A Late Snack: Caramel Swirl Cake

I made a caramel swirl layer cake with salted caramel ganache for Mother’s Day brunch last week.

I adapted the white layer cake recipe from Epicurious, which you can find at this link. Or use your own preferred white cake recipe. The adaptation was swirling salted caramel ganache into the cake batter before putting it into the oven.

Salted Caramel Ganache

8 ounces of caramels (If you have a recipe for caramels you like and want to do the work, then make them. If there is a for purchase caramels that you like, then save yourself some time and effort and buy them.)

8 ounces of heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Kosher salt to taste

Place 8 ounces of caramels in a mixing bowl. Scald the cream and vanilla extract and pour it over the caramels. Because caramels don’t melt like chocolate does, place the mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water as a double boiler. Let the scalded cream sit on the caramels in the double bowler till the caramels are soft enough to whisk the hot cream into, then whisk them together to make the ganache. Add kosher salt to taste, or if you like your caramel unsalted, leave it out. I won’t call the food police. Swirl the caramel ganache into the cake batter after it has been poured into the cake pans and then bake per the recipe’s instruction. They should look something like this:

Once the cakes are done and cool, make another batch of caramel ganache and set it aside until it comes to room temperature. Then whip another 8 ounces of heavy whipping cream till you get stiff peaked whipped cream. Fold the room temperature caramel ganache into the whipped cream to make caramel mousse.

Turn the cake out onto a round, then frost the top of the first layer with mousse. Place the second layer on top, then frost the top of that and the sides of the whole cake. Then place in the refrigerator. Make one last 1/2 batch of the caramel ganache – just 1/2 everything in the recipe – and let it cool to room temperature. Remove the cake from the refrigerator, and pour the ganache over the top and smoothing it out over the top and the sides with a spatula. Then sprinkle the top with kosher salt or whatever your preferred finishing salt is.


Then slice and enjoy!

Stay hungry!

Open thread.


58 replies
  1. 1
    lollipopguild says:

    I thought that Balloon Juice was anti-torture?

  2. 2
    ruemara says:

    I gained 3 lbs just reading this.

  3. 3
    Chacal Charles Calthrop says:

    sorry, but as an amateur cook I am confused.
    I thought caramel was always just cooked sugar, see, e.g. https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/09/how-to-make-a-basic-easy-caramel-sauce.html>

    So what are these caramels you purchase? Candies?

  4. 4
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @lollipopguild: Balloon Juice is not a signatory to the Geneva Conventions against torture. Which explains most of the comments…//

  5. 5
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @ruemara: You’re welcome!

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Chacal Charles Calthrop: There’s a difference between caramel and caramels. And even with making caramel as a sauce, unless you have some experience with making sugar based candy, you can quite easily have a rough time.

  7. 7
    Chacal Charles Calthrop says:

    @Adam L Silverman: ok thanks.

  8. 8
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @ruemara: 1) couldn’t bake that if I wanted to
    2) If I could, it would be a single serving

  9. 9
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Chacal Charles Calthrop: Correct. Or you can make them yourself.

  10. 10
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    2) If I could, it would be a single serving

    It is very rich, so I don’t think you could eat the whole thing in a single sitting.

  11. 11
    Mike J says:

    I made churros yesterday, but I think I screwed up using an open star tip on the pastry bag instead of a closed star tip.

  12. 12
    ruemara says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I did one cake that was apple with a caramel filling and a caramel glaze. It was too good. I can’t imagine what this would be like and I am very glad I’m on a healthy eating kick right now. It looks fabulous and dammit Adam.

  13. 13
    tobie says:

    This cake is not good for my waistline but YUM!

  14. 14
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @ruemara: It was very, very rich.

  15. 15
    🌎 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) πŸ—³ 🌷 says:

    Why must most things that taste delicious be so bad for us?

    That’s looks really good! Excellent job, Chef Adam!

  16. 16
    🌎 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) πŸ—³ 🌷 says:

    In other news I finally received my union membership card. I am now officially a union thug!

  17. 17
    chris says:

    It was only a small slip, Doc. Maybe 5000 calories over the line.

    A beautiful thing, Adam.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Ruckus says:

    I can feel my A1C rising just looking at the pictures. Actually I can feel it shooting up like a Saturn V.

  20. 20
    Adam L Silverman says:

    I’m gonna go rub doggie bellies and watch TV. Catch you all later.

  21. 21
    Yarrow says:

    Wow! That is gorgeous. I’m sure I’m now on a sugar high after looking at it.

  22. 22
    🌎 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) πŸ—³ 🌷 says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    I’m pretty proud of it. I don’t mind paying a little out of my paycheck every week for the rights I enjoy as a worker.

