Sweet and Salty Cake

Salted Caramel

1/4 c (60 ml) water
1/2 c (100 g) sugar
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 c (60 ml) heavy cream
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
1/8 c (30 ml) sour cream

Combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan with tall sides, stirring to combine. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture reaches 350F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the cream and salt. Bring to a boil and cook until salt has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the cream from the heat and set aside.

When the caramel has reached 350F, remove it from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Carefully add half of the hot cream to the caramel (it will bubble) and whisk quickly to combine. Add the remaining half and whisk to combine. Whisk in sour cream.

Cool the caramel completely and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Whipped Caramel Ganache

1/4 c (60 ml) water
1 c (100 g) sugar
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 lb (454 g) dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 c (180 ml) heavy cream
2 c (473 g) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened but still cool

Combine water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan with tall sides, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the mixture reaches 350F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

In another small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the caramel mixture has reached 350F, remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Carefully add half of the hot cream to the caramel and whisk to combine. Carefully whisk in the remaining caramel and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Place the chocolate in the bowl of an electric mixer and pour the slightly cooled caramel sauce over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute. Slowly begin stirring the mixture, but hand, from the center out until the chocolate is melted and smoothed.

Attach bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and run on low until the bottom of the bowl is room temperature when touched from the outside. Add butter and increase speed to medium-high, beating until mixture is well combined, thickened, and slightly whipped, about 2 minutes.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

3/4 c (67 g) cocoa powder
1 1/4 c (296 ml) water, hot
2/3 c (156 ml) sour cream
2 2/3 (378 g) c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c (177 g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c (104 g) vegetable shortening
1 1/2 c (300 g) granulated sugar
1 c dark (142 g) brown sugar
3 eggs, room temp
1 Tbsp pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 325F. Oil and line three 8" x 2" round cake pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, water and sour cream. Set them aside to cool, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In another large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Fit your electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat the butter and shortening together until very smooth, about 7 minutes. Add both the brown sugar and white sugar, then continue beating until light and fluffy, about 7 additional minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat each until very well incorporated before adding the next, scraping the bowl often. Add the 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 the batter evenly (using a scale, if you like!) among the three prepared pans. Bake until the cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan on a rack, then de-pan and cool to room temp. For the sake of trimming the cakes, I like to refrigerate the layers, well wrapped in plastic wrap, immediately after removing them from the pan. If you're not too worried about crumbs, feel free to skip that step.

Assembly

Salted Caramel
Whipped Caramel Ganache
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

Using a serrated knife, trim the tops of cakes to make them level. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Using half of the caramel, spread a thin layer on the cake. Top the caramel with a layer of about 1 cup of the ganache icing. Add the second layer of cake on top and repeat the process with another layer of caramel followed by a layer of ganache icing. Place the remaining layer on top of the second layer with the bottom side on top. Frost the entire cake with the remaining ganache and garnish with fleur de sel.
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