Tag Archives: del mar fair

Chocolate Caramel Layer Cake

Although the cake looks dense each layer is very light and so is the filling. I hate frosting cakes and the ganache frosting in this recipe is easy to apply. The recipe is based on the Fine Cooking Cinnamon-Caramel-Ganache Layer Cake.

Makes 1 cake (about 12 servings).



  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons + ¼ cups water
  • 4 ½ ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup sugar


  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 6 tablespoons cool water


  • 1 ½ ounces unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup lukewarm + ½ cup cool water
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 6 ounces cake flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten



  1. Bring the cream, salt and 2 tablespoons of water to a simmer.
  2. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and set a strainer over it.
  3. Pour ¼ cup water in a 3-quart saucepan. Pour the sugar in the center of the pan and pat it down until it is evenly moistened. Cover pan and cook over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves (2 – 4 minutes). Uncover and cook without stirring until the syrup begins to color (about 1 minute). Reduce heat to medium and cook until the caramel turns red-amber (about 1 – 2 minutes). If the syrup colors unevenly swirl the pan gently. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cream mixture. Return to low heat and simmer stirring constantly until the caramel is completely dissolved (1 – 3 minutes).
  4. Pour the caramel cream through the strainer. Whisk until the chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Scrape into a wide shallow bowl, cover loosely, cool and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (at least 4 hours and up to three days).


  1. Put the chocolate, butter, corn syrup and salt in a metal bowl set over barely simmering water. Stir gently until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.
  2. Take the bowl off the water and stir in water. Let cool and thicken without stirring at room temperature for at least three hours (the consistency should be like chocolate pudding).


  1. Line the bottom of three 9×2-inch round cake pans with parchment. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a bowl whisk cocoa powder and lukewarm water. In another bowl mix buttermilk and cool water. In a third bowl whisk flour, baking soda and salt and sift them three times.
  3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter on medium speed until creamy (15 seconds). Add the white and brown sugars gradually while beating until the mixture lightens in color and appears sandy but fluffy (5 minutes). Add the eggs slowly over the course of one minute. Continue to beat for a few more seconds until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Stop the mixer and add the cocoa mixture. Beat on medium speed until just combined. Stop the mixer and add one-quarter of the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until just incorporated. Stop the mixer and add one-third of the buttermilk. Repeat, scraping the bowl as needed, until all the flour and buttermilk have been added.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among the three pans. Bake 17 – 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes for five minutes and then turn on to racks, remove the parchment and cool completely.

Assemble Cake

  1. Beat the chilled filling in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment at medium speed until very thick and stiff enough to hold it’s shape but still spreadable (1 – 2 minutes). Put a cake layer upside down on a cake circle and spread half the filling evenly all the way to the edge of the layer. Top with a second upside down layer and gently press in place. Spread the remaining filling on the second layer. Top with the third layer, also upside down. Smooth any filling that protrudes from the sides.
  2. With an offset spatula spread a thin crumb-coat layer of frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Put cake in refrigerator for 10 minutes to set the crumb-coat. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
  3. Garnish as desired.

Entries for the San Diego County Fair

May 5 is the deadline for Home and Hobby fair entries so I put mine in tonight to make sure I don’t forget. I spend all year evaluating my baked goods and improving them so that I can enter them in the fair. Then with a frenzy of cooking (I spent 24 hours straight, except for sleeping, baking my entries last year) I deliver them and wait.

Here is the list of what I am entering in the fair this year:

Babka: An Eastern European Dessert Bread

This Eastern European recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. It was one of my favorite bakery treats growing up. It had an exotic blend of chocolate and cinnamon mixed with the yeastiness of bread that I found addictive. It’s great with coffee. Wrap the cooled babka in plastic wrap and it will last a week.

Makes 3 loaves.



  • 1 1/2 cups milk, 110 °
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar (divided into 3/4 cup and 1 cup)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature (divided into 2 eggs and 1 egg)
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature divided into 1 cup (2 sticks) and 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 2 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream


  • 1 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter


  1. Pour milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks.
  3. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt.
  5. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated.
  6. Change to the dough hook. Add 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated and make a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.
  7. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth.
  8. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray, place dough in bowl and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  9. Place chocolate, remaining 1 cup sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Using a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter until well combined.
  10. Spray three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans with cooking spray and line them with parchment paper.
  11. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon heavy cream to make an egg wash.
  12. Punch down the dough and let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece.
  13. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.
  14. Crumble 1/3 of the chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border.
  15. Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist several times. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Bend roll in half (like a horseshoe). Fold right half of the roll over onto the left half. Crumble 2 tablespoons of filling over the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.
  16. Heat oven to 350° .
  17. Make topping by mixing the confectioners’ sugar with flour and cutting in the butter with a pastry cutter.
  18. Brush the top of each loaf with the egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  19. Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 minutes more.
  20. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve.