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Chocolate Caramel Meringue Cake

Presented by Janelle Farquhar, Cakery Road, WA

Use your favourite Chocolate Cake Recipe and vamp it up with gooey caramel and chunks of chocolate meringue. It is one of my top selling flavour combinations.

As a cake decorator I like to have my base cake flavours and then jazz it up with different fillings, so generally all I have is Chocolate Mud Cake, White Chocolate Mud Cake and Vanilla Cake, everything flows from these 3 flavours.

The caramel filling is my Caramel Slice filling that I use in a lot of cakes and slices, it’s so versatile and it’s great at room temperature, which is important when creating cakes all year round.

You will find this Caramel Slice recipe along with others that I grew up with, is from the Australian Women’s Weekly book of “Old Fashioned Favourites” and is even on the side of the can of Nestle Condensed Milk.

Ingredients

1 x Chocolate Cake. * My standard cake sizes are 4 layers x 1 inch thick. So I bake and pre-slice all my cakes and then wrap up ready to go. If you are wanting a step by step of my Chocolate Mud Cake recipe, it was in a previous edition of the Australian Sugar Craft Magazine (April 2018 issue).

And this brings me to another important part, I always seal all of my cakes (well most of them that have fillings) with Chocolate Ganache, even under Buttercream (weather depending). Ganache is a vital step in sealing and keeping your cake moist.

I had made several mud cakes, transported them on a plane up to Darwin and we all ate it 1½ weeks later at my Mum’s 70th. We had the ice cream ready to go in case it was dry, but we didn’t need the ice cream. Phew!! So, setting up your cake properly and doing all your prep work is worth it.

PS. If you notice the cake feels dry when stacking your cake, simply brush the cake with Sugar Syrup.

So, here we go. Let’s bake! Gosh, I sound like I’m on a Bake Off Show.

You can also make the caramel filling and chocolate meringue a day in advance, they both keep well in the fridge. Just pop into an airtight take away food container.

Ingredients cont’d.

Chocolate Cake ƒ

  • 1 batch of your favourite chocolate cake or mud cake ƒ
  • Mine is 6” round by 4 x 1” layers

Chocolate Meringue ƒ

  • 2 egg whites ƒ
  • ½ cup sugar, granulated ƒ
  • Pinch of salt ƒ
  • 4 teaspoons cocoa powder, sifted
  • Caramel Fudge Filling ƒ
  • 30gm Butter ƒ
  • 1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk ƒ
  • 2 tablespoons Golden Syrup or Treacle Chocolate

Ganache ƒ

  • 3:1 ratio – 3 parts chocolate:1 part cream (900gm dark chocolate:300ml cream) ƒ
  • 900gm chopped dark chocolate (I use compound chocolate) ƒ
  • 300ml cream (I use thickened cream) 

Step 1.

Bake your cakes and pre-slice to 4 by 1” layers thick.

*3kg of batter is pretty much a standard for me. So, if you’re wondering why I have so much batter, this is why. I tend to fill my oven up.

I wrap all my cake tins in brown paper to avoid the edges browning too much. (When baking a vanilla cake you can see the difference with & without the paper, so it does make a difference to your cake.)

I triple fold my paper to ensure good coverage. I secure my paper with a metal bulldog clip.

* please do not touch clip straight out of oven, and please do not use paper clips or anything that’s not heat or oven proof. Cooking twine is great, but I find this method much easier.

I bake at around 140°C, and they are baked when they spring back to a light touch and tested with a wooden skewer to make sure there are no gooey bits of cake batter.

So here is another one of my baking tips and it makes a huge difference to how your cake turns out. It’s called the “tenting” method. You can use a tray or baking foil, in this instance I’m using foil. Lightly grease a piece of foil (large enough to cover all your cakes) and add a piece of baking paper so it doesn’t stick to your tray.

Cut a piece of foil large enough to cover the top of your cakes. Lightly spray with oil and then add a layer of baking paper down (this stops any cake sticking to the foil). Fold in your edges and you’re ready to go.

Cakes are wrapped and covered and ready to go all baked sliced and ready to wrap up and go in the fridge.

Step 2.

Make the Caramel Fudge Filling

Pop all your ingredients into a heavy based saucepan.

Stir continuously until filling has thickened, do not boil or you can burn the caramel.

Step 3.

Let’s make the Chocolate Meringue

How to make the meringue

  1. In a mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the egg whites with half the sugar and a pinch of salt until foamy, about 2 minutes.
  2.  With the mixer still running, slowly pour in the remaining sugar. Continue whipping for about 10 minutes or until a whisk dipped into the meringue then turned upright keeps the peak straight up without the bend.
  3. Sift the cocoa into the meringue, then carefully fold it in to keep the meringue from deflating. Now get a teaspoonful of meringue and using a second teaspoon scrape it onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake in a slow 100° C oven for about 1.5 hours. To check if it is dry, remove from the oven, break in half and allow to cool. Remove from oven and let cool before using.

