Saturday, January 16, 2010

Brown Butter Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Caramel Buttercream

Now that's a mouthful, both the name and the cake itself.

This thing took me literally about 6 hours from start to finish, and I think every utensil in the kitchen is dirty. But it was a fun way to spend a rainy Saturday and Rich and I both give it two thumbs way up.

Here's the blog with the recipe. I made a few slight modifications. I don't have a whisk or paddle attachment for my stand mixer so I used my hand mixer for everything, just on low when it called for the paddle attachment. I wasn't sure how to heat the egg + sugar mixture over a pan of simmering water, so I heated it over medium in a saucepan and used a candy thermometer to cook to 160 degrees. The ganache was a bit of a disaster. First, I accidentally used unsweetened chocolate. Rich tasted it and made a face and I realized what I'd done, so I remelted the chocolate and added sugar. Then after chilling and mixing, it was a dry crumbly mess so I reheated again and just tried to get it to some sort of spreadable texture.

I'm not sure I'd make this very often because it is a lot of work, but the brown butter vanilla base is great and would make a great sheetcake with the caramel icing for a lot less time and effort.

Here are some of the steps in pictures:

Start by making the browned butter, which is basically just cooking the butter until it reaches the appropriate color and smell. I just googled and read about this a little to help me judge it.

This is the browned butter, poured into a bowl to go in the fridge. It has to chill and harden to be used in the cake.

To make the ganache, finely chop the chocolate (SEMIsweet, not UNsweet), then pour the hot cream over, let sit a minute, then stir. In theory...but mine didn't all melt so I had to add more cream and microwave a few seconds.

Once I realized it was unsweetened, I scooped some out and remelted with sugar then rechilled.

Bake the brown butter vanilla cake layers, put in pans on wire rack for about 20 minutes to cool, then run knife around edges of cakes and turn out onto racks to finish cooling.

This is the buttercream frosting before the addition of the caramel.

The caramel, made by cooking sugar and water then cooling slightly. You mix this with the buttercream.

The two layers with the chocolate ganache in the middle.

The finished product...looks great to me!

Ready to eat.


  1. Hi! I just found your blog site via Robin over at Running Circles around the Turtles (Congrats on your baby!) And I am so glad that I did. That cake looks de-lish, as does several other recipes you have prepared. I am so glad to find someone out there who runs but still enjoys cake.