Read, Run, Repeat

A tale of fitness, books, food, and life in between

Scrumptious Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cake

on September 5, 2013

I take birthdays VERY seriously…. I feel like your birthday is a day to celebrate the person that you are and the person that you want to become – all your “mistakes”, accomplishments, and last year of life. Likewise, I take birthday cake making VERY seriously as well – and I often spend quite a bit of time searching for THE perfect cake recipe for the birthday boy/girl. P had requested a chocolate salted caramel cake for his special day (that or chocolate peanut butter, which I had to work really hard to stay away from … we all know how I feel about THAT combination!!).

So I quickly went on the hunt to find the perfect recipe… and I quickly learned that almost every recipe out there is based off of the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking recipe – so I used that recipe, as well as this one from Joanne Eats Well With Others and tinkered with it a bit.

Check out this masterpiece:

You GUYS. This cake is downright amazing. I think about it during the day, and at about 9:00ish I start to yell “Time for Cake!!” Thank goodness I sent my family home with cake, otherwise I think that I’d probably eat the whole darn thing myself. Not kidding. The cake is moist and dense and so chocolatey … and the frosting is a thicker ganache, which is just to die for, and the sea salt just takes it over the top. You need this cake in your life. And it makes for a perfect birthday dessert!

But here’s some things I should probably tell you first:

  • This cake was a labor of love. It was quite time consuming (worth it for me in the end, but I seriously needed a nap. or several. I’ll never know how “real” bakers do it!). However, that could have been due to:
    • I don’t have a stand mixer
    • I suck at making my own caramel. I kid you not. I burned the first batch and the next batches weren’t quite right!
  • The caramel is the hardest part of this cake. If you are adept at this process, you’re golden.
    • I tried using a saucepan and in a double boiler. Burned the first batch in the saucepan, tried the double boiler and 30 min later, the darn thing wasn’t even close to caramelizing!! So, I went back to the saucepan method!
    • A candy thermometer might actually have been helpful – apparently the caramel should have been around 350 degrees.
    • My 2nd batch of caramel went into the center of the cake – it was not the right consistency (so runny!) or color really, and the cake still tasted amazing.
    • Next time, I think I’m going to use sundae caramel topping and add the fleur de sel instead of making my own!
  • This is in no way a “healthy” cake – despite the greek yogurt! – it uses almost an entire box of butter between the cake and the frosting. WORTH IT
  • I firmly believe that strong coffee is the secret to an amazing chocolate cake
  • I chose to splurge on the “fleur de sel” sea salt – I found it in my local grocery store (which totally surprised me, since some days I can’t get bananas there!). It only cost me about $6, and I think it made a big difference. Other recipe reviews I read suggested using regular sea salt in the caramel and then using the more expensive stuff for the top.
  • Original recipe indicated that this recipe made 1 triple layer cake (9 inch), but I made mine a double layer cake in 8-inch pans.

Without further ado – the chocolate cake that you need in your life:

Scrumptious Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cake

(Makes 1 (8-inch) double layer cake (but you would have enough batter for 3 layers if you wanted)

Chocolate Cake:


  • ¾ cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
  • ¾ cup brewed coffee (mine was strong!)
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 2/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray two 8-inch cake pans, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then spray again. Dust with flour and then knock out the excess
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cocoa powder, coffee, hot water, and greek yogurt. Set aside to cool
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside
  4. Cream the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the sugars and beat until it looks light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after adding each one. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and beat for an additional 30 seconds
  5. Add the flour mixture to bowl, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in 3 additions. (flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa)
  6. Divide into cake pans and smooth the tops (they will be full!)
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes (I started checking mine after 22 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted to the middle of the cake
  8. Let pans cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then invert the pans on wire racks, remove the pans, and let the cakes cool completely. The cake should slide right out.

Salted Caramel


  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup greek yogurt

Directions (side note: you will be making a similar batch of this for the frosting, but the ingredients are slightly different)

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved. Keep your eye on it so it doesn’t burn!
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine water, sugar and corn syrup, stirring together very carefully so you get as little as possible on the sides of your pan. Cook over high heat until the mixture is dark amber in color (about 6-8 minutes) {I can’t give you any hints here, other than it burns really quickly once the color starts to change!}
  3. Remove from heat and let cool for 1 minute
  4. Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture, then whisk in the greek yogurt. Let cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to frost the cake.

Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting


  • 1 lb dark chocolate, chopped (I used a bag of Hershey’s dark chocolate chips along with 1 (3.5 oz) dark chocolate Lindt bar, which I chopped up)
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, soft, but cool – cut into 1/2 inch pieces


  1. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Set aside
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn!
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine water, sugar and corn syrup, stirring together very carefully so you get as little as possible on the sides of your pan. Cook over high heat until the mixture is dark amber in color (about 6-8 minutes)
  4. Remove from heat and let cool for 1 minute
  5. Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine (this was difficult for me, as the caramel just balled up on me in the cream. I ended up putting it back on the stove on low heat to stir it together)
  6. Pour the caramel mixture over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Starting stirring in the center of the bowl and work your way outwards, moving in a circle, until the chocolate is melted. Let cool.
  7. Beat the chocolate mixture with an electric mixer on low speed until your bowl is cool to the touch
  8. Increase the speed to medium high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly mixed. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high until light and fluffy.

**are you tired yet? Almost there!**

Putting it all together:

  1. Place one layer of the cake on a cake platter. Spread the caramel over the top, and let it soak into the cake (I actually chose to poke small holes in my cake with a fork). Spread ½ of your frosting (or to your liking) over the caramel and then sprinkle with approximately 1 tsp of fleur de sel. Top with second layer of cake. (if you chose to make 3 layers, you’re going to want to repeat this step!) Put cake into the fridge for 10 minutes to let the ganache harden – I didn’t do this and found that the top layer started to slide.
  2. Spread the top of the cake with caramel, and then crumb coat the cake (this is using a very thin layer of frosting on the tops and sides, which helps to prevent you from getting crumbs in your final layer of frosting). Place cake back in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to harden. The pre-hardened ganache is very liquid-like once it’s on the cake, so you’re going to want to work fast!
  3. Finish by frosting the top and sides of the cake with a thicker layer of frosting and garnish with fleur de sel
  4. EAT! (I served mine right out of the fridge, as I was concerned that the ganache would start to melt if I left it out too long!)

As you can see, it ends up being somewhat laborious, but I PROMISE that it’s worth the effort. And as I said, if you can actually make caramel, the whole cake making will go much more smoothly! Let me know if you try this one out – and if you end up being as addicted to it as I am!!

Answer me this: What do you like to eat on your birthday? What would your last meal be?

~ Brittany


One response to “Scrumptious Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cake

  1. That looks delicious!! I love carrot cake myself on my birthday and tapas or mexican food is always a winner 🙂

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