and additional sea salt, preferably Fleur de Sel, for sprinkling), for example: Fleur de Sel De Guerande- French Sea Salt ; 6oz

1 1/2 cups (340 g/12 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 large egg whites (120 g/4 oz)

1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract

Method

The first step is making the salted caramel (you can also do a non-salted caramel by omitting the sea salt), to set aside to cool while you make the Swiss Buttercream. You then add the cooled caramel sauce it to the buttercream as the very last step. I haven’t tried buying ready-made gourmet caramel sauce and adding it, but I suspect it would taste nothing short of awesome.

1. Place 130 grams (5 ounces or 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) of the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan to a boil over medium heat. Brush down the sides of the pot with a dampened pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Stop stirring and cook until caramel is dark amber, gently swirling from time to time. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, whisking by hand until smooth. It will be splatter, so be careful. Whisk in sea salt and vanilla. Let cool.

2. Place butter in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (flat beater) and beat on medium speed (I use #4 on my mixer), until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

3. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer clean with lemon juice, and place egg whites and remaining sugar into bowl over a pot of simmering water (not boiling–you don’t want to cook the eggs). Whisk occasionally and gently until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160° on a candy thermometer.

4. Remove the bowl from heat, and place back onto the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form (about 5-6 minutes). Once the bottom of the bowl is neutral and no longer warm to the touch, reduce speed to medium-low, and add beaten butter, one cup at a time, whisking well after each addition.

5. Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add cooled caramel, and beat until smooth (about 3-5 minutes).

6. Prepare to taste the most incredible buttercream you will ever encounter.

*Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Caramel Buttercream

Dark Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Yield: ~5 cups

Ingredients

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (45 g/1.5 oz) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark)

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (90 mL/3 oz) boiling water

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks/341 g/12 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (63 g/2 oz) confectioners’ (icing/powdered) sugar

pinch of salt

1 pound (454 g/16 oz) good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Method

1. Combine cocoa powder and the boiling water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, and stir until it cocoa has dissolved.

2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (flat beater), beat the butter, the icing sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until it is pale and fluffy–about 5 minutes.

3. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add melted chocolate (cooled), beating until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

4. Beat in the cocoa mixture until well incorporated.

Notes:

1. Frosting can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 1 month in an airtight container.

2. Before using, bring to room temperature (usually overnight on counter does the trick), and beat on low speed until smooth.

*Dark Chocolate Fudge Frosting Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

*Alternatively, for a lighter, less dense and fluffier chocolate frosting option for this cake, you can use Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream to mask and frost the outside of this cake. The colour will be a lighter chocolate colour and much more subtle chocolate flavour (less fudgy), and it goes very well with the caramel buttercream filling. If you are opting for this buttercream in place of the Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake, then you can make it easier by making a double batch of the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream and simply divide, then add your caramel sauce to the first half, and your melted chocolate to the second half.  

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yield: ~5 cups

Ingredients

300 grams (10 oz) chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted, and cooled

5 large, fresh egg whites (150 g/5 oz)

1 1/4 cups (250 g/9 oz) sugar

3/4 lb (3 sticks/340 g/12 oz) butter, cut into cubes and cool, but not cold

2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract)

pinch of salt

Method

1. Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl over pot of simmering water, or in a microwave-safe bowl in 25 second intervals, stirring in between until smooth. Set aside to cool (you can scrape it out into a new container to speed up cooling).

2. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease.

3. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 150°F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

4. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don’t begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.

5. Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together.

6. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

7. Add melted chocolate and mix on medium-low speed until combined.

Assembly of the Sweet & Salty Cake

1. Trim any doming from the tops of your cake layers with a sharp, serrated knife and place first layer, face up, on your cake board, pedestal, or plate.

2. Using a small offset palette knife, spread approximately 3/4 cup of the caramel buttercream evenly on the top.

3. Repeat this 1-2 until you come to the final layer, which you will place face down on the top of the cake.

4. Place cake on a turntable (if possible), and using a small offset palette knife for the top of the cake, and medium straight palette knife for the sides, cover the cake in a thin layer of chocolate frosting (or chocolate buttercream, if using) to mask (seal in crumbs). Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or more). *This does not need to be perfect, as that will come with the top “coat” of buttercream.

5. Repeat step 4, and, for best results, use bench scraper held at 90° against the side of the cake, slowly turning the turntable and keeping your hand steady–let the turntable do the work. Clean up edges with your small offset palette knife.