    How’s your job hunting going by the way?

  23. 23
    HRA says:

    I think you meant to say remove the cake from the refrigerator for the last step and no the oven.

  24. 24

    @🌎 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) πŸ—³ 🌷: got a couple coding interviews this week, another phone screen in the pipeline too. We shall see.

  25. 25
    rikyrah says:

    Lawd hammercy!!
    Delicious πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

  26. 26
    🌎 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) πŸ—³ 🌷 says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    Good luck. Did you say you were looking to relocate to NYC?

  27. 27
    jl says:

    Thanks for great and delicious looking cake.
    And thanks for the recipe. If I could cook things like that without creating a disaster I would try it.
    But who knows, maybe I will. Downloaded to put with some other nice BJ baked goods recipes.

    But.. “Then slice and enjoy!”
    That didn’t work for me. I don’t know about other BJ commenters. It brings up the BJ ‘full service blog’ scandal again. Need a blogger ethics panel for that one.

  28. 28
    Yutsano says:

    @🌎 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) πŸ—³ 🌷: Hail Brother! Welcome to union protection life!

  29. 29
  30. 30
    Juju says:

    There seems to be only one flaw with your cake. I see absolutely no chocolate at all.

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:

    I got my scoresheets and annotated pages back from the last contest (which I already knew I had not finaled in) and I came in 11th, which is better than my 15th place finish next last time.

    I skimmed the scoresheets and they pretty much say what I suspected (pacing is too slow), so now I’m thinking of plowing ahead with the rewrites I already have planned and looking back at the critiques when I’m ready to revise those first 20 pages. πŸ€”

  32. 32
    Kelly says:

    A pound caramels used to be a standard item for a weekend camping trip. Ate the whole bag every time. Usually lost weight anyway. I miss the metabolism I had in my 20’s.

  33. 33
    Mike J says:


    I miss the metabolism I had in my 20’s.

    I shouldn’t have stopped smoking. Other than the breathing and dying.

  34. 34

    @Mike J: I hear heroin is great for losing weight without all the respiratory problems.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I’ve been given a couple of different prescription medications that often cause weight loss. Never lost so much as an ounce.

  36. 36
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @HRA: Thanks for catching that. I’ve fixed it.

  37. 37
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Juju: Just swap out the caramel ganache for chocolate ganache if you prefer.

  38. 38
    TriassicSands says:

    Adam*, no sugar or calories in that cake, are there?

    Stay Hungry!

    Don’t you mean “Stay Skinny?”

    It looks like you did an excellent job putting that together. Well done.

    *Oops, I was just talking to a friend about someone named Alan. That’s why I originally wrote “Alan.”

    Note: it’s just wrong to publish photos of cake at this time of night. Wrong I say.

  39. 39
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TriassicSands: I had the post finished and ready to publish around 9. There hadn’t been one for a while and when I started drafting it no one was working on another one. Then Cheryl did her’s before I could hit publish and then Cole bigfooted Cheryl. So I decided to wait till 11 or so to publish it. Sorry…

  40. 40
    Ruckus says:


    I miss the metabolism I had in my 20’s.

    Don’t we all. Hell I miss the metabolism I had in my 50s. Fifteen yrs ago I weighed 30 lbs less than I do now which was less than 10 lbs more than I weighed in my 20s. A life of sloth isn’t what it used to be.

  41. 41
    TriassicSands says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Heroin causes respiratory suppression, which is why it kills people. The best weight loss plan is untreated Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Of course, you probably won’t want to live.

  42. 42
    Ruckus says:

    It’s always wrong to publish photos of desserts.
    It’s the one thing it’s good to be wrong about.

  43. 43
    Mel says:

    @Adam L Silverman: It is never the wrong time for a post with photos and a recipe that look so delicious!!

    Have you ever baked any desserts from Marcel DeSaulniers’s cookbooks? He was one of the owners of The Trellis Restaurant (in Williamsburg, Va.).

    I think you might enjoy some of the cake recipes. The Pecan Sour Mash Bash is my favorite: a huge cake composed of many layers of wonderful Bourbon soaked pecan cake, filled with several kinds of filling (ganaches, chocolate mousse, etc. ) and finished with a gorgeous, shiny chocolate ganache.

    And then there’s the Chocolate Bourbon Sauce (cream, chocolate, butter, bourbon – LOTS of bourbon!) for drizzling on each cake slice before serving. Or for sipping from Dixie Cups, which is what my fellow teachers did with the sauce every time I took it to work for our holiday party. Eventually, I just started making about 8 cups of the sauce to take, and putting most of it in a pitcher.
    Easier than our clumsy early attempts to serve it as a beverage from clunky round Gladware! Have chocolate Bourbon, will evolve!!

