Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Little Caramel For Carmel - Fleur de Sel Caramel Filled Cake

Our story begins back in 2008, with the release of the September issue of Bon Appètit. There was an exposé on the "Vanilla Bake Shop" in Santa Monica, CA. Up for consideration was this completely decadent chocolate cake filled with Fleur de Sel Caramel all topped off with a rich Ganache.

Sounded completely and totally delectable! But I knew that I would never actually eat it, so I never made it. That is until my friend Ken's Birthday. He had no idea what kind of cake he wanted, so I whipped out my handy dandy copy of Bon Appètit and said, "How bout THIS one?"

So I made it, and it was a big hit. I even ate a whole piece myself. The Fleur de Sel Caramel really "kicks it up a notch".

Well, there is another Birthday out there. Carmel, the wife of my parent's pastor, is having a birthday. Well, to be honest, she already had her Birthday... I am just running about 1 month behind. LOL

Since she loves both chocolate and caramel, I decided that it would be a good idea to whip out this recipe again. Cause it really is awesome.

The Original Recipe and instructions can be found here at the Bon Appètit site. As I have re-written this according to my experiences, along with changing a couple of ingredients.

Fleur de Sel Caramel Filled Cake

20 oz 58% or higher Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 cups Heavy Cream

Caramel Filling
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Water
2 TB Clover Honey
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
4 TB Unsalted European Butter, diced
4 TB Crème Fraîche
3/4 tsp Meyer lemon juice
Large pinch of fine fleur de sel plus additional for assembly

Chocolate Cake
2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 3/4 cups AP Flour
3/4 cup Natural Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp Aluminum Free Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Kosher Salt
2 large Eggs
8 TB unsalted European Butter, melted
1 cup Hot Water
1 TB Espresso Powder
1 cup Whole Milk
1 1/4 cups Almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Make the Ganache first, so you can put it in the refrigerator to chill a little. I have already gone over Ganache once before, and while this will not be a poured ganache, the proportions are the same for a spreadable ganache - 1 to 1. I chose to combine 2 of my favorite chocolates. Scharffen Berger and Dagoba.

Both contain only Cocoa mass, Sugar, Cocoa Butter...

Look Ma! No milk solids. ;)

20 oz 58% or higher Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 cups Heavy Cream

Place chopped chocolate in large bowl.

Pour cream into a small sauce pan. (Just for fun I weighed it, coincidentally 2.5 cups is 20 oz)

Bring cream to simmer over medium-low heat, to prevent scorching.

Pour cream over chocolate; let it sit for 2 minutes - NO touching,

just let them hang out together.

Begin whisk in the center of the bowl....

Then slowly....

but surely

it will come together in a dark velvety smooth deliciousness.

Cool, then cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator to finishign firming up a little while.....

you make the Caramel sauce..... This is a "wet" caramel, meaning it starts with water. These are usually more fool-proof than "dry" caramels, which start with only sugar. I wanted to make it extra special, so I went and purchased some cultured European Butter to use in both the caramel and the cake.

1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Water
2 TB Clover Honey
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
4 TB Unsalted European Butter, diced
4 TB Crème Fraîche
3/4 tsp Meyer lemon juice
Large pinch of fine fleur de sel

Stir Sugar, Water, and Honey in deep saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves.

Raise the heat to medium and place the cover over the pan, cooking for 4 minutes. (This allows the steam to wash the crystals from the side of the pan)

Remove the cover and allow it to boil until it becomes a dark amber color.

Remove from heat and add the cream, very carefully

Cause it will bubble up on you. mixture will bubble.

Stir in the butter....

and the crème fraîche.

Lastly, add the meyer lemon juice and pinch of fleur de sel.

Pour into a small bowl and set aside to cool while.....

you make cake......

Preheat to 350°F.
Butter the bottom only, of two 9-inch cake pans.

Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds....

Then Butter and Flour the parchment, then set aside.

You will need to collect the rest of the ingredients, cause this cake goes together fairly quickly.

So, sift Sugar, Flour, Cocoa Powder, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt into the bowl of your mixer.

Whisk the Eggs.

Melt the Butter.

Mix the Espresso Powder and Hot Water together.

And measure out the Milk... OK, Your ready to go. Let's Make Cake!

Start the mixer on Low speed (so you don't have a flour bomb going off in your face.)

Add the milk first,

then the beaten eggs,

and melted butter mixing until just blended.

Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes; until it becomes slightly "fluffy" looking.

Lower the speed of the mixer and add the espresso/Hot water; beating until blended (the batter will be really thin).

Divide the batter between the pans (about 3 1/4 cups in each pan).

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30 - 35 minutes.

Cool cakes on a rack for 10 minutes.

Cut around cakes with a knife or offset spatula and

turn out onto racks, peeling off parchment to cool them completely.

Once the cakes are cooled, it's time for assembly.......

Grab the Fleur de Sel, cause you need it again, for the assembly.
Grab the Ganache from the refrigerator..... Stir it a few times to makes sure it is of spreadable texture...

Place 1 1/4 cups of sliced almonds on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned and toasty smelling, then set aside to cool.

Place 3/4 cup of the ganache in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch round tip

Cut each cake horizontally in half with a large serrated knife, or one of those nifty cakes saws.
Place a small dollop of ganache on the cake board or your cake plate to hold the cake in place.

Place the 1st layer on the board/platter and spread 1/2 cup of the ganache over the surface.

Pipe a ring of ganache around edge of the layer.

Spread 1/4 cup of the caramel filling evenly inside ring.

Sprinkle caramel with large pinch of fleur de sel;

then sprinkle with about 1 TB of the toasted almonds.

Top with a second cake layer then repeat the above steps -- ganache, ganache ring, caramel filling, fleur de sel, and almonds. Make sure to place the very top layer cut side down, then spread the remaining ganache over top and sides of cake.

Press remaining almonds onto sides.

Cover with cake dome and chill.

Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour before consuming.




Patti T. said...

Oh my goodness, does that Ever sound yummy!! I just adore sweet and salty together. Mmmmmmmm. (Pssssst my birthday is in July.)

DDpie said...

Ok, this just ain't fair, not fair at all!!! I want some waaaaaah. (and look at you, goin' all pro with your cake pan prep and assembly LOL)

Aline said...

OK, I'll make the stupid question (but I know you're a very good teacher ;p ): what's the difference between "European" butter and "American" butter?

Shane T. Wingerd said...

Patti - Thanks for the heads up... I will try to figure out how to get you one. ;)

DD - HA HA HA Thanks DD I am glad you approve... I thought of you while I was sifting... ;)

Aline - European butter has a higher fat content and usually has a bacterial culture added to it, to increase it's acidity and extend shelf life. This gives is a little bit of a tang. Where American butter contains more water and is usually heavily salted, though it is available in unsalted versions. There is a definite flavor difference, so I switch when Butter becomes a noticeable "Flavor" in the finished product. Like Madeleines, Shortbread, Toffee or Caramels.

Aline said...

Thanks a lot, Shane! :D

Dajana said...

My eyes and heart are aching from just looking at this beauty, it's not fair, I want just a slice, one little tiny slice, the whole cake would kill me for sure (although, I'm the cake killer, actually :))))

Unknown said...

if i say it's my birthday (even if it's not) will you make me one of these? the girls at work said I should make it...but I'm scared. but that caramel feeling....ooooh eeeem geeeeeeeeee!!!