6. Chill cake to set. *Bring to room temperature before serving–about 2+ hours. Never serve Swiss Meringue Buttercream until it is soft and room temperature, as cold buttercream is, well, kind of yucky!

7. Sprinkle with Fleur de Sel.

8. Place any remaining buttercream/frosting in airtight containers and refrigerate up to a week, or freeze for up to 2 months, bringing back to room temperature before rewhipping to smooth consistency.

9. Serve at room temperature, and slice with a long, thin-bladed, sharp knife. Rinse knife with hot water and dry before each new slice, for best results.

As I included in my last post (Six-Layer Dark Chocolate & Strawberry Buttercream Cake), here are a few tips for baking your best cakes, and some of my favourite baking tools:

A Few More Steps to Baking/Making Better Cakes

1. I always use a kitchen scale to weigh my ingredients. They’re small, light, and don’t have to be fancy or expensive; here is what I use: Salter 1020 Aquatronic Electronic Kitchen Scale. It’s just a great habit to get into. You wouldn’t believe the difference in what one person may scoop as a cup of flour, versus another, and weighing it to the exact gram/oz is your safest bet. Having too much flour can sure dry out a cake in a hurry, just as too little will throw it off kilter. I really believe that using a scale is one of the habits that made me a much better baker, and definitely more consistent. Trust me! I even use mine to weigh my coffee grinds for a perfect pot, my serving portions (when I’m eating clean), homemade burgers, and when dividing batches of pizza dough, etc.

2. You may notice that I bake “layer by layer,” so rather than baking a higher cake and slicing layers for a standard 3-layer cake, I bake 3 more shallow layers in 2″ high pans. This way, the cakes seem to come out more moist, with no “doming,” and ready to be frosted. It may seem an inconvenience at first, because you have to buy 3 cake pans in each diameter, but you get used to it quickly, and it’s so worth it. You also save the time trying to slice even layers, unless of course you are turning 3 layers into 6. But, then again, that’s worth it too!

3. Never open the oven before 20 minutes, or you could disrupt the baking process. Always wait 20 minutes, and then, if you’re baking 3 cake layers at a time, rotate the pans and then continue baking.

4. There are a few tools that I mention in almost every post, and since I’ve been receiving many emails asking more about the cake baking/decorating essentials, I thought I would take this chance to create a list of some of my favourite things in the kitchen, and things that I believe really make a difference:

Good luck & enjoy!

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Comments

  1. Mary Sanavia says

    Delicious! this is one of my favorite combinations. When making caramel, you can also avoid sugar crystals from forming by placing a lid on the saucepan when the water and sugar come to a boil for a few minutes (2-3). Then remove the lid and proceed as usual. That will dissolve them and no brushes required!. Beautiful pictures.

  2. says

    My God, this sounds truely fantastic! The only thing is, I feel as if I would weigh a million pounds if I ever took a bite of these decadent cakes, haha. But I guess it’s worth it just to eat a slice of heaven. :)

  3. says

    I’ve been wanting to make a cake just like this for a while but haven’t gotten around to choosing the recipes to make all the components. You just did it for me! This is gorgeous and I can’t wait to try it.

  4. Caroline says

    Wow..that is simply glorious !! Just a question – How do you make sure cakes aren’t domed when they come out the oven? Mine ALWAYS have shape and I dont particularly want to lose half the cake trying to make it flat :/

    ps/ I really need to make this.. ;)

    • says

      Thanks, Caroline! To be honest, if you bake layer-by-layer, you will likely never have to worry about doming again. Once I started doing it this way, I don’t think I’ve had one cake dome. It also keeps the cake layers really moist, because the edges don’t need to keep baking while a deeper center bakes and bakes. Good luck!

  5. says

    Rosie…now I HAVE to bake! AGAIN! After seeing this post, I got all excited because I really want you to try my very talented friend, and “Queen of the Kitchen”, Janice Atienza’s artisan truffles! Her salted caramel truffle it TO DIE FOR! As I’m sure this cake is too! <3 LOVE everything you do!

