Salted Caramel Spice Cake (THM S)
Let me go ahead and put this out there - this cake took me two tries. Not only did it stick to my non-stick, sprayed pan (GRR!) but also the flavor needed adjusting. However, in my absolute need to make the second cake a good one (as I was running out of ingredients), I concocted this amazingly flavorful cake.
My little dude just turned 2 before Thanksgiving, and for his birthday I like to make Fall or Winter-inspired cakes. Last year, my mother-in-love made him an amazing pumpkin spice cake that he (and the rest of us) gobbled right up. This year, I wanted to do something a little different, but still keeping with a seasonal theme.
Enter - spice cake.
Warm spices are something I live for this time of year, and a newly discovered favorite addition is cardamom. Cardamom isn't warm like cinnamon or cloves - it's more floral like lavender, and complements the other spices with which it's paired.
This cake is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and molasses for a deeply intense flavor. [The cake itself is dairy free, so if you need to go that route on the frosting as well, I suggest one of the dairy-free icings (pg. 309) in the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.]
Once the layers were cooling on the rack, I soaked them with warm salted caramel sauce. [YUM.] If the layers cool before you're able to put the caramel on, that's fine too. The caramel does stiffen slightly [like a glaze, almost] once it cools to room temperature, so you won't have any issues when you try to frost. It should glide right over the glaze like a big, fluffy cream cheese blanket (Can you tell I like frosting?).
I finished it with vanilla mascarpone cream cheese frosting and chopped toasted pecans. If mascarpone cheese is unfamiliar to you, it's basically an Italian sweet, and slightly softer, version of cream cheese. It does have a few carbs with it, so I only use a touch of it in this recipe. I usually find mascarpone in the specialty cheese section of my grocery store. If you don't have it, or your grocer doesn't carry it, you can just replace it with extra cream cheese.
The layers are moist and spicy, while the frosting is fluffy and creamy; finished with crunchy pecans, and you have a real holiday winner.