Thursday, December 1, 2011

Baked’s simply incredibly delicious Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake

         There’s a new shop that just opened practically across the street from us.  Across town, on the East Side, it’s called “The Best Chocolate Cake in the World”.  Somehow, on the West Side, it’s morphed into “Choco Bolo” (2058 Broadway between 70th  and 71st  Streets). Perhaps the name change reflects somebody pointing out that the old moniker was slightly obnoxious even in a city of superlatives.  Or more likely, the bakery, which has its roots in Lisbon, is just trading on its Portuguese heritage:  Choco Bolo translates to “Chocolate Cake”.  I have another theory:  As good as Choco Bolo’s cakes are, and I am told they are outrageously good, someone had one taste of Matt Lewis and Renato Poliofito’s Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake and surrendered the title on the spot.

Renato, seated, and Matt
         You know Matt and Renato from these pages because the recipe for this chocolate cake is the tenth time we’ve featured a recipe from Baked, their Brooklyn-based bakery.  That is a record in and of itself but it speaks volumes about in what high esteem Andrew holds these two bakers.  They’ve got two cookbooks now, “Baked” and “Baked Explorations”.  They’ve got a line of packaged mixes for brownies and bars that are sold at Williams Sonoma.  And, if you read my email blasts, I’m thrilled to say they’ll be at the Artisan’s Market when I’ll be there showing off Monte’s Ham.  So if you come to Williams Sonoma at The Shops at Columbus Circle on December 3rd, you can help yourself to ham and a brownie…an odd combination for sure, but delicious nonetheless.
         But back to this sensational chocolate cake.  Sweet and Salty is a combination Andrew’s been hooked into for while.  I think it started with a Caramel Ice Cream recipe that included a hefty portion of sea salt.  And if you think about Caramel Candy, that was likely your first introduction to the concept.  There’s something about the two together that makes the whole so appealing.  It enlivens the flavor of the chocolate and tasting both together is a true palate pleaser.  Andrew’s made this cake upon request at two birthday parties.  It is a perfect celebration cake but don’t wait to bake it until you have one.  I think it will become a fast favorite.  Here’s the recipe with thanks to Matt and Renato.
Recipe for Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake from “Baked”
For the Classic Chocolate Cake Layers:
         3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
         1-1/4 cups hot water
         2/3 cup sour cream
         2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
         2 teaspoons baking powder
         1 teaspoon baking soda
         1/2 teaspoon salt
         3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
         1/2 cup vegetable shortening
         1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
         1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
         3 large eggs, at room temperature
         1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the Salted Caramel:
         1/2 cup heavy cream
         1 teaspoon fleur de sel
         1 cup sugar
         2 tablespoons light corn syrup
         1/4 cup sour cream
For the Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting:
         1 pound dark chocolate (60 to 70% cacao), chopped
         1-1/2 cups heavy cream
         1 cup sugar
         2 tablespoons light corn syrup
         2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
To Assemble the Cake:
         2 teaspoons fleur de sel, plus more for garnish
Make the Classic Chocolate Cake Layers
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.
In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream and set aside to cool. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt  into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until ribbonlike, about 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.
Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.

Make the Salted Caramel In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved.
Meanwhile, keeping a close eye on the cream mixture so it doesn't burn, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F., 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.
Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.
Make the Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting
Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat. Meanwhile, keeping a close eye on the cream so it doesn't burn, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F., 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the     caramel cool for 1 minute.
Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes, then pour the caramel over the chocolate. Let the caramel and chocolate sit for 1 minute, then, starting in the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate and caramel mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted. Let the mixture cool, then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy.

Assemble the Cake
Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup of the caramel over the top. Let the caramel soak into the cake, then spread 3/4 cup of the ganache frosting over the caramel. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel over the frosting, then top with the second cake layer. Spread with caramel frosting and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel. Then top with the third layer. Spread with caramel. Crumb coat the cake (see page 22) and put the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.
This cake will keep beautifully in a cake saver at room temperature (cool and humidity free) for up to 3 days. If your room is not cool, place the cake in a cake saver and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.


  1. Well, first of all, I did share on FB of your event at Williams Sonoma, and also tweeted it..

    Now as for this cake, I wish the picture was 3D so I could just jump into the batter.... Comprende??

    This cake is amazing, period. Whoa.

  2. Dear Ana, I can't thank you enough for all your support. Just wish you lived close enough to come and share our delicious ham. All best, Monte

  3. When is Lent over??!! I want this cake!!! Patience Ana, patience....

    1. Do you know that the cake shop referenced in this piece closed? Too funny...I guest "the best chocolate cake in the world" was a bit of a stretch after all.

  4. Hi really really want to make this cake but need to do it as a square, would 1 1/2 the mixture do for a 10 inch square tin, also has anybody frozen this cake.. and for future refs does it work well under fondant i.e. it will not collapse of become dense.. thank you really cant wait to try this:)

  5. Hi Twingo, As you know, I don't do the baking in our house, my partner, Andrew, does. I asked him for his advice and here is what he wrote back. "I would not recommend doing it as a square with a 10 ‘ pan---you will be shifting the cooking time and ingredients are not always able to break down the quantities cleanly. The cake should be strong enough to work well under fondant". I hope this is helpful and thanks so much for your visit.

  6. ahhh thank you ....I had no internet to check until now the answers.. and the cake is in the over as we speak square and 10inch .. will let you know how it goes:) if not will do it again but round and correct tin... thank you...

    1. Please let us know how it turned out!