  6. Audrey says

    Oh my goodness, this cake is simply to die for!! I have been craving salted caramel chocolates lately, so this is perfect, must try this immediately! I have always been a total chocoholic, would choose chocolate anything over vanilla, but my tastes definitely changed post-baby. I used to love dark chocolate best, but now I lean toward milk chocolate. My favourite is a plain milk chocolate bar from Purdy’s Chocolates (I’m in B.C., so not sure if there is Purdy’s in eastern Canada). Lately though I have really come to appreciate vanilla too, probably due to your fantastic cake recipes :)). Love baking with vanilla beans. I just bought some pink himalayan salt, could you use this in place of the sea salt?

    Thanks Rosie, another spectacular post, they just get better and better!

  7. says

    This cake is freaking amazing! You are one insanely talented woman! I’m like you, I can’t just have chocolate on chocolate. I need something else to grab my attention and mix it up. Wicked cake girl. I need to try this soon. Very, very, soon. Besides, my half birthday is coming up.

  8. says

    I’ve been behind in reading blogs and I know I have missed more of yours that I have yet to catch up on. This cake certainly is a delicious way to start back. It’s beautiful, decadent and irresistible. Oh my, how I’ve missed you:)

  9. says

    I agree, I love chocolate, deep, rich dark chocolate, from the bottom of my heart. But chocolate cake AND chocolate frosting just doesn’t always do it. One of them being chocolate, and the other non chocolate is usually a better flavor quencher. The combo of the salty, caramel, chocolate. I am going INSANE. Good grief, this looks UNREAL!!!!!!

  10. Tina says

    WOWWWWWW – this looks/sounds amazing!!! Is re-hab included for the addiction that I’m about to develop?

  11. says

    I love your cakes!! I have been making every cake post you put up since June and I cannot tell you how much fun I am having. Although I have limited myself to only one small slice per cake and increased my visits to the gym! I will look forward to attacking this masterpeice on the weekend….oh and my husband and daughter love you!Thank you for sharing your wonderful baking.

  12. says

    Thank you so much for these lovely cake posts. I seem to always be disappointed with the cakes I bake and I’ve been baking for years. My next shot at baking one will not happen until after I’ve had a thorough read of your tips. And your photography is delicious as well. I look forward to your posts!

  13. says

    @Mary Sanavia: Thanks for the caramel tip!

    @Caroline: For me, bake-even strips help, you can get those from Wilton. Like Rosie I also bake short layers separately rather than split the cake, it helps to minimize the doming. I also avoid non-stick bakeware.

    @Rosie: Just what I wanted, chocolate cake with some twist. Am going to make this for my birthday soon. Why do you cream the butter for the caramel SMBC first? Normally I just add small cubes of softened butter after the meringue is done.

    • says

      You know, I would normally never do that, as I do the same way you do, which is typical. The thing is, when I read Martha Stewart’s method, seemingly only for caramel buttercream, I couldn’t resist giving it a shot. Although SMBC is always incredibly fluffy, I found it exceptional this way with the caramel beaten in. So, so light. Heaven, really. Next time I will do a vanilla cake smothered in it, I think. :)

      • says

        We are kindred spirits. :) I just made vanilla cupcakes with salted caramel SMB last week, and they were heavenly! I need to work on the caramel/buttercream ratio, though. My frosting tasted great, but didn’t hold its shape as well as my SMB usually does. Maybe I’ll give Martha’s recipe a try. Love your cakes! xo

  14. Liz N says

    Rosie, I wish I had seen this post before I attempted the rainbow cake! Thanks to your tutorial, Swiss Meringue Buttercream, is my favorite frosting to make. Thank you for the step-by-step photos because I would’ve certainly dumped my runny meringue if you hadn’t taken those photos of the buttercream at different stages! I can’t wait to try this chocolate buttercream next. SMBC is no longer such a scary thing to make!

  15. Mary says

    Looks DELICIOUS!!!! Ellice and I are looking at this with mouths watering…can you send it over please?? (she says you need to make her cakes everyday when she and Damian travel over in 2012…she is a true chocolate enthusiast) I CANNOT wait to taste your creations when I return…cake please! xo

  16. sweetmini says

    This cake looked so good and perfect for my sister in law’s birthday this weekend that I went home last night and started baking! I have made the cakes and the Chocolate Fudge frosting so far- I fear I have done something wrong to the frosting though. It had the consitancy of melted chocolate when I put it in the fridge last night, this morning it is solidified as melted chocolate would be cold. Maybe my butter was too soft? Or I didn’t use enough sugar? If I let it warm up a bit and beat it on low- do you think I have a chance to save it? Beautiful photography!!! Thank you!

