I experimented with this recipe for our New Year’s Eve dessert. It is decadent and rich and (assuming you have the time) a perfect choice for any chocoholic celebration. I found the original recipe in Elisabeth M. Prueitt’s and Chad Robertson’s cookbook, Tartine. And I really haven’t altered the ingredients – though I do add a few thoughts on making this recipe a tad more accessible to the home cook.
1 3/4 cups/250 grams All-purpose flour
4 1/2 tbsp/60 ml Cornstarch
1 tsp/5 ml Baking powder
1/2 tsp/2 ml Baking soda
1 1/4 cups/115 grams Cocoa powder
1 tsp/5 ml Salt
1 cup/225 grams Unsalted butter, room temperature
2 3/4 cups/570 grams Sugar
5 Large eggs
1 1/4 cups/310 ml Full-fat buttermilk
2/3 cup/150 ml Heavy cream
1/4 Vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups/240 grams Sugar
1/4 cup/60 ml Water
1/4 tsp/1 ml Salt
2 tbsp/30 ml Light corn syrup
3/4 tsp/4 ml Lemon juice
4 tbsp/55 grams Unsalted butter
32 oz/900 grams Dark chocolate
4 cups/750 ml Heavy cream
For the Caramel Filling: Pour the cream into a small, heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream. Place over medium-high heat and bring to almost a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat, but keep the cream warm.
In a larger, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, salt and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then cook, without stirring, for about 6-8 minutes (until the mixture is amber colored). Remove from the heat.
Carefully and slowly add the cream to the sugar syrup. It will boil vigorously at first – so be careful. Let the mixture simmer down and then whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice and let cool for another 10 or so minutes.
Cut the butter into 4 chunks and add them to the caramel one at a time, whisking constantly after each addition. Then whisk the caramel periodically as it continues to cool.
For the Cake: Preheat the oven to 350° farenheit/177° celsius. Butter and lightly flour the sides of 2 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper, cut to fit.
Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until it is light and creamy. Slowly add the sugar and beat until light in color and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and make sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Scrap down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
With the mixer now on low-speed, add the flour mixture in 3 equal batches alternating with the buttermilk in 2 batches. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Stop the mixer, scrap the sides and then mix again for a few seconds. Don’t over mix.
Divide the cake batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake until the top springs back when touched, about 45 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
When cool, Remove the cakes from their pans. If you want, use a serrated knife to cut the domes off of each cake and to also cut each cake into 2 layers (to make a 4-layer cake).
For the Ganache: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream to just under a boil and then pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes without stirring and then stir with a rubber spatula to create a smooth and shiny emulsion.
To Assemble: Place the bottom cake layer on a serving plate and add a layer of the caramel, followed by a thin layer of the ganache. Add the second layer of cake and repeat. If you are using 4 layers, you will have enough caramel for the first three layers. Once assembled, add a thin layer (crumb coat) to the top and sides of the cake and then place in the refrigerator for about an hour. Once chilled, you can add the final and pretty layer of ganache to the sides and top of the cake.
I also toasted the excess cake from my domes (the tops that I removed) in a 250º farenheit/120º celsius oven for about 1 hour and then ground the dried pieces into crumbs once the cake had cooled. I added these dried crumbs to the top and sides of the cake as a top layer to the ganache.
To make this cake simpler, I would not bother with the cutting of the layers into 4 pieces or the trimming of the domes. Just bake and frost. I would, however, keep the caramel step regardless. The caramel doesn’t take too long to pull together and the added flavor of the caramel with the chocolate cake and ganache is to die for (but then again, I used to eat a bag of Kraft caramels in one sitting while studying in grad school so obviously I like the stuff).