This past week I had a house full of guests—my family. It was so wonderful to finally be able to spend time with them after over two years of covid isolation. We talked, grocery shopped, and spent a lot of time cooking. I have to say it was great having so much help in the kitchen—and as usual we ate really well.
Here is what we made: homemade pizza, hamburgers, brick chicken with grilled vegetables, apple tart Tatin, French scrambled eggs, Chicken noodle soup, Leek and potato soup, Sheppard’s pie, glazed vegetables and finally orange, banana, and Grand Marnier salad for dessert.
As I’ve been researching podcasts I found an interview on the Salt+Spine podcast with Vallery Lomas about her cookbook Life is What You Bake It by podcast host Brian Hogan Stewart (episode 121). The featured recipe is one I can’t wait to try considering my passion for caramel.
You may like to try it too.
Saucepan Chocolate Cake with Creamy Caramel
Makes 1 9-inch cake
This super-chocolaty cake is so easy to prepare and so perfect in satisfying a sweet tooth that you won’t hesitate to make it even on a busy weeknight. You won’t need an electric mixer, and the frosting consists of caramel poured on top. If you don’t have instant coffee granules, you can use 1 tablespoon of strong brewed coffee, or just skip the coffee altogether.
Nonstick baking spray
1 2⁄3 cups (200g) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil
2⁄3 cup (65g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
¾ cup (180ml) water
¾ cup (180ml) buttermilk
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Creamy Caramel (see below) or store-bought caramel
For the creamy caramel
Makes 1 ½ cups
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (20g) light or dark corn syrup
½ cup water
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
4 tablespoons (55g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray.
Sift the cake flour and baking soda into a large bowl. Add the sugar and ½ teaspoon of the salt and whisk to combine.
To a medium saucepan, add the butter, oil, cocoa powder, coffee granules, and water. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the butter melts and everything comes together, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat—it’s important that the mixture doesn’t get too hot and start to boil.
Pour the cocoa mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. It will be a thick, paste-like batter, similar to box brownie mix. Touch the batter to make sure it isn’t hot (warm is okay). Stir in the buttermilk and then whisk in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla just until combined. The batter will be loose and a little liquidity. It’s important that you don’t overmix it.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean and the center is set and slightly domed, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely.
Heat the caramel in a medium heat-safe bowl in the microwave until it’s a pourable consistency, about 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Pour the caramel over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Slice and serve.
For the Creamy Caramel
Add the sugar, corn syrup, and water to a saucepan, taking care not to get any sugar on the sides of the pot. Use your index finger to swish the sugar around just enough so it is moistened with water. If you spot any sugar crystals on the side of the pot, use a wet pastry brush or towel to wipe them away. (Any stray sugar crystals on the side of the pot could start a chain reaction, causing the entire mixture to crystallize instead of caramelize.)
Set the saucepan over medium-high heat. Do not stir or otherwise agitate it. Let it cook until all the sugar dissolves and the liquid begins to bubble, at first rapidly and then slowing down, with the bubbles taking their time before they pop. Eventually, the liquid will start to turn a pale yellow, then a darker yellow, about 10 minutes.
Once the color starts to turn, it’s important to keep a very close eye on the mixture. It will transform from a pale caramel to deep caramel in just seconds, once it gets going. Continuing to cook the sugar, at around 11 minutes, begin to check the color continually by spooning a little onto a white plate. It reaches the correct color at about 11 minutes 30 seconds. (This is the color of caramel chews that the hat-wearing, cane-wielding ladies at church would give us after Sunday school.)
Have the cream and a whisk or fork nearby. When the sugar mixture is the color of caramel immediately pour the cream into the caramel a little at a time while whisking. It will sputter and create a lot of steam. Be careful not to burn yourself. (Use an oven mitt to protect the hand doing the whisking.)
Continue to whisk until the caramel is completely smooth, 1 to 1 ½ minutes. It may continue to bubble, and that’s fine.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter until it’s completely incorporated. Stir in the salt, if using. Cool at room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container.
Let me know if you make it.
This post was created prior to our site upgrade. Comments at the time of our upgrade included:
Kay Montgomery March 09, 2022
I made the chocolate cake after supper on Friday. I was motivated because I wanted a really moist chocolate cake. The cake was fun to make and by bedtime we were all having a warm piece. (I did not make the caramel, just the cake.) The next day and the day after the cake was even better. I do recommend making it the day before. Do be sure the toothpick comes out clean and you let it cool more than 10 minutes before turning the cake out of the pan. —Kay Montgomery
March 12, 2022
Kay, I’m so glad you made the cake! Thanks for the tips. I’ve been testing a lot of recipes so I thought it best to wait to make a cake I know I will not be able to resist. Definitely will follow your suggestions. Thanks —Adeline
Did you hear about my OUTRAGEOUS goal?!
Ending one year and starting a new one is an opportunity to think BIG!!!
Here Is What's Happening
I've done a lot of research on podcasts and I've found some very interesting ones.
I'm still waiting for Amazon to add pages to the 'Look Inside' button on my book Le Kitchen Cookbook. Still nothing, I have to contact them again, this is annoying Amazon.
As another winter storm is headed our way, I'm already contemplating spring (March 20th). There are a few recipes I'm really looking forward to making. One of my favorite, and a really easy recipe, is 24-hour lamb. The lamb is so tender and succulent that we never have any leftovers. I can’t recommend it highly enough. You’ll find the recipe in Le Kitchen Cookbook: a Workbook on page 204. If you get the book and want to make the lamb, feel free to email me with any questions you may have.
Le Kitchen Cookbook
Everything you need to know to be a good cook.
by Adeline M. Olmer