    • says

      First off, thank you for the kind words! Secondly, hmm, let’s see if we can figure this out. Did you make any intentional changes to the recipe? If not, it’s definitely possible that something was missing by error, but I’m wondering if maybe you added the melted chocolate while it was still too warm, and it melted the butter, which would then be loose and shiny, like straight melted chocolate. I would definitely attempt beating it on low or medium low at room temperature–that often works, and this kind of frosting isn’t typically that touchy (provided all of the ingredients were included). Hope this helps, and good luck!

      • sweetmini says

        Thank you so much for your response! The frosting once it came to temperature was wonderful to work with. No beating needed! I do think the chocolate was too warm as well as the butter too warm. Thank you so much for your help and this beautiful blog- so inspiring!

  17. says

    I think I have to make this ASAP! I love salted caramel (at my last job working as a pastry chef we had an amazing salted caramel trio dessert) and I’m always interested in new ways to use it. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of salted caramel buttercream! Totally brilliant.

  18. says

    This cake looks phenomenal! I love the sweet and salty contrast and I definitely think the work would be well worth it in the end =)

  19. Alexandra says

    Hi Rosie,

    I tried making your tripple layer lemon blueberry cake this past weekend. I couldn’t help myself and made it six layers instead of three. It tasted fabulous (so thank you!) but there was one minor problem. . . . as I stacked the laters, the frosting oozed out of the sides of the cake. How do you get the cakes to stack on such a thick layer of frosting? Especially light and fluffy butter cream, like here??

    Thanks,
    Alexandra

  20. Sam says

    Hi Rosie,

    Love this recipe!
    I tried to make the Salted Caramel Buttercream today and it was delicious! But as soon as I put it in the piping back to put on top of my cupcakes (I made the Southern Devils Food ones), it went all curdled and separated and wouldn’t pipe out! Any ideas why? It was fine when it was in the bowl.
    Love your blog so so much,
    -Sam

  21. Jackie says

    I am joining the bandwagon and making this cake for my birthday next month. Yum-oh! Thanks Rosie for always taking the time to inspire us fellow cakers. xo

  22. Ruly Agivianna says

    Dear Rosie, I love your blog very much, its beautiful and very inspirational. I made this cake yesterday and it turned out amazing. At first I was afraid it wouldn’t came out great like yours, because I lived in Indonesia, a tropical country and now the weather is very very hot. But I continue made this cake…and…oooh…wow….a crowd pleaser..really. Thank you again dear.

  23. says

    Rosie, this cake is incredibly beautiful! I’m making it for my husband’s birthday and did notice a slight discrepancy in the recipe. For the filling, you indicate 1 1/4 cups of butter, which would be 2.5 sticks, but then in parentheses you have 12 oz. which would be 3 sticks. I know it isn’t a huge difference but just thought I’d point it out for clarification. I can’t wait to taste it all together!

    • says

      Hi Annie! Thanks so much! Sorry if that error caused any confusion–I’ve corrected it in the recipe, so all should be accurate now. It was indeed 12 oz, so it is 1 1/2 cups, not 1 1/4 cups butter. I hope you and your husband enjoy it!

  24. Heather says

    I tried making this last night for a friend’s birthday, but I had trouble with the frosting. The caramel in particular gave me fits. The first batch I made hardened when it cooled (perhaps I cooked it too long?) and the second stayed runny but didn’t have as much flavor (it was more pale but still had a pretty good caramel color, but perhaps I didn’t cook it long enough?). I also had more trouble with this SMB recipe than with Rosie’s usual recipe (which is to say, I never have trouble with the usual, and this one just wouldn’t cooperate). In particular, I accidentally made two batches of scrambled egg whites while trying to heat it to 160 (despite furious whisking on my part and keeping the water in the lower part of the double-boiler below the boiling point). Has anyone else had problems with this recipe, or do you have any tips? I love salted caramel and would love to get this frosting to work.

    • Louisa says

      Hello Heather! I was also really worried about the egg whites and stopped heating them at 140° – the buttercream turned out perfect anyways! Afterwards I read that egg whites start to cook at 143,6°F so I think that was a smart decision. I’m wondering myself how the others managed to heat the egg whites up to 160° without cooking them..

