cinnamon + caramel ganache chocolate cake

January 29, 2013

cinnamon + caramel ganache chocolate cake | une gamine dans la cuisine

Okay, mayhaps I do have a little *bit* of a chocolate lover hidden somewhere deep down inside. She's rather small, this inner chocolate-loving stranger, but when she meets the right cake, at just the right time, she's quite willing to make a midnight run and leave her lemon obsession at home for a few hours.

I made this cake for my mom's birthday. She adores chocolate in a way that most people adore chocolate. Due an apparent selfish streak, I wanted to find a recipe that strayed from my dislike for the mundane chocolate-on-chocolate repertoire. Half-eaten cake slices on dainty, flowered plates should never happen.

Thanks to this recipe, everyone (including me) devoured every last fork-clinging morsel. 

cinnamon + caramel ganache chocolate cake | une gamine dans la cuisine

This cake is sublime. It's decadent, it's's the chocolate cake one dreams about when they're craving chocolate cake. Yes, That one. 

The cake itself is moist and dense and perfect. But it's the filling that truly makes this cake linger in your hungry memory, long after the last bite. It's a smouldering caramel ganache-laced with the heat of cinnamon. (I was tempted to eat the filling with a spoon and forget about the whole cake affair.)

The recipe does look intimidating but it's worth the work, promise.

I did have a small problem with the frosting; it seized up on me before I could spread it onto the assembled cake. A simple re-heat in a double boiler took care of the crises beautifully (that's included in the recipe too). This is not your typical frosting, it has more of a ganache/pudding/shelled-chocolate kind of vibe. When it hardens and you go in for a slice, it feels as though you're breaking into a secret treasure trove of chocolate bliss.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

cinnamon + caramel ganache chocolate cake | une gamine dans la cuisine

Cinnamon-Caramel Ganache Layer Cake
makes one 3 layer, 9-inch cake

for the filling
2 cups heavy cream
3-inch cinnamon stick, lightly crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons water
4 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate (62% cacao), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar

for the frosting
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% or 72% cacao), chopped medium fine
2 oz. (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup {the original recipe calls for light corn syrup, so if preferred, you may use that instead}
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold water

for the cake
1 1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
6 oz. (1-1/2 cups) cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 oz. (that's 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten and at room temperature


Prepare the filling {Note: The filling can be made 3 days in advance.}
In a medium saucepan, bring the cream, cinnamon, salt, and 2 Tablespoons of water to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat, cover and steep until ready to use.
Place the chopped chocolate into a large heat-proof bowl and have a fine mesh strainer on hand.
Pour 1/4 cup water into a heavy-duty 3-quart saucepan. Pour the sugar in the center of the pan and pat it down until evenly moistened (there should be clear water all around the sugar). Cover the pan and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes). Uncover and cook without stirring until the syrup begins to color slightly. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, swirling the pot gently from time to time. When the caramel turns reddish amber (about 1 to 2 minutes longer), take the pan off the heat. Slowly and carefully stir in the cinnamon cream mixture. {The caramel will hiss and sputter, so don't stand directly over the pan.} Return the pan to a low heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until the caramel is dissolved (about 1-3 minutes).
Pour the caramel cream through the strainer onto the chocolate and discard the cinnamon. Allow the hot cream to sit over the chocolate for about 2 minutes and then starting at the center- making small concentric circles, whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cover loosely, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 8 hours.

Prepare the frosting
Create a double-boiler. Put the chocolate, butter, syrup, and salt in a heatproof bowl set in a skillet of barely simmering water. Stir gently until the chocolate melts and the mixture is perfectly smooth. Remove the mixture from the heat and *stir in 6 Tablespoons of cold water. {Note: Once the water has been added, don't over-stir. I whisked mine far too much and it hardened as soon as it cooled off. If this happens to you, simply scrape the hardened frosting back into the double boiler and allow it to melt again without adding more water.}
Let cool and thicken at room temperature without stirring. The consistency should be like chocolate pudding.

Prepare the cake
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven if the three pans will fit on it. Otherwise, position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 350°F
Grease three 9×2-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper- grease the parchment, and lightly flour the pans.
In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa powder and 1/2 cup lukewarm water; Set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk with 1/2 cup cool water; Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt and sift them three times onto a large sheet of parchment; Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 15 seconds.
Add both sugars gradually, beating until the mixture lightens in color and appears sandy but fluffy (about 5 minutes).
Dribble the eggs in a little at a time, taking a full minute to add them. Continue to beat for a few seconds until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.
Stop the mixer and add the cocoa mixture. Beat on medium speed just until combined.
top the mixer and, using the parchment as a chute, add about one-quarter of the flour. Mix on low speed just until incorporated.
Stop the mixer and add one-third of the buttermilk. Mix just until blended.
Repeat, stopping the mixer between additions and scraping the bowl as necessary, until the remaining flour and buttermilk are mixed in.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes (if baking on two levels, rotate the upper and lower pans halfway through baking).
Cool the cakes on racks for 5 minutes and then turn onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.

put everything together
Remove the filling from the refrigerator and scrape it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on med-low until the filling is just thick enough to hold a shape, but still spreadable. (Do not over beat!). 
Put one cake layer upside down on a cardboard cake circle or serving plate. Spread half of the filling evenly all the way to the edge of the layer.
Top with a second upside-down layer and gently press in place.
Spread with the *remaining filling. {Note: If it looks like too much filling, save some for use on the final cake layer.}
Top with the third layer, again upside down. Smooth any filling protruding from the sides.

frost the cake
With an offset spatula, spread a very thin layer (about 1/2 cup) of frosting evenly over the top and sides of the assembled cake to smooth the surface, glue on crumbs, and fill cracks. (Stirring the frosting more than necessary dulls the finish and makes it set up too hard.) Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides of the cake, swirling the surface with the spatula.

