You see this leg below?
This is the thigh of a well-fed baby. It's soft and squishy with deep folds that must be stretched to be thoroughly washed during bath time. And, unlike an almost forty year-old woman, it's the kind of thigh that is highly desirable if you're a baby.
This kind of thigh means that "the breast milk's aggreein' with him" or so says my husband's eighty-one year-old mother. I think Grandma Mert is right.
Now, the reason for my soft and squishy thighs is probably due to this cake.
This is absolutely my new favorite cake. I've had the recipe printed off for more than a year, but I just got around to making it this summer. This recipe took top honors at the Hershey's Cocoa Classic at the Pennsylvania State Fair in 2008. It was created by a fellow contesting friend, Kelly Madey. What a talented woman!
The icing is like none other. It's a little bit meringue and a little bit buttercream and a little bit peanut butter and I am more than a little bit in love with it. Seriously, this is probably my favorite frosting of all-time. All-time, I say!
The cocoa cake layers are super moist with a hint of coffee. The toffee bits add the crunch and the caramel sauce makes it rich.
Here's a few tips to keep in mind while making it:
-I whip the meringue for the full 15 minutes with the whip attachment. This will cool it down so the butter won't melt too much. Then, when I have all the ingredients in, I whip it again on high speed. I whip it. I whip it good. Heh heh.
-The caramel sauce sets up quickly. If it gets too stiff to drizzle, and it probably will, gently reheat it over low heat, stirring often and/or stir in a little more cream, just until drizzleable again. Now THAT is a hard word to say, if indeed it is a word. I wonder if I can say it three times fast?
Drizz-uhl-able, dribbabel....no, I can't.
-I did not use cake flour like the recipe says, I used all-purpose, but I still had great results.
-I used egg whites, not the pasteurized organic egg stuff that is in the note. Seems like I may have had a conversation with Kelly about this and she said to just use regular egg whites because the other stuff didn't whip up as well. I could have dreamed this, though. I'm almost forty now and my mind is a little foggy. Some days I don't know what's real and what's not.
-I add a full teaspoon of instant coffee granules (sometimes two) instead of the espresso, because I haven't been able to find instant espresso lately.
Chocolate Toffee Caramel Crunch Cake
Nonstick cooking spray for baking
2 cups sugar
2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup cocoa
11/2 teaspoons baking soda
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup boiling water
1 8-ounce bag toffee bits
Peanut Butter Meringue Frosting (recipe follows)
Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment circles and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Beat mixture until combined and smooth (about 1 minute). Stir espresso powder into hot water. Add to batter and mix until just combined. Pour batter into pans and bake for approximately 17 to 20 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove cakes to wire racks to finish cooling.
While cake is cooling, make frosting and caramel sauce.
To assemble cake: Place bottom cake layer on serving plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Sprinkle 1/4 cup toffee bits over top. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Place second layer on top. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Sprinkle 1/4 cup toffee bits over top. Drizzle with caramel sauce.
Spread remaining frosting over cake. Place 3/4 cup toffee bits on top of frosted cake. Drizzle with remaining caramel sauce.
Peanut Butter Meringue Frosting
1 1/8 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup pasteurized organic egg whites (see NOTE)
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Place sugar and water into a saucepan. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat until temperature reaches 240 degrees. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, whip egg whites in a stand mixer to stiff peaks. Slowly add hot sugar syrup and continue to beat for approximately 15 minutes or until mixture has cooled. Add butter, a tablespoon at a time, whipping after each addition. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Whip until fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar and whip until combined and creamy.
NOTE: Since the egg whites in the frosting aren't cooked, it's best to use pasteurized egg whites. Look for cartons of pasteurized liquid egg whites near the eggs in the supermarket.
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Place all ingredients except vanilla into a small sauce pan. Heat to a boil, stirring. Cook for 2 more minutes. Remove mixture from heat. Carefully add in vanilla (mixture will sputter). Stir to combine. Let cool until thickened but still liquid enough to drizzle.