CHOCOLATE + SALTED DULCE DE LECHE GRAVEYARD CAKE

Chocolate + Salted Dulce De Leche Graveyard Cake w/ Meringue Bones || A decadent layer cake for Halloween. Rich moist chocolate cake layered with salted caramel, dark chocolate frosting and meringue bones for decoration.  || creamandhoney.ca

My life is buzzing with Halloween excitement and busyness with many to-do lists. I've haven't had much time to write a post, but this cake needs an internet space to call home before Halloween is here in case any of you need a little inspiration or a recipe for an amazingly moist chocolate cake. I'm not just saying that, it is physically difficult to stop eating it.

So instead of writing-writing, I decided to make more lists. Halloween lists.

Chocolate + Salted Dulce De Leche Graveyard Cake w/ Meringue Bones || A decadent layer cake for Halloween. Rich moist chocolate cake layered with salted caramel, dark chocolate frosting and meringue bones for decoration.  || creamandhoney.ca

Best Halloween Candy

  • Any brand name chocolate bar. Kit Kat, M&Ms, Bounty, Crunchie, Cookies and Cream, Crispy Crunch, Oh Henry, Twix, Milky Way, Wunderbar, etc. No imitations welcome please. 
  • Chips (except plain. No one wants plain. Unless it's with dip.)
  • Swedish berries
  • Skittles
  • Fuzzy peaches
  • Rockets! People either love them or hate them. They get all the love from me.
  • Nerds
  • Starburst
  • Anything sour
  • Ring pops
  • Caramels
  • Candy necklaces forever!!!

Worst Halloween Candy

  • Candy corn. Can we just stop making these already?! I have never met anyone who actually like candy corn. Honestly, never. 
  • Black licorice. Don't ever, for any reason, under any circumstances, no matter what, no matter who they are, no matter where they're from or who they were with, whatsoever, give anyone black licorice. Period.
  • Tootsie rolls. They are brown, but NOT chocolate?!?! I have never and will never understand WHAT flavour tootsie roll is supposed to be?! I feel like this candy was the best you could get in the Great Depression but they forgot to stop making it once all the better candy and chocolate came out afterwards. Also. They look like little poops. 

 

Chocolate + Salted Dulce De Leche Graveyard Cake w/ Meringue Bones || A decadent layer cake for Halloween. Rich moist chocolate cake layered with salted caramel, dark chocolate frosting and meringue bones for decoration.  || creamandhoney.ca

Best Halloween Movies

  • Beetlejuice
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Ghostbusters
  • Casper
  • Addams Family + Addams Family Values
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas. The best part about this movie is if you miss it at Halloween, it also doubles as a Christmas movie.
  • The Witch (2015)
  • The Witches (1990)
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Friday the 13th
  • From Dusk Till Dawn
  • Scream
  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Halloween (duh)
  • Practical Magic
  • Young Frankenstein
Chocolate + Salted Dulce De Leche Graveyard Cake w/ Meringue Bones || A decadent layer cake for Halloween. Rich moist chocolate cake layered with salted caramel, dark chocolate frosting and meringue bones for decoration.  || creamandhoney.ca
Halloween, age 6. Those eyebrows though... 

Halloween, age 6. Those eyebrows though... 

Other Best Things About Halloween 

  • Jack-o-lanterns
  • Parties!!!
  • Costumes
  • Pumpkin flavoured everything
  • Haunted Houses
  • Spooky decorations
  • Day of the Dead
  • Throwing out candy corn

Worst Things About Halloween

  • People who choose trick" when you say trick or treat at the door. Just give me candy and no one will get hurt, okay?! Okay! 
  • The stories about staples or needles or poison in Halloween candy. Did this really happen or did someone just make it up so Halloween is scarier? If so, kudos to you, creepy person.
Pineapple jack-o-lanterns this year just because. 

Pineapple jack-o-lanterns this year just because. 

Chocolate + Salted Dulce De Leche Graveyard Cake w/ Meringue Bones || A decadent layer cake for Halloween. Rich moist chocolate cake layered with salted caramel, dark chocolate frosting and meringue bones for decoration.  || creamandhoney.ca
Chocolate + Salted Dulce De Leche Graveyard Cake w/ Meringue Bones || A decadent layer cake for Halloween. Rich moist chocolate cake layered with salted caramel, dark chocolate frosting and meringue bones for decoration.  || creamandhoney.ca

CHOCOLATE + SALTED DULCE DE LECHE GRAVEYARD CAKE

t h e   m a g i c 

i n s p i r a t i o n :             HALLOWEEN + DAY OF THE DEAD

t h e   f e e l s :                     Rich, moist, indulgent + spooky (of course) 

e a t   w i t h :                       Red wine, bourbon, espresso, tea, milk

m i g h t   l i k e   i f   y o u ' r e   i n t o :             cemeteries, horror movies, The Nightmare Before                                                                                                       Christmas, grave rubbings, Nosferatu, Dia de los                                                                                                         Muertos,  The Ramones.

t h e   s c i e n c e 

I suggest making either the meringue bones OR the cake (and freezing) a day or two in advance just to break things up and make things easier. You can keep the meringue bones in an airtight container. 

makes three 6-inch x 2-inch round layers (I only used 2 layers for this cake and froze the other for my next intense chocolate craving).

