You never knew Caramel Buttercream could look this gorgeous while still being silky, creamy, and loaded with toffee flavor - until now. This cake is as delicious as it looks. The grown-up flavor profile of caramelized sugar and chocolate stout cake is balanced by the playful popcorn on top. It’s like a pot of edible gold at the end of the rainbow!
This caramel buttercream is everything we ever wanted to slather on our cakes. It has those deep caramel notes without being overly sweet. Most caramel frosting recipes start with a plain buttercream that’s been previously made to which you add caramel sauce. The problem here is that the more caramel sauce you add, the sweeter the buttercream becomes and the most it becomes difficult to work with. There will always be a trade off: not enough caramel flavor or a buttercream that is ridiculously sweet.
Until now! You no longer have to sacrifice that coveted caramel flavor when it comes to buttercream. This caramel buttercream starts with homemade caramel sauce that is then whipped into silky buttercream. As you cook the sugar, make sure it turns a medium-deep amber color. The darker the color, the richer the flavor! This offsets the sweetness of the confectioners’ sugar that helps thicken the sauce and turn it into a spreadable frosting.
Time plays an important role when making this buttercream. Caramel sauce thickens tremendously as it cools. Adding cold butter to the warm sauce helps this process, but you will need to rely on your refrigerator to bring the temperature down before whipping it up. Of course both the butter and sauce will start to solidify if left in the refrigerator for too long, so you will need to babysit the mixture a little bit. The buttercream is ready once it lightens in color and holds some shape after being whipped.
This type of caramel is in the candy and confections category in the pastry world. The texture is unlike most buttercream. It has a slight chewiness to it that must be tasted to fully understand. If the buttercream is too sticky and begins to tear the cake crumb as you frost, consider piping on the first layer of frosting then smoothing it out with an offset spatula. Stir in a couple tablespoons of hot water to help it loosen back up, if needed.
Chocolate Stout Cake
No, chocolate stout cake doens’t taste like beer. Like when we add coffee or instant espresso to chocolate cake, stout adds a deep richness to chocolate cake. The complex and truly chocolate flavors stay moist and rich with the help of sour cream and will curb all your chocolate cravings.
Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel Buttercream
Chocolate Stout Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup stout beer
¾ cup unsalted butter, diced
1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 6 or 7-inch cake pans* and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.
In a medium-large saucepan, warm the stout and butter over medium heat until the butter melts.
With the heat on low, whisk in the sugar, cocoa powder, and espresso powder (if using) until well combined. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sour cream mixture. In two batches, stir in the flour mixture until smooth.
Evenly distribute the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 23 to 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing them from their pans. Continue to cool completely before filling or frosting.
*Bake times will vary depending on the size of the cake pan. Begin checking for doneness at 23 minutes, but resist opening the oven too often. Cake may also be baked in 8-inch cake pans. Do not fill cake pans more than 2/3 of the way full.
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup water
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, diced
3 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
Place the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan and stir together. Heat over high, without stirring, until the sugar boils. Continue cooking for about 8 minutes until the caramel turns a medium amber color. At this point, the bubbles will start to settle. Only swirl the pan, do not stir, to evenly distribute the color once it begins to brown.
Once amber in color, promptly remove the saucepan from the heat. Very carefully pour in the creamy while whisking. The caramel will bubble and steam, so use caution. Keep whisking until smooth. Add the salt and vanilla. Stir to combine.
Pour the caramel sauce into the bowl of a stand mixer and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Using the whisk attachment, mix on low speed while adding in the butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Continue to mix until all of the butter has been added and is incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium-high and whisk for two minutes.
Stop the mixer and add the confectioner’s sugar. Gradually increase the speed from low to medium (making sure sugar doesn’t fly out of the bowl) and mix for a few minutes.
At this point, the caramel will start to lighten in color and thicken in texture but will need to chill before icing the cake. Refrigerate the caramel frosting (in the mixing bowl) for 10 to 15 minutes, until thick and spreadable. Fill and frost the cake immediately.
4 cups popped popcorn
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place popcorn in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Place the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan and stir together. Heat over high, without stirring, until the sugar boils. Continue cooking for about 8 minutes until the caramel turns a medium amber color. At this point, the bubbles will start to settle. Only swirl the pan, do not stir, to evenly distribute the color.
Once amber in color, promptly remove the saucepan from the heat. Very carefully pour in the creamy while whisking. The caramel will bubble and steam, so use caution. Add the butter and keep whisking until smooth. Add the salt and baking soda. Stir to combine.
Quickly yet carefully drizzle the caramel over the popcorn and toss to evenly coat. Tip the mixture on the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring twice, or until dry. Allow to cool before topping the cake.
Spread about ¾ cup of caramel frosting between the layers of cake with an offset spatula. Use the remaining frosting to ice the sides and top of the cake. If the caramel stiffens up too much, stir in a couple tables of very hot water (a could teaspoons at a time). Top with caramel popcorn before serving.