      • says

        Thanks for the info, Louisa! I typically heat the egg whites & sugar to 160°F, and it works well. When mixed with the sugar, the egg whites don’t cook at this temperature (provided you are gently whisking constantly), and it whips up into a lovely meringue. That being said, 140°F works perfectly well!

  25. Ruby says

    What an amazing looking cake! I made it into cupcakes few days a ago but found the cakes not quite sweet enough, I was a bit confused about the sugar amount, you said 11/2C=200g/7oz, but in your caramel frosting recipe it says 1C also=200g.
    So, in cake recipe, 11/2C sugar should be 300g then? Oh, but you know, it just gave me an excuse to eat them for breakfast, it’s all good!:)

  26. Tammy says

    i’m making a wedding cake and the bride wants a caramel filling for one of the tiers. does your salted caramel swiss buttercream have to be refrigerated since it has heavy cream? thank you

      • Tammy says

        Thanks for replying! i’m not sure i’ll be able to use this recipe on this cake :(. it’s going to be fondant covered and i’ve read in several places not to place fondant covered cakes in the fridge because of condensation when you take them out. guess i’ll just have to make this for myself :)

  27. Melanie says

    Oh, wow! I found this while searching for a caramel buttercream recipe, but wish I had found it a week earlier – I would have made it for my own birthday cake!

  28. Jason says

    Looks like a GREAT recipe, thanks for sharing. I’m thinking of using a gourmet caramel sauce the first go around instead of making my own. Do you recommend using about 11oz of store bought caramel? Thank you.

  29. Annie K B says

    I KNEW I had to make this the second I found this recipe. I made it tonight for Thanksgiving tomorrow so so far I only have an un-cut photo. I decided to split the 3 cakes in two to make 6 layers so there’d be more layers of the caramel buttercream. I almost ate half of it while assembling!

    Here is a picture :)

    https://twitter.com/#!/AnnieBroach/status/139532428481003520/photo/1

    I decided to use a big star tip to make flowers on the outside since I’m not very good at making the frosting smooth and crumb-free.

    Thanks for the amazing recipe! I enjoyed making it and I’m sure I’ll enjoy eating it even more ;)

  30. Tracy says

    I really want to make this cake for my cousin’s wife, but have NEVER been able to make caramel by boiling it with water. I always end up with all the moisture evaporating off & having nothing but rock solid sugar crystals (stuck to the pan & SO hard to clean!) Is this because I am not brushing down the sides of the pan enough? When I have to make caramel, I just usually heat the sugar directly in a pan, but I would rather learn how to make it according to the directions.

  31. Mandy says

    I have been in love with this cake ever since this post and come back often just to drool over the pictures. I have finally decided to make it soon for my husband’s birthday. As I am relatively new to baking cakes I had one question – a lot of recipes I see online make a note of adding the dry ingredients at the end and mixing only until incorporated. However, with your recipes I have noticed that you mix them in their together and quite obviously your cakes still too turn out beautifully.
    So it doesn’t make much difference when the dry ingredients are mixed in? Any advice for a beginner? Your input would be much appreciated :)

  32. Julie H says

    Making this but wanted to cheat with the pre made caramel sauce. Do you have an estimate for how much to use in place of making it.

  33. Mandy says

    I finally got around to making this and it turned out fantastic. I had one issue thought that my cakes still domed quite a bit, although I tried baking them in four thin layers in a 5 inch cake pan – any recommendation on how I can prevent it in the future?
    Thanks for such an amazing recipe :)

  34. Danielle says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting these recipes! I made this cake with the addition of some toasted coconut on the top and omg amazing! I think the salted caramel swiss buttercream is the best thing I’ve ever eaten. You have definitely helped convert me to a swiss buttercream lover. My only problem was when incorporating the chocolate into both the SMB and the fudge icing my melted chocolate got chunky. What did I do wrong?

  35. Noush Cookson says

    Hi, This cake looks so good! I’m going to make it for easter this year. I’m so excited. i was just wondering though, i don’t drink coffee and i wanted to know if i can substitute it with anything.

    • says

      Thanks, Noush! Honestly, the coffee is just to heighten the chocolate flavour, and there is absolutely no coffee taste in the cake. If you’re really wanting to omit it, then you can replace with boiling water. Hope that helps!

  36. Sharon says

    Hi Rosie,

    Ive been meaning to try this recipe but don’t have access to good quality cocoa powder. Would it be possible to substitute it with baking chocolate?

