Prep 40 mins
Cook 40 mins
Adapted from Grandmother's Kitchen
FOR THE CAKE
- unsalted butter, room temperature, for pans
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups unsweetened dutch cocoa
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
- coarse salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1⁄2 cups low-fat buttermilk
- 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons safflower oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
FOR THE CARAMEL
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 1⁄4 cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups heavy cream
- coarse salt
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
FOR THE FROSTING
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1⁄2 cup confectioners' sugar
- coarse salt
- 1 lb semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted, and cooled
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Make the cake: Butter three 9-inch round cake pans, and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
- Sift flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons course salt into the bowl of a mixer.
- Beat on low speed until just combined.
- Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, 1 1/2 cups warm water, oil, and vanilla.
- Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Divide batter among pans.
- Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
- Let cool in pans set on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
- Turn out cakes onto racks, and let cool completely.
- Make the caramel: Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over high heat.
- Cook, without stirring, until mixture is dark amber, about 14 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and carefully pour in cream (mixture will spatter); stir until smooth.
- Return to heat, and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees, about 2 minutes.
- Pour caramel into a medium bowl, stir in 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Let cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting: Whisk together cocoa and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water in a bowl until cocoa dissolves.
- Beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and a generous pinch of coarse salt in a clean bowl with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy.
- Gradually beat in melted chocolate and then cocoa mixture until combined.
- Let stand for 30 minutes before using.
- Trim tops of cakes using a serrated knife to create a level surface.
- Cut each in half horizontally to form 2 layers.
- Transfer 1 layer to a serving platter, and spread 3/4 cup caramel over top.
- Top with another cake layer, and repeat with remaining caramel and cake layers, leaving top uncovered.
- Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
- Frost top and sides of cake in a swirling motion.