CAKE (adapted from Rosie Alyea's The Sweetapolita Bakebook)

i n g r e d i e n t s :

  • 320 g (approx. 2.5 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 520 g (approx. 2.5 cups) sugar
  • 120 g (1 cup) dutch-process dark cocoa powder (must be dutch process and not regular cocoa powder, there is a big difference. I buy mine at bulk stores. Click here to have Joy the Baker tell you the difference. She knows all.) 
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea or himalayan salt
  • 1.5 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup hot coffee or espresso
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

filling 

  • 1 can of dulce de leche (homemade or store bought) Learn how to make your own here
  • 1/4 tsp sea or himalayan salt (plus more to taste)

frosting (makes 4 cups)

  • 225 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature (if your butter is cold, you can speed this process up by cutting the butter up into cubes onto a plate.)
  • 500 g (4 cups) icing sugar
  • 120 g (1 cup) dutch-process dark cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup (optional, for shine)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond extract
  • pinch of sea salt

m e t h o d :

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom of three 6 x 2 inch (OR 8 x 1.5 inch) round cake pans and line with parchment paper.
  2. Add all dry ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt). Sift together with hand whisk or whisk attachment. 
  3. Whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large measuring glass with a spout. Slowly add hot coffee to milk mixture while whisking constantly. Turn electric mixer onto low speed and gradually add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and beat for about one minute, until the batter is smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for 10 seconds if needed. Divide the batter evenly between all three baking pans. 
  4. Bake in the centre of the oven until a wooden toothpick is inserted into the middle of cake and comes out with a few or no crumbs, (between 35-40 minutes)
  5. Let cake layers cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife or offset spatula and turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Filling + Frosting

  1. While cakes are baking, scoop out dulce de leche into a bowl and add 1/4 tsp salt. Mix together and taste. Add more to your desired taste. Set aside.
  2. Add beater attachment to mixer. In bowl of electric mixer, add the butter and beat on medium for about 8 minutes or until very pale and creamy. 
  3. Meanwhile in another large bowl, add icing sugar and cocoa powder and sift together with whisk until evenly blended. When butter is ready, put the mixer on low speed and gradually add the icing sugar mixture. Then gradually add the milk, water, corn syrup, vanilla extract, almond extract and salt. Beat for 1 minute and then increase the speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes until the frosting is fluffy.  *will keep in airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days. If cold and not spreadable, beat on low speed until it reaches a good consistency.

*Unless I am using that day, I wrap my cake layers in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. I remove them to defrost an hour or so before frosting the cake. When the cake layers are frozen, they are much easier to frost and less crumbs during the frosting process. 

*This cake and chocolate frosting come from Rosie Alyea's The Sweetapolita Bakebook. Rosie is AMAZING and knows everything about cake. She is always my go to for cake recipes because they are always moist with incredible flavour, (and I'm pretty sure she's magic). The cake is her Simple & Splendid Chocolate Cake" and the frosting is her Glossy Fudge Frosting". 

MERINGUE BONES

i n g r e d i e n t s :

  • 280 g (1.25 cups) superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature

m e t h o d :

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Secure the whisk attachment to electric mixer. In the bowl for the mixer, add the lemon juice and egg whites and whisk on medium together until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar a tablespoon at a time and continue to whisk until firm peaks form. 
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and cut a hole or insert a icing tip (I used a Wilton 2A tip). Start making your meringue bone shapes onto the lined baking sheets. I started with a dot and continuing to pull down making an S shape with another dot at the opposite end. Add a dot beside each of the initial dots to finish each end of the bone. 
  3. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until set, moving pans around during baking if needed. One side of my oven is hotter so I switched them halfway through.
  4. Turn off the oven and leave meringues in the oven to cool for another hour or so. 

*I used this method from Lily Vanilli who is another cake genius and I was in awe when I saw her beautiful 3 tier creation. 