  37. Grant says

    This recipe looks amazing! I’m hoping to try it out this weekend, but I have 2 9″ pans and no 6″ pans. How much should I add to the recipe to make it so I have enough batter to make a 3 layer cake?

    Thanks!! Looking forward to making this!

    • says

      Hi Grant! So sorry I didn’t get back to you in time. Did you make the cake this past weekend? If so, I’m curious what increases you made? If you still need the info, let me know and I can try to work it out for you!

      • Grant says

        I did make it this weekend. No increases in anything, other than about a tsp of salt into the caramel buttercream. I could never get the egg whites and sugar combo to form peaks though! So my buttercream was a little thicker. I think when I make the cake again in the future I’ll make more caramel to add the the buttercream and maybe use either 2 sticks unsalted butter and 1 stick salted butter to add a little more saltiness and pop to it.

        With the 9″ cakes, I think doubling the buttercream recipe would be a good idea.
        I had to slice the cakes pretty thin to make 4 layers, so if you could try and work something out to compensate, I think it’d make the next time even more delicious!

        • Kylee says

          I made this cake for a friend’s birthday, and double your recipe made three fairly decent 9″ layers, which could easily be sliced again for a 6 layer cake.

  38. T says

    Looks yummy. I wonder if it would work to use Chai tea instead of coffee. I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee/ hate the taste.

  39. chelsea says

    If I halved the recipe, do you think it would make enough batter to fill one 6 inch round layer pan? Thanks!! Love your blog! I made the Funfetti cake last weekend and it turned out wonderfully! :D

  40. Nicola says

    Hi Rosie! I’ve recently discovered your blog, and I must say I find myself completely enamored with your skill. Not only are you an amazing baker, you have excellent photography skills as well!
    I can’t wait to make this cake, but I was wondering about how much frosting would be left over? Would there be enough to frost 2 cakes? Thanks :)

  41. Krysten says

    My son asked for this cake for his 18th birthday. Is it me, or am I missing when to add the vanilla to the caramel buttercream? Do you add it with the sea salt when it reaches temperature, like when you make traditional caramels?
    Thank you! I’m sure it will turn out delicious!

  42. Michaela says

    Thanks to you I have discovered SMBC! I made this cake and did not have any trouble with the SMBC other than the caramel. I prepared it as you instructed, but it solidified after cooling. I have made a french caramel buttercream before and the caramel was a liquid when added. I had to melt the caramel back down and it was pretty warm, so my butter melted a bit. I placed the bowl in the fridge and it came back together just fine. Do you have a temperature for the caramel to prevent cooking too much? Also, I made the chocolate frosting the night before, but when I went to re-mix it last night after bringing it to room temperature, it had a slightly grainy look to it and upon initially tasting it was grainy but then melted in my mouth. I wonder if it was the chocolate I used? Love your blog, this is the second cake I have made any despite my troubles above, it turned out great!

  43. Velvet says

    This looks amazing!! I want to make it to bring to a friend’s house, but her husband can’t have dairy and I just realized I can’t make the caramel frosting without dairy…Anyone have any ideas on if it’s possible to substitute for the heavy cream?

  44. Judy says

    I’m wondering about the cocoa powder. For the cake you don’t mention Dutch in the recipe but the link you provided is Dutch. Is it Dutch used in the cake? Thanks!

    • Judy says

      Me again. I went ahead and made it with the “natural” cocoa. Seems like it rose well, even had doming issues… (Made it in two 9 inch pans.) It was a bit of a disaster though. It took me two tries to get the whites without cooking them, and then I accidentally beat them too long and they went beyond peaks into that next stage… fluffy-ish. And I can really only taste the butter in my carmel buttercream, and my cakes stuck to the wire after they were completely cooled. I let them sit in their pans on the rack for 20 minutes before turning them out. This is a problem I consistently have with my cakes, which are usually from a box- the tops are too sticky. Even if I’m making a sheet cake the frosting tears the top. Any ideas why this is happening? Thanks so much, I love your work, it’s truly inspiring. Wish it weren’t so expensive to experiment and figure out what I’m doing wrong!! Oy. Thanks for the vent! lol Anyway, any help you might have would be greatly appreciated. :)

  45. says

    Rosie… I have to say that I’ve been trying a lot of your recipes lately. I ADORE this chocolate cake; it’s sooo moist, but works well for layering too. And SMB is simply amazing, I don’t even mind the extra work that goes into it. I’ve followed your recipes (not to a T because I’m an aspiring baker, and I can’t ever leave a recipe alone lol) and never have any trouble. The salted caramel SMB was my first time using SMB and it was delicious. I did add a little more salt, but it was to die for. You’re truly an inspiration.

