Chocolate Cake with Caramel, Ganache + Toasted Almonds

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Happy 2019 everyone! I made this cake for New Year’s Eve last week. We went with a light dinner of Moroccan Tuna and Couscous with vegetables in hopes of having room for this cake. And we did! Wow, it’s the best cake I’ve ever made. I love making these layer cakes but it is a crazy amount of cake for us, and it’s rich too, so I froze about three-quarters of it. The original recipe had a different type of caramel filling, which I ended up not making because I didn’t have enough time that day, but I think I would try it the next time around. I took a short cut and bought a jar of salted caramel sauce, which was ok but not as good as the caramel sauce I’ve made in the past, so below I’m linking the homemade caramel recipe. Or you can buy a jar as I did if you’re short on time. I don’t know if I messed up the Ganache or not, but even at room temp, after it had been refrigerated, it was not spreadable at all, I had to microwave it to the point where it was almost liquid again, the recipe really insists on refrigerating it overnight, so I’m not sure why that didn’t work. I don’t have enough experience working with chocolate ganache to know how that could have worked out better. But it all came together in the end. This is a cake worth fussing over, actually it’s not really that fussy it just takes a bit of time. Since I was in the cutting-corners-mode that day, I almost didn’t bother to cut it into 4 layers, it would have been much quicker to just frost the middle and top layers for a 2-layer cake, and not have to worry about the possibility of the cakes falling apart while cutting them into layers. But I knew that the layers were going to matter, so that each bite has a bit of cake, ganache, caramel, salt and toasted almonds. And it did matter. It was worth it. The cake didn’t fall apart. Happy ending. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Cake with Caramel, Ganache + Toasted Almonds

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 cup hot water

  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee

  • 1 1/4 cups almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped

Ganache Filling and Frosting

  • 1 1/2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped

  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream

Caramel Sauce 

Recipe here

Fleur de sel or any flaked sea salt

Ganache Filling and Frosting

Place chocolate in large bowl. Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate; let soften 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate is smooth. Cool, then cover and chill overnight. Ganache can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before using. (Note: even at room temp my frosting wasn’t spreadable and I needed to warm it up a bit)

Cake

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each with parchment paper; butter paper and dust pan with flour.

Sift sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Add milk, eggs, and melted butter. Using electric mixer, beat at low speed until blended. Increase speed and beat 2 minutes. Stir 1 cup hot water and espresso powder in small bowl to dissolve. Add to batter; beat until blended (batter will be thin). Divide batter between pans (about 3 cups each).

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 32 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Refrigerate cakes for an hour or two, it will make it much easier to cut them into layers. Using a long serrated knife, cut each cake around the perimeter in half so that you have 4 layers. (if you don’t have fancy baking tools to do this, like me, you can put the cake on a round metal sheet, like the bottom of a tart pan, place on top of an upside-down bowl that’s large enough to support it, hold your knife in the middle where you want to cut and spin the cake around slowly, keep doing this until it has cut all the way through, keeping your knife in a steady position)

Place 1 layer on platter; spread with 1/2 cup room-temperature ganache. Drizzle 1/4 cup room-temperature caramel sauce. Sprinkle caramel with large pinch of fleur de sel, then 1 tablespoon almonds. Top with second cake layer, ganache, caramel sauce, fleur de sel, and almonds. Repeat with third cake layer. Top with fourth cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining ganache over top and sides of cake. Press remaining almonds onto the top, or sides (or both!). Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Honey Chocolate Fudge

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Healthy fudge!? For real? A few weeks ago Sprouted Kitchen started a Cooking Club. I like Sarah’s recipes and thought it would be fun to join, so I did. Each week she provides a shopping list and recipes for three meals and a snack. This is one of the snacks. As with most of her recipes it’s pretty healthy and made with natural ingredients. This is the second time I’ve made it. The first time I made it I used whole raw almonds, here I made it with toasted almond slivers. I definitely prefer toasted almonds.

It’s not exactly like fudge but similar and I like it better in a lot of ways. She said the recipe was created and inspired by Honey Mamas fudge which is made right here in Portland! You can check our their site to get some ideas on variations, adding coconut, peppermint or spices. Enjoy :)

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Honey Chocolate Fudge

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, well chopped

  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds 

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch) or raw cacao, plus more for dusting

  • pinch of sea salt

  • 1/3 cup honey 

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup crisp rice cereal

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate along the bottom of the pan. 

In a food processor or a strong blender, combine the almonds, cocoa powder and sea salt. Pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse sand, about 10 times. You want some crunchy bits of almonds. 

In a saucepan, combine the honey and coconut oil and bring it to a gentle boil. Stir to mix. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Add the almond mixture and the rice cereal into the wet mixture and stir to combine. Any extra add-ins would go in here (coconut, seeds or more nuts). Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, smooth the top and put it in the fridge to cool for at least an hour. Store refrigerated or a very cool place.

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