You read that right. And if you have already tried the flavor explosion of mixing your salty with your sweet, then I bet you want to know more. Words can't do it justice, so I'll give the blueprint: layers of deep chocolate cake layered with a hearty smear of homemade fleur de sel salty caramel sauce then topped with chocolate-caramel, whipped ganache frosting. A sprinkle of fleur de sel on top gives a little hint at what surprise is inside. The recipe is straight from Brooklyn, NY and the Red Hook bakery, baked. ( I have yet to visit, but am enjoying my out-of-kitchen experiences via their book, Baked, New Frontiers In Baking.)
The recipe wasn't exactly easy, but the fundamentals of it make the difference. This was the first time I ventured into the world of super premium cocoas, using Van Houtte (though I have my sights set on trying Valrhona cocoa and some of the premium Dove). Making the caramel resulted in a couple batches of burnt salted caramel (yuck!), but the danger of 350 degree sugar furiously boiling with the addition of heavy cream made the successful caramel all the sweeter.
The icing is like none other. When I first tasted it, I immediately thought of the little chocolate candy mini-bars, Ice Cubes (anyone else remember those? are they still sold anywhere?) It calls for another batch of fresh caramel with extra cream that is used to melt the pound of dark chocolate for the ganache. Once cooled, a pound of butter is added, then whipped to a fluffy, cloud like finish. I'd say that our warm Arizona 'room temperature' is a bit more than this frosting can tolerate for long, so good thing it tastes great from the refrigerator.
The pictures show the cake not quite thawed out, so the moist crumb looks a little dry. It is far from dry, and the caramel soaked tops add completely different texture. Next time I make this cake I will be using three 8" pans instead of the two 8" x 3" with those tall layers cut in half for four layers. I think this one was out of balance in the frosting to cake ratio, and the un-split layers will keep the layers firmer and less likely to blow out on the sides (as evident in the uneven sides under the frosting). And I also think to bump up the WOW factor of this already decadent cake, I might add maple candied bacon crumbles to the top. Just because I can.