*phew* Serve and enjoy!

recipe by Alice Medrich (via Fine Cooking)


  1. Divine! This cake is wonderful. A flavor combination that is just amazing.



  2. Such an outstanding cake...WOW! I am beyond impressed, but this: "smouldering caramel ganache- laced with the heat of cinnamon." That is where I want to be. I would have wanted to pretty much just stop right there and be very, very content. I love caramel and cinnamon, big time! The cake itself looks awesomely moist and the ganache.. nice save! I hate it when you follow recipes and then encounter these big pitfalls in the last second. It happened with a ganache I made from a Saveur recipe. Beautiful work, Valerie! And happy bday to your mama! If my daughter ever made something like this for me one day...there would be no words :)

  3. Really, Valerie? This is better than your chocolate cake with raspberry cream filling? That l get a million compliments on, every time I serve it? Twist my arm, I'll try this one too.

  4. @Beth, that's a tough call! Both cakes are depends on if you're in a caramel mood, or a berry mood. :D

  5. I was excited for this post and everything about the cake sounds out of this world. I'm dying to try that filling, even if it isn't the easiest process it sounds worth it! Hope your mom had a wonderful birthday:-)

  6. i'm trying to wrap my head around the cinnamon caramel ganache - it just sounds too delicious to actually comprehend - this is a seriously gorgeous and delicious cake Valerie!

  7. I completely understand your relationship with chocolate cake (though I am partial to good vanilla rather than lemon). I will have to keep this in mind the next time I need to make peace with the chocolate-loving world.

  8. I can't even imagine how delicious this cake must be - with cinnamon, caramel, and chocolate in one place, it's easy to see why every plate was wiped clean :). Gorgeous!

  9. This is everything a chocolate cake should be, and with caramel! One of the best combinations of flavors ever. A lucky person your mom!

  10. I love the idea of this cake. Cinnamon and caramel and chocolate together? Absolute bliss!

  11. This is stunning, Val! The photos and lighting are beautiful, and it sounds incredible! Happy Birthday to your Mom!

  12. I adore chocolate cake in every shape and form but you're right, it can be boring with just chocolate frosting. This looks incredible - almost as much ganache as cake. Yum!

  13. Hello, I've been reading your blog for a while. I might just have to make the ganache and eat it by the spoonful!

  14. Oh wow! Chocolate, caramel and cinnamon!!! This looks divine, going to have to try this combination! :)

  15. This sounds just different enough to still keep this chocolate lover happy! Love that you displayed it on that tart pan, great idea.

  16. @Anna, Thanks! I think I'm the only person (or food blogger) on the planet who does not own a cake stand. :D

  17. I love chocolate, and have been wanting to make many of your recent recipes, but have to wait for my kitchen work to be done. Soon -

  18. Happy birthday to your Mom!!! The best mom only deserves the best cake, right? Glad you guys were able to take photos of the said cake before it was devoured! It looks moist and perfect and mind-blowingly rich!

  19. I wish if I could get a Cinnamon-Caramel Ganache Layer Cake for my birthday… Your Mom is really lucky…

  20. Oh my days! This looks amazing - is it the one I spied you creating on twitter a little while back? Looks so moist and moreish.

    and cinnamon! I dont think (as a firmly established chocolate lover)I have ever lusted over a chocolate cake quite like this one!

  21. This is FAB!! It looks so freakin' good! My husband would make love to this cake. haha He's my chocolate fiend.
    Happy Birthday to Mom!

  22. Stay still my heart! you know I'm a chocolate lover and seeing this cake my sweet tooth is putting my will power in the corner. I want one slice right now! Chocolate and caramel, oh yes! Your mom is one lucky lady. Happy Birthday to her!

  23. Of course this is sublime. Chocolate and cinnamon makes for a beautiful couple. Buttermilk in my cake batter-- guaranteed moist! Wow!

  24. I bet your mom really enjoyed her birthday cake, it looks delicious! I am now tempted to break the diet yet again with this cake, looks yum!

  25. this cake looks SO GOOD. i had to stop myself from licking my laptop screen. happy belated birthday to your mom!

  26. Happy birthday to your mother. There is nothing like empty plates to spell success. I love chocolate toppings that are quite solid and need breaking. It feels like eating solid chocolate.

  27. this is being printed right now!!
    valerie, this is how all chocolate cakes should be done!!

  28. OMG look so yummy. Chocolate cakes are my favourite. I print the recipe and going to try it right now, 

  29. I want some and I want it now. Lovely chocolate.

  30. The flavors that you put in this cake are too good to be true! If only I can grab it from the computer. Just gorgeous and so delicious looking!

  31. Hi Valerie! I recently stumbled across your blog, and this cake was the first recipe I tried. It was delicious! I'm not a huge chocolate lover, but it was amazing! Thank you!


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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