Pipe Dream #194: To Be Easily Amused – Chocolate Cake + Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

almond cake 3

In -depth layer cakes are for Saturdays. A girl’s gotta commit to something. Unless it is a no-commitment weekend. My dear friend suggested this recipe to me, and I couldn’t resist.  SALTED CARAMEL CREAM CHEESE FROSTING. Say that again.

Plus, I’ve been meaning to try Ina’s chocolate cake recipe for two years. It’s an internet standard, straight up chocolate cake. About this cake: it comes together in a cinch, and it’s really tasty. A little less dense than the super moist chocolate cake I’ve raved about before, but a little more flavorful than this one-bowl chocolate cake. Try it, you’ll like it.

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I will say. I did try and make my own caramel for the salted caramel frosting (which is why this recipe counts as “in-depth.”)

It wasn’t ultra-successful. The original recipe wasn’t super clear about the cooking time, which I realized, but I was just too lazy to look up a more detailed recipe. I decided to try and feel my way through it, but given my track record with caramel, this was an unwise decision. Will I never learn?

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The caramel lacked flavor; I didn’t cook until it reached a “deep caramel color.” In my defense, look at the above picture. Would you call that a “deep caramel color?” What is a “deep caramel color?” I’m making caramel. I knew I was sunk after the heavy cream I added didn’t foam up either, instead pooling like so many tributaries. But the end result, even though not as toasty as I would have liked, was still yummy. I mean, if you poured it all over my ice cream and/or quesadillas, I would still eat it.

P.S. When is the last time you had a quesadilla? Seriously, it has probably been, like, 11 years.

almond cake 1

The caramel frosting is also the reason I didn’t spend too much time dressing this cake up, except for the retro almond crusting. By the time I was finished slogging through the emotional highs and lows of failing caramel once again, I was in no mood to toast almonds and meticulously smooth out every crack and crevice like a plastic surgeon. Plastic surgery and cake should never go together. They are like the two positive ends of a cow stomach magnet. That is, they are not attracted to one another.

(What, you didn’t play with cow stomach magnets as a kid? You are so strange. I am easily amused, apparently.)

Hoo-ee this has been a post for the analogies. Sorry.

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I was also clearly not in the mood to wait until the cake was cool/the frosting firmed up before slicing into this baby. No regrets on this point.

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Impatient always,


Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Ina Garten

1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup hot, strong coffee
1 1/3 cups  flour
2/3 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 8″ cake pans with parchment. Grease the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir until just combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula a few times to make sure that everything is well-incorporated.

Divide the batter into the two pans and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Salted Caramel
Adapted from life on blackberry farm

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher

Combine the sugar, water, and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, swirling (not stirring!) the mixture until the caramel turns amber-colored. Note: I’m not sure how long this should take (maybe 5 minutes?). I didn’t do mine long enough, and the caramel flavor wasn’t strong, but at least I didn’t make crunchy candy caramel.

Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 seconds. Pour the heavy cream into the mixture. Stir the mixture, then add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.

Pour 1/2 cup of the caramel into a measuring cup cup and allow to cool until just warm, maybe 20 minutes.

Salted Caramel Frosting
Adapted from life on blackberry farm

1 stick butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup salted caramel

Beat the butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar into the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat to combine, then add 1/2 cup of the salted caramel and beat to combine. Add additional powdered sugar until the frosting is the correct consistency. If you find that the frosting is still too soft, you can set it up in the fridge for a few minutes.

To assemble to the cake, frost as desired and decorate with about 2 ounces of sliced almonds, toasted if you want.


4 Responses to “Pipe Dream #194: To Be Easily Amused – Chocolate Cake + Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. 1 ljeburms May 6, 2013 at 9:24 am

    This looks incredible…so incredible, that I’ve just checked my kitchen cupboards to see if I have the ingredients in!

  2. 2 Collin Arneson May 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    It’s easier to make caramel with a thermometer – no mucking around with subjective terms like “dark caramel color.” The classic caramel is cooked to between 310F and 350F. Above 350F, and it’s burned. I usually cook it to 340F.


  3. 3 snookiescakes May 6, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I’m in with anything that has to do with salt and caramel. Looks delicious!

  4. 4 raaachellll! May 23, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    lauren!! what!! you are amazing!!

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