Nate's Birthday 2013

Beardo is how I affectionately refer to my husband, Nate. I think you can figure out why. 

As I mentioned in my last post, we had a little get-together, where I cooked up dinner for 6 of Nate’s closest friends. 

Having vegetarians to dinner always makes it hard for me to plan a menu. It’s easy to leave out any animal protein, but then there’s only so much you can do with legumes as your protein…and I never have the courage to serve soy products, for fear the non-vegetarians in the group would hate me forever.

Butterscotch Cake ~

I decided to try not to think about how balanced the meal was and went with a slow-roasted tomato pasta dish, beets with mint, homemade marinated mushrooms, some asparagus with chopped tomatoes and a vinaigrette, and some good crusty bread. I’ll try to share some of the recipes with you soon.

I also had some cheese and crackers, and nuts for an appetizer, plus there was cheese in the pasta, so I figured that was plenty of protein for the vegetarians. I served some turkey sausage on the side so the meat eaters wouldn’t feel too deprived.

But the real star of the show was this 9-layer butterscotch cake.

Butterscotch Cake ~

If you noticed my cake only has 7 layers, well you’re very perceptive. That’s because I generously scooped the batter into the prepared pans, thinking it was only supposed to be six layers. When I got to layer 4, I realized my error but by that point I had already baked 3 layers. There was still time to correct it to 7 layers but I couldn’t get 9 out of the remaining batter, and figured it would still look impressive and no one would know the difference. Thankfully I was right.  

All of the comments of this cake on the site I got it from raved about it’s amazingness. It was definitely good but was SO rich. I cut Nate a huge piece not knowing, and he proceeded to eat the whole thing, though I’m not sure how. I think, being the sweet husband that he is, he didn’t want to offend me by not finishing what I served him. I cut myself a small piece and made myself nauseous finishing it.

The cake was definitely impressive-looking, tasted good, and I was proud of myself for making a homemade butterscotch… but aside from that I think it wasn’t worth the effort to attempt it more than once in a lifetime.

Butterscotch Cake ~

*Helpful notes if you try this yourself:

When you go to reheat the butterscotch for the top and sides of the cake, make sure you use a heavy-bottomed saucepan over EXTREMELY low heat.

I think my pan wasn’t “heavy” enough and the butterscotch completely separated. I was ready to cry since it took me about 45 minutes of stirring over a hot pot to make that damn butterscotch, but I was thankfully able to salvage it. The butter basically separated out so I poured it off and had a butterscotch that was more spread-able than pourable, but still tasted exactly the same. So it worked out…phew! If it hadn’t worked, I probably would have thrown my brand new pot out the window, along with the cake and anything else nearby. Hopefully my cat would know well enough to run into the bedroom to hide. 

Also, since there was so little batter that you had to spread it as evenly as possible in the pan, the layers were all slightly uneven/lumpy. When I stacked them I noticed they were sagging on the sides since the middles were so much higher. So i took each cake layer and very carefully shaved off the top of the middle section to make them as flat and even as possible. It wasn’t too hard to do with a good, sharp serrated knife.

I didn’t change a thing, so you can find the recipe here at Leite’s Culinaria

Have I told you how much I love long weekends? :) Nate and I took the 3-day weekend opportunity and headed down to PA to visit his mom and get some R&R.

One of the nice parts about vising Nate’s mom is that my childhood friend, Nicole, lives only about an hour drive from her. So when we get a long weekend, I can take half a day and go spend time with her, her husband and her new ADORABLE baby boy, Luc. He is a seriously cute baby.

Nicole loves to cook but told me that she hasn’t had that much experience with baking and was hoping to bake something with me. She’s been asking me this for a while but the last couple times I visited, we just didn’t have time.

But this time we prepared ahead of time. She wanted to bake a big cake for her hubby. She said he loves dark chocolate and caramel, so I scoured the internet for some cakes that made use of this flavor combo and came across this recipe from the blog Sugar Pies.

I copied the recipe below exactly from their site. It was good…not the best cake I ever had. But I think it could get there with the following changes:

  1. Triple or quadruple the amount of Caramel Cream Frosting. It didn’t even make enough to go between the layers and on top and sides of cake. I think this is because it was supersweet and it would have been overkill with the ganache.
  2. Third or halve the Chocolate Ganache, and don’t spread it but simply allow it to cover the top and drip down the sides of the cake.
  3. Definitely pop the cakes in the freezer before icing them, and again before pouring on the ganache.
  4. Serve the cake at room temperature.

Personally, I think it would be perfect with the cake completely frosted with the Caramel Cream Frosting and then with a thin layer of ganache on the top and dripping down the sides.

I’ll give it this, though- it’s quite impressive/massive looking. I think it could look even more impressive with the changes I made with the ganache dripping down the sides :)

Caramel Cream Cake
Adapted from Sugar Pies Food

Print this recipe!

Makes one 9″ 3-layer cake

Caramel Cream Cake

1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
5 tsp. strong coffee
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut parchment paper circles to fit bottoms of 3 9-inch round cake pans. Grease and flour bottoms and sides of pans.

In mixer fitted with whisk attachment beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and egg yolks and beat until incorporated. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the mixture alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Add the coffee and vanilla and beat well.

In a clean bowl and with a clean whisk, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold into batter. (Note: If you have only one bowl for your mixer, beat the egg whites first and transfer them to another bowl while you mix the batter.)

Divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes then remove from pans and allow to cool completely on wire racks. When completely cool, ice with Caramel Cream Frosting.

Caramel Cream Frosting

1 pound confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 egg yolk
8 tbs. unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs. strong coffee (liquid)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Sift together sugar and cocoa. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolk until pale on low speed. Add the butter and beat well. Add the liquids and the sugar/cocoa mixture and beat until light and fluffy.

Spread frosting between layers of cake and on top and sides. Place cake in refrigerator or freezer to chill thoroughly and allow frosting to set.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

2 cups heavy cream
16 oz. good bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. instant coffee crystals

Place chopped chocolate and coffee in large heat proof bowl.

Heat heavy cream in saucepan until it begins to simmer. Pour over chocolate and allow to sit about 10 minutes to melt the chocolate. Stir with rubber spatula and then whisk chocolate until it is smooth.

Set bowl over another bowl filled with ice water and beat chocolate with electric mixture until about the consistency of sour cream (about 3-10 minutes depending on temperature). Be sure not to over beat the chocolate. You just want it nice and spreadable but not too liquid.

Remove cake from refrigerator and place on wire rack set over baking sheet. Pour chocolate over cake and using offset spatula spread the chocolate over top and sides of cake.

Return cake to refrigerator or freezer to allow the chocolate to set up then allow cake to come to room temperature to serve.