Note: I like mine a little gooey inside so I bake my meringue in one large piece. If you want a meringue that has completely dried out, place spoonfuls of batter onto the tray instead of one large meringue.

Step 4.

Make the Ganache

I use a 3:1 ratio for my ganache – that’s 3 parts dark chocolate 1 part cream.

So, in this recipe you don’t really need a lot unless you wish to cover the whole cake in ganache, in that case you will need to double the recipe. Ganache freezes well, so if you don’t use it, just pop in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Pour 300ml of cream into a heavy based saucepan, bring to a slow boil and take off heat just as you start to see bubbles foaming on the edge. If you’re anything like me, I can take my eyes off the cream and then suddenly the whole thing has bubbled out of the pan and all over the stove and it’s no fun to clean off milk on a gas stove top!!

Ok, I know people have different methods to make ganache and some people use microwaves, which is ok. But I’m a little old school and like the double boiler method for a couple of reasons:

a. you heat the cream to remove any bacteria and germs that may be present in the cream.

b. you can stir with a whisk while on the stove which I find easier than putting in and out of the microwave just my personal preference.

Add your heated cream to your chocolate and place over a double boiler or a saucepan of steaming water and give your ganache a good stir to make sure there are no lumps. It’s very import to make sure you have no lumps, cause those slippery little suckers like getting stuck in piping bags or create lines all way around your perfectly ganache cake. Not that I’ve ever done this! Ever! no no no no. Oh! ok, I might of done it a couple of times.

Once your ganache is lovely smooth with NO lumps. Pop into some plastic containers and let cool to room temperature. Cover with lid and pop in the fridge ready for assembling the cake.

Step 5.

Vanilla Buttercream

I’m going to share with you my favourite buttercream icing recipe, sorry to all those people who love swiss meringue buttercream, I just find it too buttery for me, so I tend to stick to what I know will hold up in humidity and hot weather here in Perth.

I need to make sure that cake is not going to melt or fall off the board for my customer which brings me to another subject I get asked about all the time.

How to stack and tier my cake? How do I stop my cake from sliding off the cake board?

I’m pretty sure that most cake decorators have learnt this lesson the hard way too. Most of my cakes nowadays are central dowelled, including my small tall cakes. As most of the cake styles that are the rage are a lot taller than they used to be, we need to make sure they are not going move off the cake board in anyway, even if your customer has to stop suddenly.

I have seen many cake fails that have not been supported properly, and have slammed into the side of the cake box, or melted and sunk when left at room temperature.

So needless to say, it’s very important to do this properly and spend the time preparing your boards.

So, lets get going with the Vanilla Buttercream: 

250gm Butter or Fairy Margarine *which is a baking margarine and very cost effective and tastes great in buttercream. ƒ

250gm Vegetable Shortening *available in any good cake decorating store. I buy mine in bulk from my local bakery food supplier. ƒ

1 kg of icing sugar.

*Now lets stop here, because I’m pretty sure I know people will say yuk I don’t like the aftertaste of the shortening. I would say to them maybe try a different brand or a kosher brand, or even Crisco. Crisco is good, but I don’t find it very cost effective to use in my recipes. (I use the Kosher blend from Solite.) Do not use copha, it is not the same thing, copha is used to thin down chocolate.

*If you wish to have a very white buttercream, or simply you’re having extremely hot weather and you know your cake is going to be outside, I would use a 100% shortening instead of half/half.

Place the following into your mixing bowl:

250gm Butter ƒ

250gm Shortening or Crisco ƒ

About a tablespoon of good vanilla bean paste.

I find you get a much nicer flavour with vanilla bean instead of essence ƒ

4 tablespoons of warm water

* If you wish to have a firmer crusting buttercream add 2 tablespoon of meringue powder to your mix before you add the hot water. The hot water helps with the meringue mixing and dissolving properly through your buttercream.

Whip everything up for a good 10 minutes or more until your butter is nice and creamy (under-whipped buttercream will give you the vegetable oil aftertaste I was talking about).

Take the time to whip it, whip it good!

** now another tip. I don’t use milk or cream or anything cold to my buttercream it can cause it to split if you add something straight out of the fridge. so,if you do want to use milk, take it out and bring to room temperature. When everything is incorporated nicely, slowly add your icing sugar and continue to beat until it’s nice & creamy and doesn’t feel grainy.

Step 6.

Let’s get ready to assemble

So here I’ve got my pre sliced cake 4 x 1” layers. This is my standard size tier in every cake I do.

I also have a 6” foil lined cardboard cake board underneath my cake.

My presentation board will be 10” round. I like to stick to 10“, 12”, 14” boards so my boards fit nicely into boxes with no sliding room.

Assembling your cake:

1. Put some ganache on your base board to hold your cake down.
2. Pop your first cake layer down.
3. Pipe a small boarder on the edge of your tier. This will act as a barrier so your filling doesn’t bulge out the side of your cake.
4. Using a spoon, spread a layer of your caramel in the middle.

You can have buttercream or ganache to finish off your cake. 

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