A lot of you asked for the recipe for my birthday cake. It all started when I was at the cabin last month with Erin. I was looking through the supply of old Martha Stewart Living magazines and came across an article about cakes inspired from candy bars. What? Yes! That's when I saw the Chocolate Cake with Milk-Chocolate Crunch and Caramel Sauce inspired by the candy bar, 100 Grand. Chocolate and caramel is my favorite combo so I was super excited! This is definitely a "Lizzy Cake" not a "David Cake" but I figured, hey, it's my birthday I should get to choose the cake! So I ripped out the page and kept it in my book until my birthday rolled around.
sweetened condensed milk to make caramel sauce if you don't feel comfortable with a candy thermometer. However, there are two things you shouldn't change. The cake and the frosting. This may be the best chocolate frosting on earth and I'm not really much of a frosting kind of gal. Trust me, it's amazing.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup crisped-rice cereal
6 ounces milk chocolate, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons hot water
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 pound semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Make the cake: Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Sift flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely in pan.
Meanwhile, make the milk-chocolate crunch: Fold crisped-rice cereal into melted milk chocolate until completely coated. Spread mixture about 1/4 inch thick onto a baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat. Freeze until set, about 45 minutes. Chop into small pieces. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the caramel sauce: Bring granulated sugar, cream, corn syrup, and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until mixture registers 236 degrees on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and a pinch of salt. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool.
Make the frosting: Place cocoa powder in a small bowl, and stir in hot water to create a thick paste. Beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and a pinch of salt until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in melted semisweet chocolate and cocoa paste. If frosting doesn't seem firm enough, refrigerate for 10 to 12 minutes, whisking every few minutes. Let stand at room temperature until ready to use.
Assemble the cake: Turn out cakes from pan. Place bottom layer on a rotating cake stand or a large plate, and spread most of the milk-chocolate crunch on top. Gently spread 1 cup caramel sauce on top and then top with remaining cake layer.
Frost cake with a crumb coat (a thin layer of frosting to seal in stray crumbs): Gently sweep away any loose crumbs with a pastry brush, then use a small offset spatula to cover the top and sides a with a thin layer of frosting. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
Let crumb-coated cake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Frost entire cake with remaining frosting in a swirling motion using a large offset spatula. Let stand at room temperature until ready to serve (up to 8 hours). Frosting can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.