A totally adorable, amazingly delicious little cake. It wasn’t a wedding cake.
A couple of weeks ago a friend decided to get married, super low key, only a few people, outside, no reception, no cost. We were supposed to go be witnesses. I thought I would surprise them with a cake. Helllooo? Have you met me? I bake. A lot. Somehow they found out and something happened where they decided they didn’t want a cake.
Ummmmmmmm…ok? Who turns down a free wedding cake? But whatever, no hard feelings. It was their day and what they want they get. I totally wrapped some in foil and snuck it home with the groom. I’m pretty sure they were thanking me later.
As soon as I found out, I decided I was still making the cake. I had a plan, I had ideas. And I already spent $20 on mini cake pans. There would be a wedding cake. It just wouldn’t be attending a wedding.
The bottom tier is a chocolate cake that is filled with caramel and a milk chocolate crunch. Think candy bar. It was inspired by this Martha Stewart cake I made last year. There are three layers in this tier and the second layer is filled with fudge buttercream.
The middle tier is a caramel cake, with three layers. The first is filled with the fudge buttercream and caramel. The second is salted caramel buttercream.
The whole cake gets slathered with salted caramel buttercream. Then it gets decorated with the fudge buttercream.
This whole process was easier then I expected. Possibly due to the small scale of the cake. Or maybe I’m just awesome. That’s a joke in case you can’t sense the sarcasm in written form. I enjoy sarcasm a little too much.
Making a cake for a 200 person wedding I don’t see being as simple. Where would I store the layers? How would I transport it? I’m pretty sure larger cakes involve dowels and other such nonsense to keep them together. That sounds like crazy talk.
But this wedding cake was perfectly adorable. They totally could have taken it home and eaten themselves into a sugar coma after their wedding. Instead we ate it ourselves, I gave some to friends and brought some to work. There was so much damn cake for such a small cake!!
The wedding was great. There were 8 people there, including the bride, groom and minister (who happens to be my BFF Karl, and also the officiant at my own wedding). It was at this beautiful mill in the hills of the river valley about an hour from town. It was drizzling all day, but seemed to stop just long enough for the ceremony. She cried, I teared up, they got married. And that was it. I’ve been to two weddings this summer. The first I spent 7 hour at. This one was 30 minutes total. It was kind of awesome.
We went home and I disassembled the cake and cut it. It was candy bar like elegance. It was simple and decadent. I totally should have made my own wedding cake. Wait that’s insane, who does that?
Here’s how it all came together.
Four days before the wedding I made the caramel sauce. Super easy. Into squeeze bottles it went.
Two days before I made the cakes. As soon as they were cool I wrapped them as tight as possible in plastic wrap and put them in zip lock bags in the fridge. I leveled the cakes in the pans before doing this.
That same day I also made the milk chocolate crunch. That was super simple.
The day of I made the frosting, cut the cakes into layers and assembled and frosted the cakes.
I did everything as I would have, had I been taking the cake to the actual wedding. Once completed I put the whole cake in the fridge to allow the frosting to set.
When I took it apart to cut it, I simply lifted each layer off of the cake and cut them. I stored them in zip lock bags in the fridge, and took the cake out 15 minutes before I wanted to eat it. Trust this, the caramel gets all oozy, the frosting softens…it’s a gooey delicious mess. That’s a lie, it’s not messy, and it stayed together quite well.
So I made my first wedding cake. I think it turned out pretty well. I’m not about to go offering to do cakes for huge weddings, but this one was a delicious success. And I checked something off of my 30 by 30 list! Go me!
Chocolate Caramel Wedding Cake
A few notes on this recipe: I had left over batter. You might too, depending on the size cake pans you use. I simply poured my extra batter into a loaf pan. I also ended up with extra caramel, milk chocolate crunch and frosting. These all went on top on the loaf cake when cooled. It looked like a giant candy bar. So use your extras any way you choose!
When cutting the cake, disassemble it first. Don’t try to cut the cake as a whole, it gets complicated and doesn’t work out well.
