chocolate cake with rosemary caramel


i officially have The Best spice cake in north carolina! and the best sweet potato biscuits, too! i entered a bunch of different cakes and baked goods into the competition at the fair, and i won first place ribbons for both of those items. i also won second place for my white chocolate chip cookies and two honorable mentions for my coconut cake and lemon poppyseed bread.

though i’m very happy with the results, i am a little disappointed that my chocolate cake didn’t win anything. i’ve worked so hard to perfect that recipe. i’m awaiting the state fair judges’ comment cards (they come by snail mail), but i suspect the cake probably got soggy in the 24 hours before the tasting.

this rosemary caramel chocolate cake is more durable than the one i submitted. i’ve sacrificed a little bit of moistness for the privilege of cutting into the cake without it completely collapsing, as my usual one does. the fragrant rosemary cuts through the sweet flavor of the caramel, and they both pair beautifully with the light italian meringue buttercream. make dis!


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • a few fresh sprigs of rosemary, plus more to garnish

for the cake, preheat the oven to 350º. grease three 6-inch round pans and line with parchment paper. in a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa, flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. set aside. in a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. add the eggs, one at a time. stir together the coffee and the water. add the dry ingredients, alternating with the coffee mixture (starting and ending with the dry ingredients). divide evenly between the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.

for the buttercream, combine the sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. place the bowl over a simmering saucepan of water and whisk occasionally, taking it off the heat when the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch. place onto the mixer’s stand and, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip for 7-10 minutes. switch out the whisk attachment for the paddle, then add the butter bit by bit, mixing as you go. beat in the vanilla.

for the caramel, place the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan. heat over high heat, occasionally swirling the pan, until it turns a golden amber color (about 8 minutes). remove the saucepan from the heat, then slowly and carefully whisk in the cream. add the butter and continue to stir until melted. add the salt and vanilla and stir to combine. add some rosemary, and stir. pour the caramel into a bowl and refrigerate it for at least an hour, then strain it through a fine mesh sieve.

to assemble, place one cake round onto a 6-inch round cake board. spread some buttercream on top, then add another round. add more buttercream, and top with the final round. crumb coat the cake, chill it, then frost it completely. pour the cooled caramel over the top, controlling the drips along the sides. finish with a crown of rosemary sprigs.


6 thoughts on “chocolate cake with rosemary caramel

  1. Congratulations Lena!! It is so exciting to see how much your cooking and baking skills have grown since 8th grade!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s