Monday, December 26, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Cake with Hickory Nut Pralines


1) M.I.A.... Yes, I have been gone since November. You haven't seen me. I haven't seen you either. I have been in the throws of chocolate making. I have had nightmares about filling chocolate orders and midnight panics that my chocolate was over-seeded and not coating my fillings properly.
2) November really depressed me. It was hard to be inspired about making delicious food when you feel -meh- about everything. Sometimes when you are feeling really down, you want to give up on everything. I had a few days there where I even wanted to give up on chocolate making.
3) I moved out into some sunshine for some needed Vitamin D and just poured myself into chocolate my making. Loads of good music and beautiful friends can work magic on the sad soul. Everything somehow turned around. Perspective is everything.
4) The holidays arrived. We celebrated Christmas with my mother and enjoyed a beautiful day filled with wickedly delicious food, the above cake, and wine and rum and more wine.
5) My husband really surprised me this Christmas with a plane ticket to Ecuador. I am one giant step closer to my chocolate internship in Ecuador. Yeah!
6) Family and friends are what help bring sanity to the craziness of the holidays. Bless you all. Seriously, thank you for keeping me grounded with your warm tea, delicious cookies, fresh bread and most of all your hugs and laughter. Muah!


Now for this hot damn, highly caloric cake. You don't need the holidays to make something like this. But it may help. I hear many of you giving yourself the excuse the indulge because you are in the midst of holiday season. Well.... this cake will allow you to indulge and then put you an extra 600 calories over the limit of the limit that you already exceeded earlier.

Chocolate Caramel Cake with Hickory Nut Pralines

The cake. The recipe for this cake was first sourced off of the Bon Appetite Magazine/Epicurious Web Site. I kept the cake recipe the same yet I changed the frosting a bit and added on the hickory nut pralines. The cake was just over the top. My god, with practically 2 lbs of high quality chocolate and ungodly amounts of sugar, butter and heavy cream, the cake really wowed our mouths and bellies. (I just finished another piece off for my lunch)

The pralines I will include in my next blog post as there is too much here already with just the cake and the frosting. I actually think the word "frosting" sounds cheap when talking about the amazing chocolate caramel mixture that covers the cake. It is more like a candy filling, velvety, sweet and chocolatey delicious. 

 For The Chocolate Cake: - Straight from Epicurious.com

2 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup lukewarm water (I added lukewarm coffee)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1) Oven to 350 degrees. Butter two, 9" cake pans. Line with parchment paper and butter and flour again. 

2) Combine first five ingredients in a medium bowl and then whisk together. In mixer with the paddle attachment, blend butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add in eggs, one at a time. Mix after each addition. Add in vanilla.

3) Alternate between adding the dry mixture with the buttermilk until you added in all the buttermilk and dry ingredients. Add in lukewarm water or even better (lukewarm coffee). Mix until just blended. Hand stir in the chocolate chips.

4) Pour and divide ingredients in between the two pans. Place into hot oven. Test at 25 minutes. If not quite done, give it another 4 minutes. Do not over bake.

5) Let cake cool for ten minutes, then invert onto cooling racks and peel off the parchment paper. Let the cakes cool completely before slicing into layers. 


Caramel Chocolate Frosting: -you can choose to use just milk chocolate for a sweeter more caramel flavor or go with what I chose for a delicious deep chocolate caramel flavor.

17 ounces high quality semi-sweet chocolate. 55% cocoa content. chopped finely.
10 ounces hight quality milk chocolate. chopped finely.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
2 1/4 cups whipping cream

Place chopped chocolate in a large stainless steel bowl. Heat cream just until boiling. Turn off immediately and cover. In a heavy bottomed large sauce pan, stir sugar and water until all the sugar is moistened. Turn on medium high heat and heat until the sugar caramelizes and turns a nice amber brown. Heat to about 350 degrees. I heat mine to 370 for a deeper caramel flavor. Pour the hot cream into the hot caramel, CAREFULLY as this is super hot! Mixture will bubble up. Keep stirring with a long handled whisk until all the hard caramel dissapears and you have a lovely hot and delicious caramel. Pour over the chocolate. Let the chocolate sit for one minute. Stir chocolate until all of the chocolate has melted. Chill for two hours. Let rest out of fridge at least one hour at room temp. before going onto the next step.

Scrape the caramel chocolate mixture into the mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk the mixture until it becomes creamy and changes color. You will see it change color. It will look lighter brown. Do not overmix. If your mixture becomes grainy. Heat the entire mixture over a bain marie until it reaches your desired consistency. It should be like mayonnaise. 

You are now ready to spread the mixture over the cake layers. Assemble and decorate with the candied hickory nut pralines. Amazing. 



Miss you all - bliss out and eat chocolate. xoxo megan