  46. says

    This looks great and I’m half-way through making it. One question though, I’m I reading right that you pile carmel buttercream on the top layer? Doesn’t it just smush down when you try to spread the frosting on top of it? Any tips would be great. It is for a birthday and I’m trying not to mess it up.
    Thanks!

  47. says

    Wait no, you’re talking about the top cake layer. I was trying to figure out where the thrid layer of filling fit in and just noticed your note about the photo being 4 layers.

  48. Kelsey says

    I made this cake for my sisters 27th birthday party and it was amazing!! Everyone loved it! Thanks for the great recipe!

  49. Jacqueline says

    Do you think I’d get a more complex caramel flavor if I used a brown sugar SMB as my base and added the homemade caramel sauce to it at the end?

  50. Kylee says

    I made this cake for a friend’s birthday at easter and have been thinking about it ever since. I’ve never been huge into caramel, finding it rather sickly sweet but apparently all it needed was a little salt.

    I think I will make this cake for my birthday this year, because I just can’t forget about it.

  51. Irene says

    it is the BEST CHOCOLATE FROSTING i ever had…. can’t tell you how YUM, light and fluffy it is!!
    the only down thing (although it is not really) is that is it sooo soft like pudding so i cannot use it under my fondant cakes… i wish i can always..always use this frosting

    thank you for the recipe
    your blog is the best <3

    • Irene says

      can i try this fudge frosting with white chocolate too?!! and if anything i need to change if i do so ?
      thanksssss

      PS. i was wrong it hardens very well after put in fridge.. this will be my to go frosting from now on… this is INVENTION :)

  52. Ethel says

    Hi Rosie, I know it’s a little late. But I love your blog and I’ve been looking for a fudgey chocolate frosting for the longest time and yours looks so wonderful. I tried it, but mine turned into chocolate soup. Was it because my melted chocolate wasn’t cooled enough? Please help :( Thanks!!

  53. Laura says

    Hi Rosie,
    I had a problem when I mixed the cooled, melted chocolate with the buttercream, some of the chocolate solidified and as a result my smooth buttercream ended up with teeny bits of chocolate in it. Any idea why this might have happened? I had kept the buttercream out of the freezer (and on the counter) overnight, and used it more than 12 hours after I took it out of the freezer. I guess my fondant won’t look very good now :(, but I would really like to avoid this the next time I make chocolate buttercream.

  54. says

    I love your recipes because the instructions are so thorough that they always turn out perfect first time…until now. I have tried three times to make the salted caramel frosting and the eggs ALWAYS cook around 120 degrees. I feel like weeping! What am I doing wrong? I never normally have trouble with Swiss meringue buttercream – can I make it the normal way or will it be way too sweet? I’m going bananas and running out of eggs, and time…

  55. Michelle Rolfe says

    Hi Rosie, I would love to make this cake for my father in laws 65th birthday this weekend. A I’ve a few other things to get prepared for dinner on Saturday night I’m wondering if you would advise which parts i could make up ahead of time and leave to rest in the refrigerator? I am happy enough to make the chocolate cakes the day before but more worried about the SMBC or the chocolate frosting? Also, I noticed above that others asked about the change in pan sizes, I only have 8″ pans an wondering if I should just do a 2 layer cake or if I can increase to get a 3rd cake there?

    Thanks

  56. says

    Hey Rosie,

    So far I have made two of your cakes. Today I attempted this cake. The cakes turned out lovely. Although, I used your recipe for swiss buttercream and for some reason I failed twice. Their for I went with my usual method and did italian buttercream. I also made more carmel and added a bit more salt to the buttercream. When I made the chocolate fudge coating for the outside. Fresh off the mixer it was simply lovely. A very nice consistency. Although when I went to frost it after assembling the cake, chilling it for 20 minutes… It became like fudge. I whipped it back up and it was very difficult to work with. I managed but it is not shiny and glossy like yours. It set up as a harder coating. Did I do something wrong?
    Thanks!

