HCB: Chocolate Layer Cake with Caramel Ganache

It felt good to bake this weekend.  While I did cook up a storm in Vermont, it was mostly savory stuff, I did bake once and since the cabin kitchen lacked a lot of the basic equipment, I choose to do the most simply baking possible by picking this recipe.

So, when I got back, I was ready to tackle something difficult, something that would force me to use all of my bowls, KA, baking pans, and gazillion spoons and spatulas.  

Internet, I washed so many dishes over the weekend, I lost count.

But, I was happy to be back in my fully stocked kitchen.

Unfortunately, I was not very happy with this week’s Heavenly Cake choice.  Which I’m still trying to come to terms with.  I mean, come on! Chocolate and caramel? What in heaven’s name can go wrong with those two?

Around my house, apparently something.

It all started well…The cake batter is not very difficult to make, even though it may seem like it, when you read the instructions.  You start by melting the cocoa powder into water and this time, it did not form a paste as it has done in the past.  The combined water and chocolate turned into a smooth, shiny pourable liquid – A first!  Then you mix the dry ingredients, the melted chocolate, the oil, the butter and then to bring it al together the eggs and vanilla in 2 parts.  And all of this gives a pretty smooth delicious dark batter.  Place this chocolate goodness into the oven and after turning your timer to the 30-40 minutes mark, you will be rewarded with a perfect chocolate cake.

Next up the caramel ganache. Which for some can be a bit intimidating, hot sugar can hurt, so I can see how most people stay away from doing it much.

I, fortunately have passed the “scary-stage” of caramelizing sugar to make caramel; I have made it so many times in my baking that I no longer need to use a candy thermometer to check if it has reached the right temperature, in fact if I do use the thermometer I tend to screw it up.  I totally ride on the seat of my pants and simply eye-ball it to the right stage.

I’m ball-sy that way.  

On a side note here: Did you know there are 2 different kinds of basic caramel?  A wet caramel, where sugar is melted with water then cooked, and a dry caramel, where sugar is cooked by itself until it liquefies and caramelizes.  I usually like the dry caramel option, which is less-temperamental. 

In this recipe we are called to do the wet-type caramel.  Mixing the sugar and water and letting it come to boil until it turns into a rich amber color, then you add the hot cream and butter until [insert clueless look here].  I was simply lost at this stage, because after mixing in the heavy cream with the hot sugar caramel, my sauce looked more like a liquid drink than an actual sauce.  I read and re-read the instructions and the book did not give me a point of reference on what type of texture this caramel is suppose to be at during this stage, so, I simply went ahead and pour it into my chopped chocolate pieces.  Yes, I did not use the food processor, but opted for the old-fashion way.

My ganache ended up a runny and pourable sauce and NOT a spreadable frosting.  Even after the mandatory 3 hour rest time.

And this is the moment where the simple things in life can be your undoing.

I just could not figure it out. I did everything that the book called for.  I knew my ingredients were first class and fresh, so I was at a total lost.  I turned to plan “B” and place the ganache in the refrigerator hoping to have it hard up a bit to be able to frost the cake.

While it did harden up a bit, it was not to the frosting consistency.  I threw the towel and ended pouring it over the cake and gave myself a big hard “FAIL”.


Tom and the little man agree that while the cake was the right texture, with the right crumbs, the ganache was a bit on the sweet side.

As for me, this was not a favorite of mine.  I did like the taste of the ganache, but I was so disappointed in not getting the right texture – I was a bit “mad” at it.  After a day, the cake is way too crumbly and not smooth.  I had high hopes for this one, sadly I have marked it with a 2-3, meaning I doubt it would go into recipe rotation.

I could say that others HCB had better luck with this one and are singing it’s praise and you can see their efforts here.

Disclaimer: No recipes are shared in my Heavenly Cake Baker posts, due to restrictions in sharing the recipes by the publisher of Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.  But, you can purchase the book here.