My Recipe Box

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cinnamon-Caramel Ganache Filling


Serves twelve to sixteen.

Make the filling and the frosting first, letting the former chill and the latter thicken slightly at room temperature while the cake is baking and cooling.

For the filling:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3-inch cinnamon stick, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 4-1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate (up to 62% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
For the frosting:
  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% or 72% cacao), chopped medium fine
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • Pinch table salt
For the cake:
  • 1-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 6 oz. (1-1/2 cups) cake flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) slightly softened unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten and at room temperature
Make the filling

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream, cinnamon, salt, and 2 Tbs. water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Off the heat, cover and steep for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, put the chocolate in a medium bowl and set a fine strainer over it.

Pour 1/4 cup water into a heavy-duty 3-quart saucepan. Pour the sugar in the center of the pan and pat it down until evenly moistened (there should be clear water all around the sugar). Cover the pan and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 4 minutes. Uncover and cook without stirring until the syrup begins to color slightly, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, swirling the pot gently if the syrup colors unevenly.

When the caramel turns reddish amber, 1 to 2 minutes longer, take the pan off the heat and immediately stir in the cream mixture. Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel is completely dissolved, 1 to 3 minutes.

Pour the caramel cream through the strainer onto the chocolate and discard the cinnamon. Whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Scrape into a wide, shallow bowl, cover loosely, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

Make the frosting

Put the chocolate, butter, corn syrup, and salt in a heatproof bowl set in a skillet of barely simmering water. Stir gently until the chocolate melts and the mixture is perfectly smooth. Off the heat, stir in 6 Tbs. cool water. Let cool and thicken at room temperature without stirring for at least 3 hours. The consistency should be like chocolate pudding.

Make the cake

Line the bottoms of three 9x2-inch round cake pans with parchment. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven if the three pans will fit on it. Otherwise, position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa and 1/2 cup lukewarm water. In a liquid measuring cup, mix the buttermilk with 1/2 cup cool water. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt and sift them three times onto a sheet of parchment.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 15 seconds. Add the sugars gradually, beating until the mixture lightens in color and appears sandy but fluffy, about 5 minutes total. Dribble the eggs in a little at a time, taking a full minute to add them. Continue to beat for a few seconds until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.

Stop the mixer and add the cocoa mixture. Beat on medium speed just until combined. Stop the mixer and, using the parchment as a chute, add about one-quarter of the flour. Mix on low speed just until incorporated. Stop the mixer and add one-third of the buttermilk. Mix just until blended. Repeat, stopping the mixer between additions and scraping the bowl as necessary, until the remaining flour and buttermilk are mixed in.

Divide the batter evenly among the pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes (if baking on two levels, rotate the upper and lower pans halfway through baking). Cool the cakes on racks for 5 minutes and then turn onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.

Assemble the cake

Beat the chilled filling in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at medium speed until it's very thick and stiff enough to hold a shape but still spreadable, 1 to 2 minutes. Don't over beat. Put a cake layer upside down on a cardboard cake circle or tart pan bottom. Spread half of the filling evenly all the way to the edge of the layer. Top with a second upside-down layer and gently press in place. Spread with the remaining filling. Top with the third layer, again upside down. Smooth any filling protruding from the sides.

Frost the cake

With an offset spatula, spread a very thin layer (about 1/2 cup) of frosting evenly over the top and sides of the assembled cake to smooth the surface, glue on crumbs, and fill cracks. (Stirring the frosting more than necessary dulls the finish and makes it set up too hard.) Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides of the cake, swirling the surface with the spatula if desired. Top with the chocolate shards (if using) and serve at room temperature.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 430, Fat (kcal): 26, Fat Calories (g): 240, Saturated Fat (g): 16, Protein (g): 4, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8, Carbohydrates (mg): 49, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 1, Sodium (g): 190, Cholesterol (g): 90, Fiber (g): 3,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Made this for a few birthdays for young and older-all loved it! The filling is really good-just a hint of cinnamon. Had no problems with the frosting-this is a good birthday cake-never have left overs with this one.

The frosting is grainy and so stiff it tore apart the cake. The filling is too sweet without being noticeably cinnamon or caramel flavored. In the end, it was a really sweet cake with an exterior I wish I had either left off or replaced with a tried and true ganache recipe.

This is such a fabulous recipe. I like a project cake and this is one but none of the parts are that onerous. The filling is truly wonderful with complex flavors - very satisfying to see it come together. A keeper recipe. The video for the chocolate curls is very well done and I had a lot of fun decorating my cake with them - don't skip that part - it looks beautiful and it's very easy to do. I wrote a description and posted some photos on my blog about this recipe. Here is a link:

Fantastic cake! One of the best chocolate cakes I have ever made. It's my go to recipe when I want a show-stopper that's really impressive. The ganache is heavenly; a perfect balance of cinnamon and caramel which heightens chocolate cake to a new level. It is a bit time consuming but well worth the effort. And yes, the cooled ganache is like soup but transforms, when whipped to increase it's volume, into this luscious spread that covers the cake layers beautifully. Your recipes always prove to be outstanding. Thank you so much! Another winner!

