Family Meal

by Chef David Ferguson




Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Cake

Prep Time:  30 min  Cook Time:  25-30 min  Total Time: 2 hours  Servings:  10  

Even though it's beach season it's hard to resist a recipe like this.  Decadent yet not too dense, this sweet & salty desert is perfect with an ice cold glass of milk.  If you are of the school of thought that the main purpose of cake is to serve as a vehicle for frosting, feel free to double the recipe and pile on as much as you like.  The flaky crystals in coarse seat salt or maldon salt are a perfect textural touch for a garnish



  • Non-stick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise (non low fat)
  • 1 tbl vanilla extract

Frosting & Assembly

  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate; chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbl light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup (2 sticks) butter (room temp)
  • 1 tbl flaky sea salt (like maldon salt)
  • Extra virgin olive oil; for drizzle (optional)



  • 3 8" cake pans
  • Parchment paper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Coat cake pans with non-stick spray; place parchment in bottom of pans and spray again.  Make sure to coat the sides of the pans as well.  Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Set whisked ingredients aside.

In an electric mixer, beat together eggs and sugar on high speed until light and the mixture has doubled in volume; about 4-5 minutes.  Add mayonnaise and vanilla and mix until just combined.    Dropping the mixer to low speed, slowly start batching in the dry ingredients in 3rds. Alternate the 3 batches of dry ingredients with 2 additions of  1 1/3 cup lukewarm water.  Once incorporated evenly divide batter into pans.  Rotate pans halfway through baking, 25-30 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let pans cool 20 minutes before attempting to remove the cakes.  

Put 12 oz bittersweet chocolate in a mixing bowl while sugar, corn syrup, and a 1/4 cup water come to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Boil mixture, swirling pan occasionally making sure to scrape down the sides until mixture turns a deep amber.  Remove from heat and mix in cream (the mixture will bubble vigorously).  Return to medium heat and stir until smooth, about two minutes.  Pour caramel over chocolate and stir until mixture is smooth. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat chocolate on medium speed gradually adding butter.  Frosting should thicken and smooth out after about 1 minute.  Chill frosting until firm enough to spread, 20-25 minutes.

Frost each layer of the cake, sprinkling sea salt in-between the layers and garnishing on the top and sides as well.    You may garnish each slice with a sprinkling of salt and drizzle of olive oil if desired.