Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kristen's Chocolate-Salted-Caramel-Pretzel Cake

This year, my friend Kristen Bonstein offered to make me a birthday cake. Here are the amazing results, with instructions so you can make a cake of your very own. Happy birthday, every one!

I asked Liz what flavor cake she wanted for her birthday bash and she immediately responded "anything with salted caramel!" When I asked whether that should involve white or chocolate cake, without hesitation she replied "chocolate!"  So, I knew if I ran with those two ingredients, we would have a Very Happy Liz on our hands.

Although "tablescapes" are pretty amazing, I'm no Sandra Lee.  I try to make most things from scratch, ESPECIALLY frosting.  However, cake mixes are just so damn easy and good, they are nearly impossible to screw up.  So that's what I did here.  This is a simple, fun (albeit very rich and sweet!) cake, which is made of:

  • 2 boxes of chocolate cake mix of your choice (I used Duncan Hines Devils Food)
  • The appropriate amount of eggs, water and oil as dictated on the box
  • 2 jars of caramel topping of your choice (I used Mrs. Richardson's) - one for the frosting, one for the middle layer
  • 3 sticks of SALTED butter, close to room temp but still cool
  • Up to a pound of confectioner's sugar, depending on your desired frosting texture and sweetness (I think I used a little less than that; you just have to continually taste to figure it out!)
  • 2 bags of chocolate-covered pretzels of your choice (I used dark chocolate mini Flipz) for decorating the cake 
First, following the box mix directions, use 2 half-sheet pans to bake 2 thin cake layers at the same time.

Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy with no lumps. 

Add 1/4 jar of caramel sauce. Add 1 cup confectioner's sugar. Repeat the process, tasting in-between additions, until you reach the desired consistency and sweetness level (you may use the whole jar of sauce and the whole bag of sugar; that's fine), then set aside.

Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool.

Once cakes are cool, if cakes are slightly domed, use a serrated knife to slice thinly across the top until cakes are flat.

Pour the remaining jar of caramel sauce over one of the cakes, then turn the other pan upside down on top of the first (caramel-y) cake.  If layers or corners are uneven, use the serrated knife to trim edges.

Frosting the cake: 

Use a silicone spatula to heap large hunks of frosting onto the cake before spreading it with a small, flat knife, pressing down gently rather than side to side.  If you don't do it this way, you will have chocolate cake crumbs everywhere!

Once frosting is evenly spread, use chocolate-covered pretzels to decorate as you like!  For this particular cake, "LIZ!" seemed like the obvious word choice, plus I had extra pretzels to line the edges of the cake.

If not serving cake immediately, refrigerate so frosting stays firm.

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Craving more chocolate? Check out Molly's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake or Liz Laneri's Raw Chocolate Pudding.

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