Ah, fall. So they say. I think it’s about 90 outside, so right now it’s just fall in my mind. Last year about this time it was all about butter pecan…this year? Caramel! I stumbled over a recipe for caramel cake. Now, caramel cake is an old southern favorite. However, I had never made one. Ever. So last week I gave it a try and it turned out great.
But you know I can’t just leave it alone. I was thinking to myself, ‘self? You know what would be really, really good with this caramel?’ And self says, ‘well, heck, almost anything. Pretzels, popcorn, apples, rice crispy treats…I mean, anything!’ And I says back to self, ‘yeah, but think about chocolate cake bathed in this caramel!’
Well, the more I thought about it – and I did think about it A LOT, I decided that that would be a very, very rich cake. So I decided to try something else I’ve never tried before – a checkerboard cake. Here are the recipe links for both cakes, and the caramel icing:
Okay now we’re set. Let’s do this!
First off, I made the vanilla cake layers from the Caramel Cake recipe. Don’t be afraid of all that vanilla. This makes a perfect crumb vanilla cake. Second, make the chocolate layers. Since finding this recipe I’ve probably made it half a dozen times and it’s great every.single.time. My favorite part is the way the batter fluffs almost into a mousse.
Now, origami time! I’m sure there is some fancy shmancy tool to help you cut the circles, but I did a little geometry and math and stuff, and came up with this:
Now because these cakes have slightly different textures, and because I probably SHOULD have used some previously mentioned fancy shmancy tool, my circles didn’t fit entirely snugly. Meh. More caramel in-between, I say….win/win. However, I did find out that you need to do a quick turn in the freezer once you have the layers cut, and then trim the tops. The first cake, the ‘tester’, was pretty ugly. The second one is better, but I still topped it with both sea salt and brickle chips. I mean, why not?
Now, the caramel. The recipe is well written, the caramel is divine. BUT – 15-20 minutes? Try 45-50 minutes! Just take your time, it will come together. The first round with this caramel last weekend prompted me to buy a candy thermometer. SETTLE DOWN NOW, MARTHA. It’s not a big deal. $5 at hellmart, and super easy to use. Get one. You’re an adult now, you should already have one.
Assembly: pour about 1/4 of the caramel on the bottom layer. Ease it to the edge of the layer. Put on the next layer and repeat. Same with the last layer- then after you spread it to the edge, pour that last bit of caramel on top. Sorry, no, that was not for you to dip your fingers in. Make your own for that! Top with sea salt flakes. Add the brickle, don’t add the brickle, whatever, but the salt really does add that final something.
Try this cake. All vanilla, all chocolate, some combination – but try it. It is well worth the effort. Enjoy!