I’ll state it up front. This three-layer cake from my favorite local bakery, Baked, isn’t for beginners. The cake recipe is a fairly simple devil’s food, but the filling and frosting call for home-made caramel. And since the filling is salt caramel, while the frosting is not, there’s no getting around having to make two batches. Not really difficult in itself, but timing, a watchful eye, and a good candy thermometer are key. (Hint: be sure to read the recipe through carefully before beginning or you’ll miss some steps. I’ve twice forgotten to let the caramel for the frosting cool a bit before whipping it with chocolate and butter, so the frosting stays a little soft and the cake has to be refrigerated to keep it from getting too melty.)
Don’t plan to do much else the day you bake this one. Even Martha Stewart would cop out on the process. During a demo with the bakers on her show, she asked, “How much do you charge for this cake? It might be worth it.” When Martha Stewart admits something is complicated. . .
Still, adventurous bakers who can’t make it to Baked for a slice should give it a try. Your guests will be moaning with delight. Guaranteed. And for all your trouble, the cake can be done up into cupcakes, and it also freezes incredibly well. Cut leftover cake into slices, wrap individually with waxed or parchment paper, and then with plastic or foil. It’s particularly satisfying to be able to pull out a slice when one of those massive chocolate attacks strikes.
I also had leftover caramel and frosting. The salted caramel makes a great topping for ice cream. Any remaining frosting was popped into a freezer bag and pulled out a few days later for a different batch of chocolate cupcakes. Some toasted coconut was stirred in for a dreamy frosting with the chocolate/caramel/coconut taste of a candy bar.