Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I made this cake for a Christmas party the other night and it was a big hit. This is the kind of thing I love to make for Christmas parties. Decadent and rich- the perfect kind of thing to serve to a lot of people, so everyone gets a little slice of paradise. (Confidence.) Actually, I was pretty relieved when people liked it. It was a new recipe and the frosting was a ganache and really hard to work with. Next time I will definitely use this recipe instead. I wasn't sure how good it would taste or if the cake was going to be moist enough so I didn't bother taking a picture of it before it was cut into pieces. But then I looked and there was only a couple pieces left so I hurried and took this super crappy picture. I was glad for the almonds on the side and it was my friend Marie who suggested piping whipped cream on top to cover some of the unsightly blemishes on the top of the cake. (And the whipped cream was a nice addition to the cake anyway.) It actually looked really pretty covered with all those almonds and whipped cream. So if you want to impress your friends, bring this to your next holiday party! Oh, and as for the fleur de sel- I had some sea salt in my cupboard, but I completely forgot to add that to the caramel layers. I did add a large pinch of it to the caramel, though.

Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling



  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Large pinch of fine fleur de sel* plus additional for assembly


  • 1 1/2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream


  • 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



  • Stir sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in deep medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; cover pan and cook 4 minutes. Uncover; increase heat to high. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, occasionally brushing down pan sides with wet pastry brush, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Whisk in butter, then crème fraîche, lemon juice, and pinch of fleur de sel. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.


  • 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. DO AHEAD Ganache can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.


  • 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. Cut around cakes; turn out onto racks. Peel off parchment and cool completely.
  • Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 layer on platter; spread with 1/2 cup room-temperature ganache. Spoon 3/4 cup ganache into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch plain round tip. Pipe ring of ganache around edge of layer. Spread 1/4 cup room-temperature caramel filling evenly inside ring. Sprinkle caramel with large pinch of fleur de sel, then 1 tablespoon almonds. Top with second cake layer, ganache, ganache ring, caramel filling, 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 sides. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour.
  • *A type of sea salt; available at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.


Christine said...

Hi- I have made this before and I also found that the ganache and caramel were very hard to work with. I just slightly warmed them in the microwave and it seemed to make them far more spreadable. I have also make cupcakes with this recipe. I frost the tops with ganache then drizzle the caramel over and sprinkle with salt. So yummy.

Katherine said...

Thanks for the tip!

valerie said...

Looks super good!! Love your recipes Katherine!

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