Salted Caramel Soaked Chocolate Cake

Some of my “creations” are more like “happy accidents” in the kitchen. This particular one was inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe that took a few turns and ended up being this. But what can I say? Sometimes you get distracted by hanging out with cool people and can’t be bothered to follow directions precisely.

Despite it’s alterations from the golden standard, this cake turned out, well… divine. We had it for breakfast. Twice. After long nights staying up with girlfriends, you need a little something to get you going for the rest of the day. So eat it for breakfast. Or don’t. It’s good as a dessert, too.

Salted Caramel Soaked Chocolate Cake
For the cake
  • 1 box Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake Mix
  • Eggs, water and oil as directed on box

For the salted caramel

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold salted butter, chopped into large chunks
  • Sea salt
  • Powdered sugar (optional)
For the chocolate frosting
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  •  1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons warm water
  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Sea salt
  • 1 pound (2 2/3 cups) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare three 9-inch cake pans. Combine the cake mix as directed on the box and distribute batter evenly between the three pans. Bake as directed, about 25-28 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Prepare the caramel: in medium-sized non-stick pan, bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring only occasionally. Once the sugar is boiling, watch it carefully until it turns to a medium amber color. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the whipping cream (be careful – it will bubble up). Allow to cool for about 12 minutes and then stir in the butter chunks until completely dissolved. If the caramel is not thickening up at all, you may want to add some powdered sugar. You don’t need it to be frosting consistency, as it is meant to soak into the cake. Add sea salt to taste.

Prepare the frosting: In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and water until completely dissolved. Using a mixer on medium speed, beat butter, powdered sugar and a generous pinch of sea salt until pale and fluffy. Melt chocolate chips in a microwave proof bowl for 30 seconds, and then in 10 second intervals, stirring between each. Gradually beat the melted chocolate and then the cocoa mixture into the butter and powdered sugar mixture. Once completely combined, let stand for 30 minutes to set up.

Level the cooled cakes. (That means: take off the rounded top so that each layer fits perfectly on top of the other. You can do this with a cake leveler or a long knife.) Pour the salted caramel over each of the layers before adding the next. Use a spatula to distribute evenly. Once all the layers are assembled and the frosting is ready, frost the cake. Allow it to set for about an hour so that the caramel soaks down into the cake, making it moist and delicious. 

As you can see, the caramel soaks into the cake, it doesn’t stay on top of each layer like a filling would, so in the end it doesn’t even look like you had layers. This is the part where we started making up our own stuff very late at night and it turned out scrumptious.  However, if your caramel thickens up and doesn’t soak through, I’m fairly certain that would taste pretty awesome as well.
You could also garnish this baby with sea salt. Maybe even pink sea salt if you’re fancy.

The best part of this cake is the sweet and salty (obviously), but also that the frosting is very decadent, but paired with a lighter cake. So it really is the best of all possible worlds. You should try it.

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