Remember when I told you I had never baked a cupcake? Well … now I can officially say that I’ve never successfully baked a cupcake on my own. How many ways could I have messed it up? How much time do you have?
The cake-baking started out innocently enough, with me realizing halfway through the process that I need an electric mixer and running to Duane Reade to get one. Then I overfilled the cupcake tins (we only had mini-cupcake tins) and watched them expand to form one gigantic cupcake-sized blob.
The best part? They were completely cemented to the tin. As in glued. Unbudgeable. Mili and I had to scoop pieces of them out of the tin with a spoon. The cake was too crumbly and soft for any kind of real shape. Given that I still had a TON of leftover batter, I decided to stop playing the cupcake game and just bake the rest of the batter in a 9-inch cake pan.
Then there was the whole salted caramel frosting part of the cake. Making the caramel made me nervous, but everything seemed to be going swimmingly. Until. My spatula, which I assumed was heatproof, actually melted in the caramel. Thankfully it tasted okay. (carcinogens = yum?)
The frosting finally came together in one overly sweet, sticky mess. Unfortunately, when I tried to drape it on the crumby cake, everything fell to pieces. I managed to squish it all back together, but then there was the question of the cupcake crumbs. I scattered them in a heart-shape (for Valentine’s Day!) but I have a pile of crumbs left. And an almost saccharine cake that somehow isn’t quite the chocolate-salted caramel pairing I imagined.
But the cake is ridiculously cute (and let’s be real, it’s still pretty tasty) and so, I present it to you, in hopes that you can fix it. Perhaps with your Valentine!
Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake
Adapted from Cinnamon Girl Recipes
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/3 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
– 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1-1/3 cups sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2 eggs
– 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
– 1 cup milk, at room temperature
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 2 9-inch cake pans.
2) Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
3) Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until it is creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl occasionally.
4) Beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the cooled chocolate.
5) Alternate adding the flour and milk in four additions, beginning and ending with the flour and beating only until just incorporated.
6) Halve the batter among the cake pans. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick in middle shows a few moist crumbs.
7) Cool in cake pan for 10 minutes. Then turn the pans out onto a wire rack and allow the cakes to cool completely. If you’re a great plan-aheader and are making the cakes in advance, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them.
For the frosting:
– 4 ounces (1 stick) butter
– 1 cup packed brown sugar
– 3/4 cup milk, divided
– 3 cups powdered confectioners’ sugar, plus a little extra if needed
– 1/4 teaspoon salt (or 1/2 teaspoon, if you’re using a flaky sea salt)
1) In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar. Heat the mixture to boiling, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to low. (Make sure you’re using a heatproof spatula for this.)
2) Stir the mixture for 2 minutes, then stir in 1/2 cup of the milk. Heat the mixture to boiling and allow to boil for a minute before removing from the heat. Cool the caramel to lukewarm, about 30 minutes.
3) Pour the caramel into a large mixing bowl gradually stir in powdered sugar and milk. Beat with an electric hand mixer on low, about 6 minutes until light and fluffy. If it’s too stiff, add milk a teaspoon at a time to get the right consistency. If it’s too watery, add additional powdered sugar, beating on low until it reaches the right consistency.
4) Store the frosting in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to help it firm up.
Frost the cake:
1) Unwrap one of the cake layers and place on a cake plate. Apply a layer of frosting on top, then carefully place the second layer on top of the frosting.
2) Frost the top and sides of the cake carefully. It’s easiest to do this by starting with a thin layer of frosting, to catch any crumbs, and then, with a clean spatula, applying a thicker final layer of frosting.