Another birthday.

(Not mine! I’m not ageing that quickly. I hope.)

This one celebrates another year with a salted caramel chocolate cake. Based on Pierre Herme’s Faubourg Pave, with extra caramel shards flecked with cocoa nibs and vanilla salt, and truffles.

(Because life should get sweeter and richer, as you get older. 🙂 )

Cocoa Cake :
(enough for two Faubourg Paves; recipe for ganache here; from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme)

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (40g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup (35g) cake flour
3 1/2 tablespoons potato starch
5 1/2 tablespoons (75g) unsalted butter
9 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (150g) sugar
5 large egg whites, at room temperature

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 180’C. Butter two 18 x 9cm loaf pans,m then line the pans with baking paper.

Sift together the cocoa powder, cake flour, and potato starch and keep close at hand. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool until it is barely warm to the touch.

Working in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (75g) of the sugar on medium-high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture is thick and pale, about 5 minutes. If you do not have a second mixer bowl, scrape the thickened egg yolks into a large bowl and wash and dry your mixer bowl; wash and dry the whisk attachment in any case.

Fit the mixer with the clean, dry bowl and whisk and whip the egg whites at medium speed just until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining sugar and beat until the peaks are firm and shiny.

Working with a large rubber spatula and a light hand, fold the sifted dry ingredients and one-quarter of the beaten whites into the yolk mixture. Stir a few tablespoons of this mixture into the cooled melted butter, stirring to incorporate the butter as much as possible, then add the butter and the remaining whites to the yolk. Working quickly and gently, fold everything together.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans – it should come three-quarters of the way up the sides – then slide the pans into the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. A slender knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.

To cool the loaves, allow them to rest for 3 minutes in their pans, then gently unmold them onto cooling racks, delicately lift off the baking paper, and turn the cakes right side up to cool at room temperature.

(Welsh vanilla salt, pure vanilla extract, Lindt chocolate buttons)

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  1. Lorraine E said,

    November 14, 2008 @ 1:01 pm

    I’ve never seen Vanilla salt before (Welsh or otherwise!). It looks fabulous, like it should be on display in a gallery!

  2. Vera said,

    November 14, 2008 @ 3:37 pm


  3. FFichiban said,

    November 14, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

    Exquisite cake ^^! Could you make me a cake on my bday pllleeassseeee :D?

  4. Jude said,

    November 14, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

    Uhm.. any chance you can tell me where you got your measuring cups? I’m thinking those would make a perfect gift for someone I know. 🙂

  5. Christy said,

    November 14, 2008 @ 7:46 pm

    Wow…what an elegant cake!! And vanilla sea salt…that’s really interesting, but makes sense too, because since you can do it with sugar, you sure can do it with salt too!

  6. snookydoodle said,

    November 14, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

    wow this looks so good and sophisticated. wish to try it but think i ll end up making a mess 🙁 great recipe.

  7. linda said,

    November 14, 2008 @ 8:31 pm

    So the cake keeps a flat surface after baking? Ideal for decorating, which I love the way you did.
    Never heard of vanilla salt either…

  8. Eileen said,

    November 15, 2008 @ 1:12 am

    This cake is absolutely fantastic! Nothing much beats this combination of ingredients. Today is my husband’s birthday and I wish I had seen this yesterday before I started the fresh banana cake I made him.

  9. Dana said,

    November 15, 2008 @ 1:58 am

    It is one thing to make something incredibly delicious for a friend. It is another to make edible art. It looks like here you have made both – Bravo!!

  10. clumbsycookie said,

    November 15, 2008 @ 2:34 am

    I wouldn’t mind to get an year older just to eat that b’day cake ;)!

  11. Arundathi said,

    November 15, 2008 @ 2:59 am

    thanks for visiting my blog – and i got to discover yours! 🙂 you have a lovely blog here. Subscribed.

  12. Patricia Scarpin said,

    November 15, 2008 @ 3:54 am

    I wish I’d had a piece of this cake yesterday, when I hit the big 3.0! 🙂

  13. Aran said,

    November 15, 2008 @ 5:24 am

    oh gorgeous!

  14. cakebrain said,

    November 15, 2008 @ 6:31 am

    That’s beautiful! I have the cookbook too but haven’t been brave enough to try anything yet!

  15. Reemski said,

    November 15, 2008 @ 12:27 pm

    I have to agree with Jude, Those measuring cups are lovely! As is the cake……BTW I’ve tagged you! Come and visit to see…

  16. Shari said,

    November 15, 2008 @ 3:41 pm

    I want to make this now! I like your quote: life should get sweeter and richer, as you get older. I hope it’s true.

  17. Eva said,

    November 15, 2008 @ 5:52 pm

    O-MI-GOD! What more can I say…

  18. grace said,

    November 16, 2008 @ 1:31 am

    oddly enough, i think my sweetest and richest birthday cakes were served in my earlier years. i believe, dare i say it, that my tastes are becoming more refined–up until recently i no doubt would’ve snubbed my nose at this since-gasp-there’s no frosting. 🙂

  19. Helen said,

    November 16, 2008 @ 7:22 am

    I absolutely love that top photo – it is so gorgeous I want to hang it on my wall! Salted caramel is something I adore – exactly what i was just saying to someone else on Twitter! I’ve not heard of vanilla salt either – brilliant 🙂

  20. arfi said,

    November 17, 2008 @ 4:26 pm

    Does it take time for you to make wafers, and then cream, and all of the elements on the dessert plate? You always can do this perfectly. I just love it!

  21. the caked crusader said,

    November 17, 2008 @ 7:35 pm

    Wow! That’s a work of art. I am not worthy…….

  22. Cakelaw said,

    November 17, 2008 @ 9:37 pm

    This is a gorgeous cake, and I love the caramel decorations.

  23. Anita said,

    November 18, 2008 @ 9:00 am

    Wow! This looks absolutely gorgeous (just like the rest of your beautiful dishes). I am very jealous, I wish I could make something half as impressive.

  24. Y said,

    November 18, 2008 @ 10:44 pm

    Thanks for the comments! 🙂

    To answer a few questions :

    Jude : Those measuring cups were bought from a local department store. I already own two sets of measuring cups but saw these and just had to get them. There was also a measuring spoon set that was just as nice. I tried looking for them online so that I could point them out to you, but haven’t been successful. Can’t remember the exact brand (the box has since been thrown out) but the bottom of each cup reads Ecology Rona, if that helps at all.

    Arfi : Yes, it always takes time. But I like spending time in the kitchen, so I consider it time well spent 😀

  25. Miri said,

    November 19, 2008 @ 12:18 am

    Simply gorgeous!

  26. Christie@fig&cherry said,

    November 19, 2008 @ 4:08 am

    Caramel is also delicious ‘salted’ with vegemite, you know? 😉

  27. Tony said,

    November 20, 2008 @ 7:28 am

    awesome measuring cups!! and equally awesome cake!! I think it’s worth aging quickly if it means I can treat myself to something as decadent as that 🙂

  28. Tartelette said,

    November 20, 2008 @ 7:51 am

    I think I just found the bithday cake I’ll be making myself next year!

  29. megan said,

    November 28, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

    YUM! how decadent and pretty this is!

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