My sweet husband celebrated a birthday a few weeks ago, marking 13 years we have been celebrating birthdays together.  I wish I could say I’d made him 13 birthday cakes but I didn’t discover my love for cooking and baking until about six years ago.  In the past six years I’ve come to be pretty good at predicting what type of cakes Ben prefers.  It’s almost always chocolate and often involves toffee, caramel, or peanuts (or sometimes a combination).  This year I had several ideas for cakes I knew he would love.  I laid out all of the options and I was right – he was pretty excited about every single one of them.  And then I happened upon this cake just a couple of weeks before his birthday.  The moment I saw it, I knew it would be his choice, and as soon as I mentioned it he was decided.

Layers of dark and tender chocolate cake are sandwiched with caramel Swiss meringue buttercream.  The whole thing is covered with a silky smooth dark chocolate frosting that is out of this world, and the cake is finished off with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.  As rich as this all sounds, I think we were expecting it to be just too much, but it was actually just right.  Indulgent, certainly, but not in a make-you-feel-sick kind of way.  The quantities I used resulted in cake layers just a tad taller than I would have wanted, and consequently a towering cake.  I have corrected this in the version below to make what I think would be a better sized cake.  However, if you want a super tall cake, go ahead and increase the amount of cake batter by 25%.  We thought all the components of this cake were great, but it seemed everyone’s favorite part was the dark chocolate frosting.  It is really fantastic, and I’m sure I’ll be making it again and again.  Without a doubt, the very best bite was the corner of the slice with lots of the frosting and the sprinkle of salt.  In fact, next time I might even consider serving each slice with an additional small sprinkle of salt so the sweet-salty balance is enjoyed with every bite.  No cake could ever come close to showing Ben just how much he means to me and to our family, but if it helps make his birthday a little bit sweeter then I guess it’s a pretty good start :)

(A quick side note – thanks to my wonderful husband and biggest fan for volunteering his birthday cake for food styling and glamour shots :)  Normally I don’t slice or shoot birthday cakes before party time but Ben is always very encouraging in all matters relating to the blog, and wanted to be sure this cake got the proper treatment.  Thanks, honey.)