WARNING...MAKE AT YOUR OWN RISK AND TIME !!! I feel I am a seasoned baker, I have been baking with Fine Cooking recipes for over 8 years now. I know these recipes take alot of time, but the filling was like SOUP, I should of listened to the other comments about the filling. I was supposed to take this to a New Years Eve Party....oh well I guess we will stop for chips and dip. Very disappointed !!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm on the fence on this one. I think it sounds better than it tasted. Actually it tasted good but it sounds great. Plus it was a really time consuming recipe for the payoff. I love the idea of the cinnamon-caramel ganache but I thought the flavor of the caramel was hidden. On the positive side I had absolutely no problems with the consistency of the icing, which I was worried about from the reviews below. It firmed up nicely as did the ganache. My co-workers gave it lots of compliments so I will probably try it again.

A rich cake with very intense flavour. As others have mentioned,I could not get the frosting to was still runny when I attempted to frost the assembled cake so I poured it on the top and let it drip down the sides. The filling whipped up nice and stiff but the cinnamon flavour was very intense and seemed a little strange in contrast to the chocolate. I would make this again but would use a flavouring other than cinnamon.

To die for! Cooking time: Plan two days or one full day. Absolutely worth it! It's not very hard, just time consuming.

Tricky but delicious recipe! I had to follow it to the letter to make sure it turned out right... LOL I used Bakers 60% semisweet chocolate for the filling and a Ghirardelli 72% chocolate baking bar for the ganache layer on top, and actually doubled the recipe to make it twice as rich. I put curly shavings on top and placed leftover triangular pieces of the chocolate bar upright in the center for aesthetics. This was one of the most delicious recipes I've ever made. It got rave reviews and was absolutely amazing. I will definitely be making it again!

This cake is fantastic!! I made it for Christmas and it got rave reviews from everyone. I agree that you must make sure to beat the filling enough so that the cake won't slide around. I used nestle semi-sweet chips in the filling and 60% cocoa chips in the frosting (it was the highest percentage I could find) and it was great.

The cake turned out to be really moist, yet the layers were light-weight and porous. The wipped cream filling is prepared after it has been refrigerated, so once you actually start eating the cake, the filling tastes almost like chocolate ice-cream. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Thanks for the recipe!

This recipe is great! It's pretty intense, but the result is fantastic and the instructions are really good.

Fabulous cake!! I wasn't sure if the cinnamon caramel filling would taste good but it was divine. I didn't beat mine quite enough so the cake was sliding around a little during cutting since the filling was a little on the soft side so don't underbeat either! I don't have 3 9" pans so I used 3 8" pans and it turned out fine, just stood a little taller than in the photo

Amazing chocolate cake! I've made it three times and everyone loved it. Someone even said it would be the "highlight of the meal at a five star restaurant."

Amazing chocolate cake! I've made it three times and everyone loved it. Someone even said it would be the "highlight of the meal at a five star restaurant."

I'm about to make this. Does this really make enough batter for three 9" pans? Doesn't seem like it would.

This is the BEST chocolate cake ever. It's quite big for just the two of us, so my husband brought left-overs to work the next day and people raved about how moist it was, the flavors, and the texture. One guy left it out for half an hour, came back, and it was still moist. Other people wanted the recipe. One note: This cake is easy to make, but time-consuming. Just follow the directions as written, and in the end, it'll make you look like a rock star.

The cake and filling were WONDERFUL. The frosting... well, I had a hard time with that. It set up quite hard, no doubt because I stirred it too much when I stirred in the water. (I wish there had been a warning about that in the "make the frosting" part of the recipe, rather than at the end where you frost the cake!) I ended up dividing the filling into thirds and used it to fill and frost the top of the cake. There wasn't enough to frost the sides, but I think it looked rather beautiful anyway. Honestly, the frosting would have been overkill, in my opinion. I'll be making this again, but I won't bother with the frosting!

Have been purchasing your magazine since 1989 and it is the most helpful cooking magazine ever! You show by photo and by explaining exactly how to achieve the end results. I have made this cake twice in the last two months and always get rave reviews and never any leftovers. Thank you for making me a better cook!

Oh dear! Send sedatives, stat. I made this exactly as written but the layers came out thin, about 1/2-3/4" thick, (maybe they're supposed to be that thin) the frosting was initially the consistency of pudding but set up hard, which might have something to do with the caramel. The cinnamon stick imparted an off taste to the filling and it didn't set up. My roommate and I ate the cake without any embellishments, and it deserves at least one star. I've been baking for years, and just can't figure out why this went so terribly wrong. Sigh! Open to suggestions from those who have made this successfully.

I have baked this cake and it was good, but not outstanding as I expected.

I couldn't get the filling to set even after hours. I must say the filling tasted heavenly, but still had to be tossed. I used a chocolate labeled "dark" rather then "bittersweet", with 54% cacao. However from everything I understand bittersweet is considered a dark chocolate so that shouldn't have mattered. I left it for 6 hours to set and it was just to liquidey. For me the cake was not a success. And actually for an article on chocolate I wish there had been more explanation, ie, is there a difference between dark chocolate and bittersweet?

Excellent was moist and full of flavor. The only draw back was the length of time to prepare.

Delicious! My husband, who is not a big sweets-eater, said this was the best cake he had ever tasted. Not fast to make, but worth the effort.

I thought I would like the filling much better than I did. Something about the combination of the caramel, cinnamon and chocolate did not work for me. Others liked it but I was disappointed.

Wow! what a cake. Rich, moist, and so full of chocolate. I've been searching for years for this recipe. Every recipe I've attempted from your team always turns out perfect. Thank you for your research.

Typically I am not a dark chocolate person yet this cake appeared to be worth the effort. It was! The group of friends I served it to are still calling with compliments and requests for the recipe. Make the chocolate shards it really completes the look.

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