  44. 44
    TriassicSands says:


    Yes, but the real problem is to do so late at night when humans are not supposed to eat. I’m pretty sure there’s something in the Constitution about that. Thus, it may not just be “wrong,” it may be treason. (Especially since pretty much everything Trump doesn’t like he eventually calls treason.)

  45. 45
    Mel says:

    @Ruckus: How have you been?

    Now that I am sitting here with thoughts of baking gigantic cakes keeping me from sleep, I suspect that are correct: cake photos are cruel and unusual punishment if one doesn’t have the real thing or the time to make it!

  46. 46
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mel: I think I’ve got one of his books, “Death by Chocolate”?

  47. 47
    Mel says:

    @opiejeanne: That’s definitely one of his! I think that’s the one with the bourbon pecan cake recipe.

    He also has a recipe for a lemon cheesecake with a citrus cookie crust and a fresh blueberry topping that is out of this world. That one is my Dad’s birthday request every year.

  48. 48

    @🌎 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) πŸ—³ 🌷:

    I am now officially a union thug!

    Hope Steve in the (where ever the fuck he is) doesn’t read this thread.

  49. 49
    J R in WV says:

    @🌎 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) πŸ—³ 🌷:

    Which union… Wife and I were CWA, different locals, all our working lives. She was elected Secretary-Treasurer of her nation-wide local several times, so Senior Thug. I was just an old thug. Amusingly, a week or two after Reagan was in office, Wife got a personal call from a senior worker bee in the Dept of Labor, when the newly empowered Labor regulator told Ms Wife that if they could find something, anything wrong with her reports, (she signed the reports to the govt about budgets and dues and income etc as both Sec and Treas!) she, Reagan Labor Regulator would personally see to it that we lost out homes as part of the fines and prison sentence she — Reagan Labor Regulator — would personnally apply to MS Wife.

    After she was flabergasted with the naked hostile intent, the complete lack of balance and awareness of the regulations she, the Reagan Labor Regulator, was required to follow. And enraged. So energized to hate and fight Reagan and everyone who worked for him. Has been like that ever since about Republican anti-labor tools. So worked out well with current administration.

    But congratulations on joining a union, your first union. There will others as your career changes. Ms Wife and I were both odd in today’s world, we mostly worked for the same big outfits all our careers. You’re working while in school for a different career, medical nursing, IIRC, so as an RN you may have a different union card after graduating and passing your boards. It feels great to have union brothers and sisters to have your back when management tries to fuck with you. Not if, when…!!

  50. 50
    J R in WV says:


    The past few days I’ve made two big desserts, first a Meyer Lemon pound cake with raspberries in the batter. Tart!

    Then last afternoon I made double fudge brownies with two bags of pecans in it, for dessert after dinner, which was the evening of our 47th anniversary. Also had yellow rice and sauteed lobster tails in lemon garlic butter wine sauce and 2010 gran cru Champagne I had been saving for a special occasion – like some one we know getting a new federal indictment, or something like that. I can always get another bottle, stash it in the fridge in back like this bottle was for months. We had a nice quiet day around the farm, watched the Billboards Music Awards, candle light dinner. So nice.

  51. 51
    JPL says:

    @J R in WV: It sounds lovely.

  52. 52
    Aleta says:

    @J R in WV: Congratulations. 47 years of love is awesome.

    (+ May you celebrate many indictments to come.)

  53. 53
    WaterGirl says:

    @J R in WV: Congratulations! What a lovely way to celebrate.

  54. 54
    opiejeanne says:

    @J R in WV: Congratulations! Our 49th will be two days after Christmas, and yes, I was a child bride.

  55. 55
    Barbara says:

    I am impressed that you were able to keep the layers from sliding around and that the finished product is so neat. I don’t know why, but my fondness for sweets tends to lean towards sharper flavors (sometimes I overdo it). Spicy gingerbread or a limoncello cake, for instance. Something about needing a counterpoint to the sugary sweetness, and salt won’t do it.

  56. 56
    Shana says:

    @ruemara: There’s a cake similar (I think) to yours that I make every year for Rosh Hashannah. I don’t know how to link but on Epicurious it’s called “Apple Cake with Caramel Topping”. I even bought a Star of David-shaped bundt pan for just this cake. FYI, I substitute margarine for the butter and soy milk for the milk in order to make it pareve since we keep kosher.

  57. 57
    Barbara says:

    For anyone still reading, Slate Magazine asked pastry chefs to recommend baking books for the home baker: Results.

  58. 58
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    This is the sort of thread you could build an entire cookbook around –

    one titled Death to Diabetics!

    :p to sucrophiles of any political persuasion.

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