On Labor Day some friends of our came over for dinner and I made a Milk Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing for dessert. Growing up this icing was paired with a chocolate cake on my father’s birthday, only then we called it German Chocolate. I’m not quite sure why it was called that, given German Chocolate cakes normally have coconut added into the mix and the icing is a bit different, but it was something we did every year and my mom still does for my dad now most years.
When I moved out into the world I started making this cake more often than just once a year. No matter who I’ve served it to, it’s normally a hit. I’ve adapted it slightly as time has passed and I no longer use a cake mix, but make a cake from scratch now too. This definitely is a crowd pleaser. It’s sweet, rich and oh so sinful, but sometimes you just need a little sin on a plate!
What You’ll Need for the Cake:
1 – 11.5 ounce bag of milk chocolate chips
1 stick of butter
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 3/4 cup of buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a glass bowl in the microwave melt chocolate and butter together until smooth. (Note: My microwave has a chocolate melting setting. If yours does not, you can use a double boiler or you can melt the chocolate on medium power in your microwave at 30 second intervals until melted and smooth.) Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large glass bowl stir together flour, sea salt, baking powder and sugar until well mixed. (Note: If you want to go to the trouble of sifting this you can, but I have a strict don’t sift unless you just have to rule and for a cake you really don’t have to! ;oP) Once the dry mixture is mixed add eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and melted chocolate and stir until completely incorporated.
Now is the fun part…What shape cake do you want to make? You can make a 13 X 9 inch sheet cake, you can make a round cake, you can make a square cake or you can even make cupcakes! I chose to make a square cake and used 2 – 8 inch square pans.
Spray your pan(s) generously with non-stick spray and pour the batter evenly into your pan(s). If you are using two pans then make sure the batter is spread evenly between the two pans…If you are making cupcakes fill each hole no more than 2/3 of the way full. Place your pan(s) into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until cake sticks done and remove from oven. (Note: Cupcakes would take roughly 20-30 minutes.)
Let cakes cool in the pan(s) for roughly 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Cool completely and then ice or frost.
Notes: You can use any kind of chocolate that you like. I had milk chocolate on hand, but semi or dark will work fine too.
What You’ll Need for the Caramel Icing:
2 1/2 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cups of natural brown sugar
1 cup of half and half or heavy cream
4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted (Note: If your powdered sugar isn’t lumpy then you can skip this step…As I mentioned above I’m about the not sifting unless you just have to! ;))
1 tablespoon of vanilla (optional)
Note: This mixture has to be cooled before you make the icing so you can make it well before you bake the cake or while you’re baking the cake. But it must be completely cooled before the icing is made.)
In a medium sized pot melt butter and sugar with half and half or heavy cream until completely melted. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla if desired. Set aside and let cool completely to room temperature.
Once mixture is cooled, add to the bowl of a mixer or using a hand mixer, add powdered sugar and beat until thick and spreadable. Use icing to ice the cooled Milk Chocolate Cake.
Notes: Given the base of this icing is butter on a hot day it can not want to cooperate. Store in the fridge if you have the room to keep it from running. If you can’t get it to set up then add more powdered sugar 1/4 of a cup at a time until it gets thick.