So. This was meant to be a Macaron post. I was going to write all about how I got this amazing new counter top oven, and I perfected Macarons in it. Well guess what. Macarons continue to be my achilles heel. One day, people. ONE DAY I will nail them. But just not today.
But what I did nail was this wee cake! I have been meaning to share this recipe with you for the longest time - it's my go to "oh shit someone needs a cake" combination. Three layers of chocolate mud cake, a smooth salted caramel filling, and a vanilla bean german buttercream. I used a gluten free flour in this particular one, just to test if it worked, and you honestly can't tell the difference. I also popped a little mascarpone in the buttercream at the end of the mixing process, and now i'm not sure if I can ever go back to the regular recipe. The mascarpone balances out some of the sweetness, and gives it a lovely tang. This recipe scales amazingly, stacks well (it has made its way into a few wedding cakes in my time!), and keeps perfectly. It is super versatile, and my absolute go to. I made this one a little valentines themed number, but you can finish it off any way you like!
The lovely folks at Wolf Gourmet reached out a while back and very kindly offered to send me this amazing countertop oven. I had seen it around the internet for a while, and was very keen to try it out. I have put it through its paces over the last month, making everything from sweet potato fries to macarons (lol.) to banana bread. And let me tell you now - I am seriously impressed. I am so, so happy that I have been reunited with my one true love, FAN BAKE. I can never decide whether I miss fan bake (convection) or burger fuel aioli the most. And now I guess I can just focus on missing aioli. I can finally get vegetables properly crispy, and things evenly cooked. There's also a proof setting on it, which I can't wait to try! I am always running out of oven space (our current oven is a POS and can only take one thing at a time), so it's going to be insanely handy to have this little pocket rocket as my back up / second oven / probably my first choice around home now too!
AND! It fits three six inch cake tins. Not only does it fit three six inch cake tins, but the cakes come out baked just as evenly (if not more) than if I were to use a regular oven. So I thought it would only be fair and reasonable if I proved it!
Also. GUESS WHAT! The team at Wolf Gourmet Have also offered to give away one of these counter top convection ovens! All you have to do is sign up for my updates (theres a little box on the left, or right at the bottom if you're on your phone, that says Subscribe!), and then leave me a comment telling me what your favourite type of cake is! The competition is open until Friday the 16th at 8pm EST, and is open to residents of the 50 states. Good luck!! The winner will be contacted via email.
A few wee tips:
If you can, make the salted caramel and the pastry cream for the german buttercream the night before or a few hours before you plan to assemble, to give them time to cool. If you're in a pinch, spread the pastry cream into a shallow tray, place plastic wrap directly on the surface, and pop into the freezer, stirring occasionally.
The cakes benefit with some time to cool too if possible. I like to make them the night before if I can, and then wrap tightly in plastic and place in the fridge or freezer until I am ready to use them.
I made this cake with a gluten free flour mix, but it works just the same if you use the same amount of regular flour.
The buttercream works the same if you want to omit the mascarpone.
I used a bunch of Ateco french star tips to pipe the blobs on. I have a load of them, and they are super handy! I also use disposable piping bags which makes clean up easy.
I added a little transfer gold leaf once the crumb coat had chilled. Again, totally optional 🙂
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream
- Makes one six inch, three layer cake -
Cake Recipe slightly adapted from Chelsea Sugar
Chocolate Mud Cake
1 1/2 Tbsp (23ml) lemon juice
1 1/2 cups (360ml) whole milk
375g good quality dark chocolate
3/4 cup (160ml) neutral oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups strong, hot coffee (can be instant)
3 cups (450g) all-purpose flour, or 1 to 1 gluten free flour substitute
3 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup cocoa
Salted Caramel Filling
1 cup (200g) sugar
6 tbsp (90g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 Tbsp flaky sea salt
Mascarpone German Buttercream
1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk
1 Tbsp Vanilla bean paste, extract, or the scrapings of one vanilla bean
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (225g) sugar
3 Tbsp (24g) corn starch
2 egg yolks
Pinch of Salt
3 cups (675g, or 6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
225g (8 oz) mascarpone (optional)
Gel food colouring in your choice of colours
Gold Leaf, optional
- PROCESS -
CHOCOLATE MUD CAKE
Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Grease and line three six inch cake tins.
Mix the milk and lemon juice together, and set aside.
In a medium pot, combine the chocolate, oil, vanilla and coffee. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cocoa powder.
Add the milk mixture to the cooled chocolate mixture along with the eggs, and mix well to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until well incorporated.
Divide the mixture between the three prepared tins. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of a cake comes out with a few crumbs attached.
Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from tins and cool completely on a wire rack. Level the cakes off, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.
Place the sugar in a medium sized heavy bottom saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring constantly. The sugar will start to form clumps, then begin to melt. Cook until is it amber in colour, then remove from the heat and immediately add all of the butter. Be careful as the caramel will bubble rapidly. Once the butter is incorporated, add the cream and stir well. Stir in the salt, and pour into a glass jar. Allow to cool completely.
mascarpone german buttercream
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, egg, egg yolk and salt. In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to just shy of a simmer. Remove from the heat.
Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan.
Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow dish or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold. If you are in a hurry, you can speed up this process by placing the custard mixture into a bowl, and placing the bowl into an ice bath, stirring frequently.
Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip the custard mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. Add the Mascarpone and mix to incorporate. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat for a few minutes until smooth and silky.
Place the first levelled layer on a cake stand or turntable. Top with a generous amount of the german buttercream, and smooth out with an offset spatula, building more buttercream around the sides than in the centre of the cake. Fill the centre with about 1/3 of the cooled salted caramel (this amount may vary depending on preference), and top with the second layer. Repeat the buttercream and caramel process, then top with the third layer.
Smooth an rough layer of buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake using an offset spatula, and smooth using an icing smoother. You can go for a fully covered effect, or leave it semi naked as I did. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill. While the cake is chilling, divide the remaining buttercream between four bowls, and colour each various shades of pink using gel food colouring. Transfer each colour to a piping bag fitted with a french star tip.
Remove the cake from the fridge. Apply gold leaf if desired. Pipe blobs of buttercream randomly all over the cake, arranging as desired.
Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Store Leftovers in the fridge.
Thank you so much to Wolf Gourmet for supplying me with this amazing oven, plus another to give away! All opinions are my own.