Today is my birthday and I’m turning a ripe 29 years old. I feel about 69 though because I’m sick and also have a bum knee.
So needless to say that I won’t be doing anything super-fun for my birthday, unless you consider ice packs exciting!
When I was a teenager, my loving mother always made me this cake that she called “The Better Than Sex Cake” for my birthday. Every year my friends and I would request a huge one and just gorge ourselves on it.
Of course, the irony is that none of would find out for a good many years that this cake is not, in fact, better than sex. Some of my high school friends still might not get it…
Anyway, it’s a very delicious cake and one that will be a show stopper at any party you take it to.
For caramel sauce:
1) Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 2 quart pot (you need a much bigger pot because it will expand). Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently.
2) Once sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbling, turn heat down to low and let simmer, without stirring, until mixture turns a dark amber color, about 8-10 minutes.
3) Once sugar is the dark amber color, immediately remove from heat and carefully stir in warmed cream. It will bubble and fizz like crazy.
4) Stir until smooth, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add in butter and stir until smooth.
5) Stir in pinch of salt and vanilla. If mixture has any chunks in it at all, return to heat briefly (low heat) and stir until the mixture smooths out.
6) Cool and set aside until needed.
1) In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.
2) In a saucepan, melt together butter and cocoa powder. Once smooth, stir in boiling water.
3) Add cocoa powder mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine.
4) In a separate bowl, whip together eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla.
5) Stir buttermilk mixture into batter. Try not to overmix it but make sure all the flour is mixed in.
6) Prepare your baking pan by buttering it lightly and dusting it with cocoa powder.
7) Add batter to pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until a tester comes out clean in the center of the cake.
Finishing the Cake:
1) When cake comes out of the oven, poke a bunch of holes in it with a chopstick.
2) Mix the sweetened condensed milk with the caramel sauce and pour the mixture over the cake. Use a spatula to scrape the sauce back and forth so the sauce gets completely absorbed by the cake.
3) Let the cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
4) Chill cake for at least an hour, but preferably a few hours.
5) Whip cream with sugar and vanilla until it forms stiff peaks and then frost cake with fresh whipped cream. Top with crumbled heath bars or chocolate chips!
Ok. So the original recipe for this cake just used an entire jar of the store-bought caramel sauce. You can definitely just use one of those if you want, but you know I’m a sucker for homemade.
Making this sauce is actually pretty easy as long as you can avoid burning your sugar (something that I almost did).
Just start it off by adding the sugar, corn syrup, and water into a large 2 quart pot. It might seem like a ridiculously huge pot for that much stuff, but as you can see from the below photos, there’s a step where it bubbles up like crazy.
Melt all this stuff together over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is all dissolved. Once it starts simmer, turn your heat down to medium-low and then just let it cook down. There’s no need to even stir it. In fact, if you do stir it, it’ll all stick to your spoon!
When your sugar is a dark amber color (top right photo below), it’s done. Actually mine might be just a shade too dark so if you can stop it a little before I did mine, that would be best.
Anyway, immediately take it off the heat and slowly stir in the warm cream. This is kind of a crazy step because it will bubble like mad, but just stir it and it will eventually calm down and smooth out.
Next, fold your butter into the sauce. There should be enough residual heat to melt it. Then add in the salt and vanilla and you should have a very smooth sauce. If there are any lumps in the sauce, just put it back over low heat and cook it slowly, stirring constantly, until the lumps cook out.
When the caramel is cooled, go ahead and stir in the sweetened condensed milk and set it aside for later.
This is some addictively sweet and delicious sauce!
The Actual Cake
I’m pretty positive that my mom used boxed German chocolate cake mix for my childhood version of this cake. And trust me… that works. It’s easy and very delicious.
I decided to go with a great chocolate sheet cake recipe that I’ve been meaning to try for a while.
Start by mixing the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
Then in a small pot, melt the butter and cocoa powder until the mixture is very smooth. Then stir in the boiling water. I was skeptical of this step, but it worked!
Then pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients. This will cool down the wet ingredients. Mix it all together, but, as with any cake, try not to over-mix it.
Then in a separate bowl, stir together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and baking soda.
Next, fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture.
Pour this into your baking pan and you’re all set.
Normally, for cakes, I recommend coating the pan really well in butter and then dusting it with flour, but for a chocolate cake, use cocoa powder instead of flour or you’ll have a weird white ring around the edge of your cake.
The Magic Part
Bake the cake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. A tester should come out clean from the center of the cake.
Now for the fun part!
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, poke a bunch of holes in it while it’s still warm. I used a chopstick for this, but anything round will work really.
Then take your caramel sauce mixture and pour it all over the cake!
Use a spatula to kind of smooth it around so it seeps evenly into the cake.
Let it sit for about 30 minutes and all of the caramel mixture will disappear into the cake!
As you might imagine, this makes the center of the cake a bit on the gooey side which is just delicious.
Topping the Cake
Before you top this cake, chill it for at least an hour in the fridge. You just don’t want to add fresh whipped cream to a hot cake or it’ll melt all over the place.
Speaking of fresh whipped cream, just whip together the cream with the sugar and vanilla until it forms stiff peaks. You could use a mixer for this, but I prefer to rock it out by hand.
Then just spread this all over the cake!
I really like using the whipped cream as a frosting because it’s really light when the rest of the cake is pretty rich and heavy.
I topped mine with some crumbled Heath bars, but you could also just use chocolate chips.
It might look like a normal cake, but trust me, it’s magical.
You can kind of see it in a cross-section piece of cake, but there are these veins of caramel all through the cake that are surprising and wonderful.
So I’m not sure that this cake is actually better than sex, but I can promise you that it’s very, very good and definitely better than ice packs.