I just need to stare at this colourful blast of happiness for a while. Fuchsia pink swiss meringue buttercream, drips of golden salted caramel and the bounty of summer mixed with the nostalgic whimsy of sprinkles. In reality, my mind has been feeling the opposite of this pretty thing. So much sadness, fear and hate in the world yet so much goodness, beauty, innocence. So today, I will quietly share this cake, a vibrantly pink frosted caramel drippy cake bursting with happy colours.
Chocolate Caramel Drippy Cake with Summer Fruit
For the chocolate cake
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup of high quality cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee, I used two shots of espresso topped up with hot water equal to 1 cup
For the vanilla swiss meringue buttercream
- ½ cup 120 ml egg whites, (from about 3 to 4 large eggs)
- 1 cup 200 g granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups (3 sticks – 340 g) unsalted butter , at room temperature, cubed
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (optional)
- Americolour electric pink gel colour
For the salted caramel drip
- 3/4 150 g granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup 120 ml heavy cream,, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, I used Maldon sea salt which I broke down into smaller bits
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh fruit, sprinkles
- For the cake decor, I used fresh local blueberries and cherries – I loved the minimalist roundness of both fruits, and the summery feel they added.
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 7-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper circles.
- Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
- In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients (buttermilk mixture) to the dry ingredients (flour mixture). With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Make the buttercream
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the egg whites and granulated sugar. Whisk them together by hand, just until they are combined so that the egg whites don’t begin cooking by themselves.
- Fill a sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixer bowl with the egg white mixture on top to create a double-boiler. The water should be kept at a simmer but should not touch the bottom of the bowl. The double-boiler acts as indirect heat for the egg white mixture.
- Occasionally stirring, heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 155 to 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. The mixture should be very hot to the touch and the sugar should have dissolved.
- Once the egg white mixture is hot, carefully return the bowl to the stand mixer. Fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed for about 8 minutes. When done, the meringue should hold shiny, medium-stiff peaks and be cooled to room temperature. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
- Swap out to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, begin adding in the butter a couple tablespoons at a time. The butter must be room temperature in order to incorporate properly with the meringue.
- Once the butter has been mixed in, add the vanilla bean seeds (if using) and the vanilla extract.
- Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until silky smooth. This may take a few minutes, but continue to mix until light, creamy, and free from most air bubbles.
- Remove 1/4 cup of cream-coloured buttercream and set aside for piping.
- Add your gel food colouring to the rest of the buttercream and mix for another minute on medium speed to incorporate.
Make the caramel
- Place the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy bottomed, small or medium saucepan. Stir to combine.
- Heat over hight heat, occasionally swirling the pan, until turns a medium, golden amber colour – 8-10 minutes. The mixture will begin to rapidly boil before slowing down and darkening in colour. Remove the saucepan from the heat once the correct colour is reached and the bubbles start to subside.
- Slowly and carefully whisk in the cream; I add 1/4 cup at a time, whisking between additions – I found this helped it from foaming up and splattering out – be careful, this can happen!
- Add the butter and continue to stir until melted. Add the salt and vanilla and stir to combine.
- Pour the caramel in to a heat-safe container (I used an empty glass jam jar) and let it cool until it reaches the desired consistency – it will thicken as it cools. For maximum drippage, you will want it to cool down a fair amount – a few hours in the fridge will help it along. If it’s not cool enough, it will be fairly runny.
- Leftover caramel can be stored in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for up to 10 days – if it even lasts that long! (I continually spooned it into my mouth until it was gone. Oops.)
Decorate the cake
- Click here for all the tips on how to frost a cake!
- Fill and crumb coat your completely cooled cake with the pink swiss meringue buttercream.
- Chill the cake for 15 minutes in the freezer.
- Remove cake from freezer and apply second and final coat, using a cake bench scraper/smoother to make the cake nice, and smooth!
- Once your caramel is completely cooled, use a small teaspoon to apply the drips while simultaneously creating a “dam” around the edges of your cake. (go here for drip tips). Use an offset spatula to fill the rest of the cake top.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with an open star tip (such as Wilton 1M) with the remaining cream-coloured buttercream. (Or colour it the colour of your choice!) Pipe drop stars onto the top of your cake in a pretty pattern; decorate with fresh berries and a border of specialty sprinkles!