Another birthday cake to make! I really enjoyed this one, lots of steps and stages to get through but once it all came together it was one of my favourite cakes to make and to eat. Super duper rich with deep, dark chocolate sponge, layered with buttercream and drizzled with salted caramel at every opportunity!
I always worry about overcooking chocolate cakes as they are so easily dry and uninteresting but the salted caramel salvages any sponge that has 5 minutes too long on the oven. This is a bit of a showstopper and perfect to be shared with a crowd to celebrate something special.
For the dark chocolate cake:
- 200g dark chocolate
- 200g butter
- 1 tbsp instant coffee
- 85g self-raising flour
- 85g plain flour
- ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200g soft brown sugar
- 200g caster sugar
- 30g cocoa powder
- 3 eggs
- 75ml buttermilk (or 70ml milk with 1 tsp white vinegar)
For the salted caramel:
- 125g caster sugar
- 100ml water
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup
- 25g unsalted butter
- 150ml double cream
- 1/2 teaspoon good quality flaked sea salt (see note)
For the caramel buttercream:
- 250g butter
- 330g icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons caramel sauce
For the cake, grease and line two 20cm round cake tins and preheat the oven to 140C fan/conventional 160C/ gas 3. Heat a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and break in 200g dark chocolate. Dice the butter into pieces and tip in with the chocolate, adding instant coffee granules into 125ml cold water. Take off the heat once everything has fully melted and combined.
Meanwhile, take out a large mixing bowl and mix the 85g self-raising flour, 85g plain flour, ¼ bicarbonate of soda, 200g light muscovado sugar, 200g golden caster sugar and 25g cocoa powder using a wooden spoon. Beat in the 3 medium eggs in a bowl and stir in the buttermilk.
Once the dry is well combined, slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture followed by the melted chocolate mixture to ensure the eggs do not cook at all, stirring just until everything is well blended and you have a smooth, runny consistency. Pour half into each of the prepped tins and bake for 65-70 minutes tunic the top is set and a skewer comes out clean then leave to cool completely.
To make your caramel, heat the sugar, water and golden syrup in a heavy based saucepan. Bring it to the boil for about 15-20 minutes and let everything bubble away until all of the sugar has melted, much of the water has evaporated, and its just turning a deep, rich amber colour. You can stir the mixture occasionally if you think it might be sticking to the pan but generally leave it to bubble until the caramel sticks to the back of a cold spoon (see image). Remove from the heat, and melt in the butter. Whisk in the double cream. Add the salt according to taste. I used about half a teaspoon, but start with less, taste the caramel and add more if needed.
To make your buttercream, cream together the butter and sugar. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar and beat to combine. Fold in the milk. Stir through one and half tablespoons of your fully-cooled caramel sauce.
Combining it all, is the fun part of course! Make sure everything is cooled (or you may want to reheat your caramel if it has solidified). Spoon 1/3 of the caramel over each of the cake layers, spreading it around to fully cover the sponge. you may also want to make small holes to encourage the caramel to permeate in. Cover each layer in 1/2 the buttercream, then put one sponge on top of the other. Smooth the top layer of buttercream to your liking then spoon over the remaining 1/3 of caramel drizzle. For a fancy finish, sprinkle some course sea salt and grate over some dark chocolate. Serve small slices, this is rich!