Lastly, this cake tastes really delicious with coffee. I highly recommend it.
For the chocolate cake:
1 cup coffee
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 whole milk
2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks of butter softened
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
For the caramel cake:
1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 stick plus 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup caramel sauce
For the frosting:
5 egg whites
1 cup of sugar
4 sticks of butter, softened
6 ounces of semi sweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the milk chocolate crunch:
6 ounces milk chocolate
1 cup crisped rice cereal
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 3 cake pans, you can use a variety of shapes, sizes and types. You want to make enough cake to have layers and tiers as well.
2. Make the chocolate cakes: Brew 1 cup of strong coffee. Mix cocoa powder in with coffee until dissolved. Once cooled add milk. In another bowl mix flour, and baking soda. In a mixer using the paddle attachment cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs one at a time until well blended. Add flour mixture and coffee mixture alternating, starting and ending with flour.
5. Make the caramel cake: Whisk together flours, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Stir milk and vanilla in another small bowl. Beat butter in mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Add sugar slowly while mixing. Beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, mixing after each addition. Scrape bowl and beat until smooth. Reduce speed and slowly add 1/3 of flour mixture. Alternate adding milk mixture and flour mixture until all ingredients added. Add caramel sauce.
5. Pour into cake pans, filling 3/4 full. Place pans on cookie sheet and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Times will vary based on cake pan size. The timing I use goes a little like this: 20 minutes for smaller cake pans and 40 minutes for larger cake pans. Just watch them, and keep a toothpick handy. It’s not that hard. I promise.
6. Meanwhile make the milk chocolate crunch. Melt chocolate in microwave safe bowl in 20-second increments until smooth. Fold in cereal. Pour into thin even layer on a cookie sheet. Transfer to fridge until set. Break into small pieces.
7. Make the frosting. Using a heat proof mixing bowl, whisk egg whites and sugar over 1 inch of simmering water until mixture reaches 160 degrees. Transfer to mixer and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to high and beat another 6 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Add butter a tablespoon at a time, until completely incorporated, and frosting is light and fluffy. Remove 1/3 of frosting. Melt chocolate sauce in microwave safe bowl, in 20-second increments until smooth. Cool slightly. Fold into 1/3 of frosting. Add 1/3 cup of caramel and salt to remaining 2/3’s of frosting. Mix until completely incorporated.
8. Once cooled place cakes in the freezer for about 20 minutes. This makes them much easier to slice. Slice the bottom two tiers into thirds, and the top in half. Start with the bottom tier first, fill the first layer with as much caramel as you desire, I used about 1/3 cup. Top the caramel with your milk chocolate crunch, I used a third of my crunch. Place the second tier on top and make sure it seems level. Spread the next tier with fudge buttercream. Place top layer on and again make sure it is level. Frost entire tier lightly with salted caramel buttercream. This is your crumb coat. It’s messy. It catches all of the loose crumbs so your final layer of frosting is nice and smooth. Place tier in fridge.
9. Assemble the second tier. This is your caramel cake. Fill the bottom layer with caramel and milk chocolate crunch. Again I used a little under 1/3 cup of caramel and a third of the crunch. Place the second layer on top of the bottom layer. Frost with fudge buttercream. Place third layer on top. Frost entire tier with a crumb coat of caramel buttercream. Put this tier in the fridge as well.
10. Assemble your final tier. Fill the layer with salted caramel buttercream, caramel and milk chocolate crunch. Frost with crumb coat of caramel buttercream. Again, put this tier in the fridge.
11. Starting with the bottom tier, after it has been refrigerated until set, about 20 minutes, frost with the final layer of frosting. Make sure it is as smooth as possible, and then place back in the fridge for another 20 minutes. Repeat with each tier. Once each tier is set, take a small amount of frosting and dollop in the middle of each tier. Align each tier on top of the next until they are level and even. Return to the fridge for another 20 minutes.
12. Using your remaining fudge buttercream, pipe swirl, or vine patterns over entire cake. Take some artistic license and do whatever you want. One more stint in the fridge and your cake is ready to go!