Chocolate Caramel Crunch Cake

Happy (Nearly) New Year fellow foodies!

Over the holidays I was super busy. It was wild and it was eventful, but I managed to cook for family and friends quite a bit. The dish that seems to have been most talked about and the recipe most asked for was a chocolate cake recipe containing mayonnaise. I know that sounds like it might come out weird, but I can assure you, dear reader, that mayo in a cake adds depth and richness, and-no-you don't taste the mayo in the final product.

So, once your diet-filled-no-cookie-eating January is over, try this cake for Valentine's Day in February. I guarantee it'll be one of your favorite go-to cakes!

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup 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 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups mayo (not low or no fat!)
1 Tbs. Vanilla
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water

24 ounces dark or bitter sweet chocolate chopped into small bits
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 tsp. salt
3 cups (6 sticks-24 oz.) unsalted butter-at room temperature

1, 12oz. bag of Heath Bar Toffee Bits

Cake Assembly
Preheat the oven to 325F. Lightly coat 2 nine inch cake pans with nonstick spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper; spray again.

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a big bowl. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place, whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add mayo and vanilla and whip on high two minutes more. Turn the mixer off and add 1/3 of the dry mix. Turn the mixer onto low speed and slowly add 1/2 of the water. Mix until the batter is smooth. Add 1/3 more dry mix and the remainder of the water. Mix again on low speed until the batter is smooth. Add the last 1/3 of the dry mix and continue to run the mixer on low until you have a smooth creamy batter. Pour into your waiting cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before removing the cake layers from the pans (about 45 minutes).

Frosting Assembly
Put the chopped chocolate in a medium medal bowl. Find a pot that the bowl will fit on top of without falling into. Pour about 1 inch of water into the pot and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat off, but leave the pot on the burner and place the chocolate over the hot water, being very sure that the bowl does not come into direct contact with the water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in your tallest pot, pour in the sugar, water, and corn syrup. bring this mixture to a boil, trying not to stir it more than once or twice. Allow the sugar mix to boil until it reaches a nice golden brown hue (about 315F on a candy thermometer). This take somewhere between 9-13 minutes, but please don't leave it unattended or you could have a mess of smoking burnt sugar on your hands-and no one wants that!

Once the mix has reached a golden brown hue, turn the heat down to medium low, and add a little cream-THIS WILL ERUPT AND BUBBLE VIOLENTLY-which is why you need your tallest pot. once the bubbles subside stir with a wire whisk and continue to add the cream a little at time until you have a smooth creamy caramel sauce. Add the salt and cook stirring for about two minutes to ensure all the sugar has dissolved. Pour the caramel over your now mostly melted chocolate, and gently whisk together. Place the mix on the counter and allow to cool to room temperature.

Using your electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place, whip the butter for about 5 minutes until it is fluffy. Add the chocolate caramel mix and whip on high for about 3 minutes more. Place the frosting in the fridge for about 30-45 minutes to chill it to a spreadable temperature.

Cut your cake layers on half horizontally, making four thin cake layers. Place on onto a round cake board or serving platter. And evenly cover with a thin layer (about 1/4 inch) of frosting. Repeat with your remaining layers. Evenly ice the cake's sides and top with remaining frosting. Hold your cake in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Right before serving, pour the Heath Toffee Bits into a bowl, and scoop some into the palm of your hand. moving from bottom to top, smooth the bits into the side of the cake. This is a bit messy and you'll have toffee bits falling here and there. Just wipe them up with your hand and put back in the bowl as you  work. You should use the entire bag of bits on your cake.

Serve and absorb the praise!!!!

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