Birthday cake decision making is not the sort of thing that should be taken lately.
You only get one a year, after all. And it pretty much has to epitomize all that is right and good and amazing in this world. Each bite should be borderline orgasmic. No pressure.
My friends/boss/boyfriend always chide me for insisting on making my own cake, but really where am I going to get a cake that fits all of these criteria anywhere other than my own kitchen?
I mean, okay, if we're being literal, in terms of this specific cake, I could have forced someone to go down to Red Hook (Brooklyn) to the Baked bakery and pick one up for me. Along with a side of horse meatballs from the IKEA next door. But we all know that wasn't going to happen.
And besides. When you make your own cake, you get to take the day off from work to do so.
That's totally a law-according-to-Joanne situation.
(But I refuse to take even an ounce of blame if you get in trouble for doing so, mmkay.)
So yes, on Monday after I got home from NOLA, I set to making this baby.
It was exhausting. And I will never understand how professional bakers do this all day without taking naps after every step. (Which I may or may not have done.)
But it was so worth it.
The cake was incredibly moist and intensely chocolatey. While the salted caramel and caramel ganache frosting were, respectively, intensely salty and intensely rich, which, together, made for some serious harmony. In short, birthday-cake-worthy it most certainly was.
Speaking of birthdays, I have a bit of a birthday wish to ask of you. As some of you may know, I am running the NYC Half Marathon with Team in Training, in about three weeks. In running with Team in Training, I am raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the proceeds of which goes to help fund treatment for patients as well as to fund research for new and improved treatments for all kinds of cancers, not just blood cancers.
As many of you know, my dad died unexpectedly from cancer in September and I know he would never want me to stop fighting or running for a cure. I have $650 left to raise before I reach my goal, and if any of you could spare just five dollars to make a donation, I would really appreciate it. Here's the link to my fundraising page. No one should ever have to suffer from this disease - not young children, not parents, not friends, not family - and we need to fight as hard as we can to make that the case. Thank you all in advance!
(PS - See below the recipe for a fun GIVEAWAY!)
One year ago...Lentil Pomegranate Stew with Spinach and Raisins, Grapefruit Cardamom Polenta Pancakes
Two years ago..Spaghetti and Spaghetti Squash with Lemon Garlic Sauce and Ricotta
Three years ago...Sesame Noodle Salad with Dried Pineapple, Baba Ganoush on Pesto Pine Nut Bread
Sweet and Salty Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) triple layer cake, adapted from Baked
For the classic chocolate cake:
- 3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 cups hot water
- 2/3 cup greek yogurt
- 2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
For the salted caramel:
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp fleur de sel
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup greek yogurt
For the whipped caramel ganache frosting:
- 1 lb dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp light corn syrup
- 2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and then butter again. Dust with flour and knock out the excess.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and greek yogurt. Set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until ribbonlike, or for 5 minutes. Add in the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.
- Add the flour mixture to the bowl in three additions, alternating with the cocoa mixture.
- Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.
- 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 an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn.
- In the meantime, in a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring together carefully so you get as little as possible on the side of the pan. Cook over high heat until the mixture is dark amber in color, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.
- Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the greek yogurt. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you're ready to frost the cake.
- Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat. Keep a close eye on it so that it doesn't burn.
- In the meantime, combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Stir carefully. Cook over high heat until dark amber in color, 6-8 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute.
- Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes. Pour the caramel over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Starting in the center of the bowl and working your way out, slowly stir the chocolate and caramel in a circle until all the chocolate is melted. Let cool. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch.
- Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl. Beat on high speed until it is fluffy.
- Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup caramel over the top. Let the caramel soak into the cake, then spread 3/4 cup of the ganache frosting over the caramel. Top with the second cake layer. Spread with another layer of caramel and then the frosting. Top with the third layer. Spread with caramel. Crumb coat the cake (apply a VERY thin layer of frosting) and then put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.
- This cake can remain at room temp in a cake saver for up to 3 days. If the room is not cool, then refrigerate it. Let sit at room temp for at least 2 hours before serving, if taking it from the fridge, to warm up.
Are you guys chronic snackers? Yeah, me too. Thankfully, Whole Foods Market has recently launched a new line of products called the Engine 2 Plant-Strong products that make snacking so.much.healthier. They are a new line of plant-based minimally processed snacks, breakfast items and pantry staples. These products adhere to the "Engine 2 Diet" guidelines, meaning that they are low in fat, contain no added sugars, animal products, or added oils, and are low in sodium. There are many new products in this line that are currently available nationwide ranging from multiple flavors of whole grain omega-3-packed cereal, hummus, almond milk, crispbreads, salsa, and tortillas.
I got to try the crispbreads and the jalapeno-cilantro hummus and have to say that these made for an awesome midday snack. The high-in-protein hummus made me feel satisfied and full and the cracker was such a fun crispy vehicle for eating it!
Every so kindly, Whole Foods has offered a to giveaway a package of the crispbreads to TWENTY of my readers!! So all you have to do to enter is to tell me what your favorite healthy snack is! The giveaway ends next Friday!