This is one of Fluff’s most popular cakes: devil’s food cake paired with salted caramel buttercream, pretzel crunch and Valrhona Caramelia crunchy pearls. It marries the sweet and salty line perfectly, with a bonus crunch coming from the pretzels.
Yield: one 8-inch layer cake
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 72 g granulated sugar
- 15 g water
- 29 g unsalted butter
- 59 g heavy cream
- Put the sugar and water in a stainless-steel, heavy-bottomed pot that has high sides. Turn the heat to medium-high. Cook until the sugar turns to a caramel color, about 10-11 minutes (watch carefully so it doesn’t burn). Turn the heat down to low and add butter (it will be very hot so be careful) and whisk until thoroughly combined. Again, being careful, add the heavy cream and whisk thoroughly. Remove from the heat and whisk thoroughly. Allow to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container and refrigerating.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
- 230 g unsalted butter, softened
- 16 g pure vanilla extract
- 10-12 g sea salt
- 375 g confectioners’ sugar
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, thoroughly mix the softened butter on low to medium speed. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix well. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar on low speed and mix until combined. Add the Salted Caramel Sauce and mix for about 3 to 4 minutes. Refrigerate the frosting for at least 30 minutes (or overnight), then place on the kitchen counter for a little while before assembling the cake.
Devil’s Food Cake
- 315 g all-purpose flour
- 7 g salt
- 6 g baking powder
- 11 g baking soda
- 106 g unsweetened cocoa powder
- 486 g granulated sugar
- 267 g canola oil
- 320 g milk
- 2 large eggs
- 6 g pure vanilla extract
- 283 g hot water
- Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Grease a half sheet pan and line with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the canola oil, milk, eggs and vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Slowly add the hot water and mix just until incorporated (the batter will be thin). Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 24 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.
- 116 grams pretzel sticks
- 65 g light brown sugar
- 31 g powdered nonfat milk
- 2-3 g kosher salt
- 76 g unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).
- Break up the pretzel sticks with your hands (the more varied the sizes, the better). Toss the pretzel pieces in a bowl with the light brown sugar, powdered milk and salt. Add the melted butter and stir to coat.
- Spread the clusters onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, at which point they should look toasted and smell buttery. Cool completely before layering in cake.
- Valrhona Caramelia crunchy pearls
- Unmold the cake onto a sheet of parchment paper, trim the edges, cutting off as little as possible. Using an 8ʺ diameter x 3ʺ high (20 x 7.6-cm) cake ring, cut out 2 full circles as close as possible to the edges of the pan. Then cut out two halves just above the full circles. Save the middle piece, as it will be used to fill in the gap of the two halves.
- Place the ring on a cake board and line with a 4ʺ (10.16-cm) high strip of acetate. Place a small dab of frosting on the cake board in the center. Layer the first full circle of cake in the bottom. Spread the buttercream on top and sprinkle with pretzel crunch and crunchy pearls. Take each half of the cake and place in the ring as close to the mold as possible. Cut the scraps to fill in the gap so the circle is complete. Repeat the process with buttercream, pretzels and crunchy pearls. Place the remaining full circle of cake on the top and gently press the cake down to fit within the acetate. Spread the buttercream on the top of the cake as smoothly as possible and decorate with pretzels and crunchy pearls. Remove the cake ring and using a small piece of tape or cute sticker, place over the open ends of the acetate to hold. Refrigerate the cake for a minimum of 4 hours. Pull the cake out of the refrigerator 1 hour before enjoying.
(This recipe appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)
About Rebecca Masson
Rebecca Masson, the owner of Fluff Bake Bar in Houston, Texas, combines her French training with American dessert sensibilities. Her time at the Hotel Le Bristol in Paris instilled in her a deep appreciation for culinary excellence. With each dessert she crafts, Rebecca taps into the power of nostalgia, evoking the familiar flavors of childhood while elevating them in a grown-up manner.