2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 3 tablespoons
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 2 whole vanilla beans, scraped)
½ cup + 1 tablespoon of unsweetened, dark cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Dark)
1 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp sea salt
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
Beat together 2/3 cup oil and sugar until emulsified (sugar looks less granular), about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir together cocoa and the remaining 3 TB of oil and beat into sugar mixture until well combined. Add 3 eggs, one at at time. Beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Sift together flour, soda and salt. Stir into cocoa batter, alternating with with buttermilk until well-combined. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Do not overbeat. Oil 13x9x2 inch baking pan with non-stick baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until center bounces back when touched. Let cool. The plus-side of this recipe, is that if the cake falls, it is okay! You are just going to mash it up anyway.
Salted Caramel Icing
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons heavy cream
9 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean, scraped)
Melt ingredients in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Cool and beat in 2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar. Add salt and vanilla.
PREPARATION FOR CAKE BALLS
Place cake in a large mixing bowl, pour icing over the cake and mix together with a large fork. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Using a 2-oz ice cream scoop, scoop into balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Freeze overnight. Measure 4 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Place a stainless steel bowl over a small pot of low-boiling water, put chocolate in bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until melted.
Quickly dip frozen cake balls into chocolate and with 2 forks shake off the excess chocolate and place on wax paper. If chocolate starts to harden, place back on pot of boiling water to temper. Sprinkle cake balls with Mediterranean sea salt. Allow to cool. Serve in cupcake baking liners with warm caramel and whipped cream.
REBEKAH PIZANA is a professional food writer, pastry chef and licensed business owner. Her pastry work through Gourmet Amore has been published in Brides Maryland and Brides Washington, D.C., (Condé Nast Publications) and by the online wedding magazine, StyleMePretty.com.