The wedding madness has passed. And my little sister is now a married woman. My heart is crazy happy for her. The wedding was absolutely beautiful. And I am absolutely pooped (in the best possible way). In true fashion, we bit off more than we could chew. But we got it done.

With 30 minutes to spare before leaving for the wedding. I’m still not sure why I picked one of the hardest cake recipes I’ve ever made for the groom’s cake. Caramel is my arch nemesis. Ganache is super finicky in the icing stage. And more often than not, I overcook the egg whites when making a swiss meringue buttercream and have to start over  (I’m an italian meringue buttercream girl). For some reason, I still thought I could easily make this cake on a large scale. For a wedding. For my sister’s wedding, no less.

But sometimes crazy works. And everything falls into place at the last minute. Just in time to put on your makeup and run out the door with a cake too heavy to hold in your hands.

I heard it was good. But there was no way I could have tried it at the wedding. If anything was off, I would have died.

More to come about the wedding once I get ahold of some pictures, including the real groom’s cake. The cake pictured was my test run—a mini 6-incher. It’s worth the work, but I warn you—be patient and read and re-read the recipe before attempting, especially the caramel buttercream. It’s a doozy, at least for this faux baker.

PS—Check out my In the Kitchen post over at Mint today.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Chocolate Cake

Yield: one 9-inch 2-layer cake or two 6-inch 4-layer cakes


1 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 c. half and half
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 c.) unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 c. granulated sugar
4 large eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line 8" or 9" pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Add dry ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk together. Into a separate bowl, measure liquid ingredients. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar on the lowest speed for 3-5 minutes. (This will feel odd, but keep it on low.) When ready, butter mixture will begin sticking to the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down sides after each addition.
  5. With the mixer speed still on low, add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 4 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move quickly through this step to avoid overworking the batter. This should take a total of about 45 seconds.
  6. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. Don’t miss the clumps of ingredients hiding on the bottom. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batters structure.
  7. Distribute batter evenly using a 2-ounce trigger release ice-cream scoop.
  8. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until the center no longer holds a finger print when pressed.
  9. Cool cake for 5 minutes before removing from the pan, using an offset spatula to loosen edges. Allow layers to cool completely before assembling. Remove parchment paper.
Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yield: about 4 cups


1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. heavy cream
heaping pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large egg whites


  1. Bring 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, cooking slowly. Cover with lid to prevent sugar crystals from forming around edges, occasionally swirl pan. Cook until caramel just turns dark amber (darker pans are more difficult to tell when caramel has turned). Remove from heat, and slowly add cream and heaping pinch of salt. Stir until smooth. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a separate bowl.
  3. Place egg whites and remaining sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water (double boiler). Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm to touch. Mixture will feel smooth and silky between the fingers when ready. Over cooking will scramble the eggs (no beuno).
  4. Remove from heat, and pour eggs in bowl of standing mixer being sure not to drip any water into the mixture. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter a little at a time, whisking well after each addition.
  5. With mixer on low speed, add caramel, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

Yield: 3 cups


1 1/4 c. (10 oz.) dark chocolate
2/3 c. powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 c. + 1 tbsp. heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
heaping dash of sea salt


  1. Combine chocolate and powdered sugar in a heat proof bowl. Whisk together yolks in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Add heavy cream to a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Pour cream over chocolate and carefully stir until sugar is dissolved. Place bowl over a pan with simmering water (double boiler) and heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat being careful not to get any water in the mixture.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup of the hot chocolate mixture into the yolks and whisk quickly to temper. Add mixture back into the chocolate and whisk well. Add butter and salt. Stir until smooth.
  4. Pour through a fine mesh sieve to catch any clumps.
  5. Allow to cool before icing, about 1 hour. Whisk before using.

1. If necessary, level the cakes.
2. Evenly spread buttercream between layers.
3. Slowly pour ganache over cake. Carefully spread around the cake using an offset spatula being sure not to spread crumbs into the frosting.
4. Pull the back of a spoon to create the swirl at the top of the cake.
5. Sprinkle with sea salt.
6. Serve or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Salt will melt the longer it sits.

Recipe inspired by  Sweetapolita. Cake recipe from Cake Love. Buttercream recipe adapted from Martha Stewart. Ganache recipe slightly adapted from Miette.

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