December 8, 2009

Sweet and Salty or the Best Birthday Cake Ever

I am not the world's best gift giver. I certainly know people who are, like an old roommate, who put incredible amounts of thought and love into what they give you. Presents that don't go in the "thanks for buying me crap I'll never use" category. Given half a chance, I would rather gift you with baked goods. That is where I really shine, and can direct all my love, energy, time and ingredients into treating you with something special.
Nic's birthday happened while she was on her honeymoon in Italy, and was thusly ignored. If you're in Italy, no whining about a birthday celebration. Nic and I are champions of waiting eons to give the other a birthday present. I'm still waiting on a certain handmade birthday dress from two years ago that was absolutely beautiful, but was more optimistic about my actual size than I am. So a few weeks after said birthday, I made a promise to bake something combining her new favorites: salt and chocolate.

With deep, dark chocolate nothing brings out the flavor like the sharp contrast of salt that brings the vanilla, coffee, true chocolate flavor forth. I had zero idea of where I was going to go with a baked good, but a quick trip found Sweet and Salty cake. After obsessively reading food blogs for a long, long time, I was definitely familiar with the guys of Baked and their awesome desserts. A bakery in Brooklyn, Baked is home to the Sweet and Salty cake, moist chocolate cake soaked in salted carmel sauce with whipped carmel ganache frosting. And a sprinkle of fleur de sel to...gild the lily? I'm pretty sure its already gilded and dipped in gold so we'll just call it garnish.

So naturally, I decided to make it. Which meant that I took the basic idea and bastardized it. I choose to make this in an afternoon, which meant way faster than the original. Three separate recipes jumped into to create a substitute. Also, the Whisk Away kitchen is decidedly low-tech at the moment. A candy thermometer or even instant read meat thermometer would enable you to make the real carmel meant for this cake, whereas I chose Deep, Dark Salted Carmel Sauce from Smitten Kitchen (hey Deb! huge fans here)

Here's what I did:
Sweet and Salty Cupcakes

Serves 12. Supposedly.

1. Cake:

Molly Wizenberg's chocolate cake recipe. Its in her fabulous book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen. Or any other fabulous chocolate cake recipe that makes 12 cupcakes.

2. Bake the cupcakes as directed.
3. Let them cool for 30-45 min.

In the mean time make this:

4. Salted Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup sugar
6 tbl salted butter- go all out for this, I chose Plugra
1/2 cup heavy cream + 2 tbl at room temperature

1. Melt the sugar in a large pot, probably 2-3 quarts over medium to medium low heat. Be careful at this point, sugar is picky. Wait for the outside edges to melt, then pull them towards the center with a wooden spoon. Soon the whole mixture will melt. Cook until a nice dark color, just before burnt.
2. Add the butter all at once. The caramel will foam vigorously, but stir through it. It shall be calm.
3. Turn off the heat and add the cream, stirring energetically throughout to make a smooth sauce.
4. At this point, its very pourable. Wait for it to cool to a thicker consistency to pour over the cupcakes. The remaining sauce can be stored in the fridge for about 2 weeks, and heat gently in the microwave to restore to pouring consistency.

5. Soak Cakes:
I poked holes in the cupcakes with a fork, then spooned caramel down over the tops. Let soak in, then add more.
Let cool completely.

6. Frost:
Chocolate Caramel Ganache
8 oz. chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup heavy cream

Few tablespoons of Salted Caramel Sauce

1. Over medium low heat, gently heat the cream until small bubbles appear around the edges.
2. Place the chopped chocolate in bowl, and pour cream over.
3. Stir until well combined, then add a few tablespoons of caramel, to flavor. Let cool completely, to a thick spreadable consistency.

4. Sprinkle a few flakes of fleur de sel over the top, or Trader Joe's Sea Salt.

Split one with you sister, "just to try them." Then go home and eat another one, because you never were good at sharing.


Viagra said...

not only delicious, is so easy and cheap prepare this recipe, and as a something different, for celebrate a birthday party, in this way you don't bother about cutting the cake.