  57. Caitriona says

    In an unexpected twist, this cake works perfectly well if you lose the plot completely and forget to put any eggs in the sponge. Very forgiving recipe : )

  58. Erisha says

    Hi,

    I would like to try making the caramel SMBC. But would like to reconfirm, when you say let the egg white mixture reach 160 degree. Do you mean Fahrenheit or Celsius?

    Thanks

  59. Kaylie says

    Rosie, everything went well even the caramel and buttercream. Except the fudge frosting which wasnt fudgy or dark enough, much to my disappointment. Probably due to my substituting a third of the choc with milk choc :( othet than that im sure its going to be fantastic

  60. Alexandria says

    Hi Rosie,

    Love your recipes!! I do have a ‘shortcut’ I use when making the buttercream however. While I do have more than one bowl for my mixer, I hate having to wash so many bowls just for a buttercream. Instead, I allow the butter to come completely to room temp and then simply mash it up with the tines of a fork right onto the butter wrapper. It comes out beatifully without any butter lumps in the frosting and I don’t have to rewash a bowl!

  61. snowflakes says

    Hi Rosie,
    Thank you for the lovely recipes. Yours is the first place I visit when looking for inspiration for a cake. the only issue I had with this cake is that the salted Caramel SMBC hardened and did not come back to room temperature.. I guess the caramel solidified when I refrigerated it. I frosted the cake with chocolate smbc which was heavenly. I dont know if anybody else had the same issue but I thought I would bring it to your notice. Many thanks Rosie.

  62. Paula says

    Hi Rosie. I made this cake today. (just the cake). WOW!! The flavor is rich, the color is deep and gorgeous, and the texture is just how I like: a little firmer, but moist and soft. Awesome cake. My “go to” for a dark chocolate cake. Question: While I love making 6″ cakes, my other love is 8″ cakes. In order to make a 3 layer 8″, would just doubling work or how to do? Thank you.

  63. Ruth says

    Hi Rosie,

    Lovely looking cake!

    I’m thinking of making the Salted Caramel Butter Cream and thought I’d use store bought caramel sauce(Dulce de leche)instead of making my own. How much caramel sauce would you suggest adding?

    Thanks

  64. Nicole says

    I have to let you know – I found this recipe through Pinterest and just made one for the 2013 Denver County Fair. It won the Blue Ribbon!!! I did the version where you split the buttercream into half caramel and half chocolate (after tasting how rich the cake was I did milk chocolate). It was delish, and a 1st pace winner, thanks!!!!

  65. Valerie says

    Do you think this would hold up to fondant? I know some buttercreams are meltier at room temp and can bulge at the layers. I have a request for a sweet salty grooms cake and this looks phenomenal! The finished cake will be covered in fondant however…

  66. Zulpha says

    Hi

    I just wanted to know, you say the egg whites should reach 160° on a candy thermometer. Is that 160°F or 160°C?

    Thank you

  67. Elizabeth says

    Wow, this salted caramel buttercream is amazing! I never thought I could make a swiss meringue buttercream, but now I know I can! Thank you for the recipe and for your wonderful detailed instructions. I can’t wait to frost the cake and serve it – yum!

  68. Emily says

    Hi Rosie,

    Just wanted to let you know that I made this cake for myself for my birthday last week, and it was DELICIOUS! (And everyone else who had some loved it, too.) Thanks for continuing to bring us these amazing recipes and beautiful photos to inspire me to make them!

  69. Jackie says

    Tried this recipe for my birthday (Thanksgiving this year)! Loved it! Thank you so much for this recipe. I was wondering what the reason was for heading the egg whites? Was this to pasteurize the eggs to prevent illness? I was wondering if this step could be skipped if the eggs were already pasteurized or if I bought eggbeaters-style egg whites? What is your thought on this?

  70. JwHw says

    I plan on making this for my SIL baby shower in a couple weeks. I’ve baked pies, home made brownies, cookies galore etc… but have yet to experience success with a cake. I’d much rather bake a pie. Weird, I know.

    Anyway, I was surprised to see there’s no temping of the caramel? If people are struggling to have caramel sauce come out and they aren’t using a candy thermometer, I’d suggest not doing that anymore! Caramel has to be heated to about 350 degrees. Yes, you can go by color but when making candy (sugar recipes) it’s important to use the tools available to ensure success.

    If people are struggling with this recipe, there’s a really good one that I’ve experienced a lot of success with in the BAKED cookbook for the salted caramel brownies. It’s not the thickest sauce ever but it’s super easy to make.

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