Although I do in some ways feel I need to apologise for the abundance of cake on my blog recently, I feel like I can be forgiven considering the circumstances. Although baking is, on the whole, definitely more subjective I would have to contradict that in this instance: if you do not like the sound of caramel shortbread and cake combined then, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong.
Lauren was kind enough, after asking me to make her Mum a chocolate and cherry semi-naked cake for her birthday, to request one for her brother’s as well. Although I was more than happy to help, I was a bit concerned, purely because making man-friendly cakes isn’t my forté. Take a look at the butternut squash and orange cake I made for my dad and you’ll see what I mean. Heck, I even managed to make a cookie cake girly! I have to admit that, looks wise, this cake didn’t turn out quite to plan. It’s safe to say it became one of those that you just keep chucking things at to make them look better which, unfortunately, only worked to a certain degree. But, if I do say so myself, it tasted pretty good.
The cake was made up of a plain, bog standard chocolate cake, layered with a salted caramel buttercream and sauce, then finished with some shortbread crumbs and a few dark chocolate curls. I’m also proud to say that none of the elements are lost, as proven partially by my Dad’s mind-blowing revelation, after being told what it was, that ‘if you eat them together it tastes like caramel shortbread’. Safe to say I’ve spotted the genius of the family. But the real proof eventually came as everyone seemed to really enjoy it! Even my Mum gave a shy ‘no’ when I asked if I could chuck the rest before the inevitable weight gain kicked in too much.
I will admit, however, that the chocolate cake recipe I used here wasn’t as nice as my normal one. I went for a different version purely because I was hoping for something a bit more moist and fudgy, but in some ways I wish I had stuck with my guns. Surprisingly I used a Mary Berry recipe from her baking bible and, although it was nice, I didn’t think the ingredients dispersed very well. I also made a slight mistake using a recipe that contained butter and not oil; cakes with oil are normally a lot more moist so feel free to use a recipe that does in place of the one I have included below. However, it was still a nice cake and the flavours all worked. I ended up making two cakes in the hopes that it would be enough to feed everyone at the party, but I am just going to include the quantities for the round cake, which you can double if you would like to make a tray.The only other suggestion I would make is maybe melting down the chocolate for decoration and piping a design on instead. Either way I hope you enjoy!
Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Cake
For the cake:
- 50g cocoa powder, sifted
- 6 tbsp boiling water
- 3 large eggs
- 50ml milk
- 175g self-raising flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 100g butter, at room temperature
- 275g caster sugar
For the salted caramel sauce and buttercream:
- 175g light brown soft sugar
- 300ml double cream
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 125g unsalted butter
- Icing sugar
- Approx. 50g dark chocolate
- Approx. 50g shortbread
- Preheat you oven to 180C/ 160C fan.
- Mix the cocoa powder and the hot water and then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix together until fully combined.
- Split the mixture between 2 greased and lined cake tins and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
- Make the caramel sauce by putting the sugar, cream and the 50g butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Once the ingredients have melted, turn up the heat and simmer for a few minutes while stirring to make sure the bottom doesn’t stick. Once the caramel has started to thicken add the salt and stir through. Leave to cool slightly and then taste, you may need to add more salt depending on how strong you want it to be. Leave to cool completely.
- To make the buttercream, pop the butter in a mixer with a whisk attachment and start to cream it on a low setting. Once smooth, add a generous amount of icing sugar (at least 200g) and a splash of milk and them mix together on a low speed. Once the majority of the icing sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to high and continue mixing for a few minutes until the icing becomes lighter and fluffier. Adjust the amounts of sugar and milk depending on taste and texture. Once you are happy, add in about a quarter of the caramel sauce and stir in. Taste the icing again and add more if the sauce until you are happy with the taste. If the icing has become too runny you can always add more icing sugar.
- To assemble the cake, remove the layers from their tins and even them out on top with a bread knife.
- Spread a layer of the caramel and a layer of icing in the middle and crumb coat the whole thing with buttercream. Leave for 30 minutes for the icing to set.
- In the meantime, blitz the shortbread in a food processor and shave the chocolate into small curls using a peeler.
- Coat the cake in another layer of buttercream. Once you are happy with the finish (it doesn’t need to be perfect) coat the sides with the shortbread and the top with the chocolate curls and a drizzle of caramel.