RHUBARB STRAWBERRY TART + TOASTED ALMOND MERINGUE

RHUBARB STRAWBERRY TART + TOASTED ALMOND MERINGUE || Cream + Honey

Strawberry and Rhubarb are like high school sweethearts. Eternal lovers. They've been together since I can remember and have always been a dynamic duo. Sometimes they're on a break and you see them with others, (especially strawberry). Strawberry is exploratory and a social butterfly. Rhubarb tends to be more reserved and somewhat picky with their partners. Both are charming in different ways and blend well with others, but when you see them back together again it feels nostalgic and just right. You kind of hope they'll eventually run off into the sunset together because in your heart you know they belong with each other. Or maybe that's just me. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey

Strawberry and shortbread are another wonderful pair and rhubarb is welcoming to a medley between all three. This shortbread crust is buttery, delicious, and easy to make. If you end up with too much crust you can make a few shortbread cookies! Or eat the dough raw. It's a win-win-win situation. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey

The filling is a rhubarb strawberry curd. I say rhubarb strawberry and not vice versa because there is much more rhubarb in it. I made 4 different version of this curd before finding the perfect balance I liked. I noticed that once heated, the rhubarb flavour would diminish and the strawberry would dominate so I kept adjusting until it was just right. Not too sweet and less strawberries than most recipes–this way, the tartness and subtleties of the rhubarb flavour get their chance to shine. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey

This tart is so tasty on it's own but after using a carton of yolks on curd trials, I had A LOT of whites leftover. Egg white omelettes are lackluster in my opinion so meringue is often my way to use them up and feel good about it. And what's better than silky meringue right off the whip than toasted meringue?! I could argue nothing is. Until after my sugar high peaks and I fall into a sugar coma. Then I could argue sleep is better than meringue. Until I woke up and saw the leftover meringue smiling at me from the counter. See how it's a vicious cycle?!

(In the end of all the trials I settled on a method with whole eggs, so if you make the meringue you will be left with extra yolks instead. Here are some ideas to use up your egg yolks. I vote hollandaise.)

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey

When something tastes this good, I eat dessert with lunch and dinner. And maybe as a snack.

It may sound gluttonous but we must sometimes welcome the indulgery when things are plentiful because we may soon be in a new place where we crave or need the opposite. There are certain times for everything, whether it's being busy or excited or bored. I think boredom is more important than we give credit to. If everything was exciting all the time, we wouldn't appreciate it. Boredom brings a chance for reflection and relaxation.

This is a time for an abundance of tart. Because maybe next week will be all quinoa and kale. I try to enjoy whatever is coming up in life each moment because it will always pass. And then I'll miss it in some way. Sometimes when I feel apathetic about something, I think of how it will feel to not have it or when it has gone from my life. I'm thinking in bigger terms than this tart. Like spending time with certain people or the homes we live in or the places we regularly go like a market, cafe or park. Just for a few seconds, I think about in the future when I have moved on to new things or people move away–when those times in our lives are over. And those few seconds help ground me to this moment and remember how wonderful it all is. A new found appreciation for something that may seem old or dull or not good enough compared to our desires about the future.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart + Toasted Almond Meringue || Cream + Honey

I had every intention of giving some of this tart away but two of us finished it within 48 hours.

The tart had a short but good life. Every slice was lovingly adored. 


STRAWBERRY RHUBARB TART + TOASTED ALMOND MERINGUE

t h e   m a g i c

i n s p i r a t i o n :        classic food pairings

f e e l s :                           soft top + crumbly bottom                                                                                                                                                     tart + sweet 

e a t   w i t h :                 coffee, tea, glass of sauvignon blanc (or any wine. because... wine.)

m i g h t   l i k e   i f   y o u ' r e   i n t o :        summertime, English gardens, afternoon tea,  toasting                                                                                              marshmallows over the fire, working with your hands,                                                                                              Romeo & Juliet.

t h e   s c i e n c e 

makes 1  14 x 4.5 " rectangle tart or 1  9.5" round tart

i n g r e d i e n t s :

Strawberry Rhubarb Curd

  • 1 cup rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp lime juice (approx. 1 lime)
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 75 g butter (1/3 cup)
  • 45 g organic cane sugar (1/4 cup)
  • cheesecloth

Shortbread Crust

  • 170 g butter (3/4 cup)
  • 113 g organic cane sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 220 g unbleached all purpose flour (1 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Toasted Almond Meringue

  • 3 eggs whites
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 113 g organic sugar or powdered sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract

m e t h o d :

Strawberry Rhubarb Curd

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat add the rhubarb, strawberries, water and honey. 
  2. Leave until the fruit is soft, mixing every few minutes. When fruit begins breaking down, mash with a fork or potato masher until fully combined into a puree.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool. To speed up the process, pour into a bowl and put in the fridge or freezer. Make the tart crust at this time.
  4. When fully cooled, strain fruit puree through a doubled cheesecloth.
  5. In a small bowl add eggs, lime juice and sugar and whisk until combined. 
  6. Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add egg mixture and fruit puree to saucepan and whisk continuously until thickened to the consistency of curd.*
  7. Pour into a bowl or jar and place in the fridge to let cool and set fully (or freezer to speed up process).  

*Sometimes I find curd will thicken within 5 minutes and sometimes it has taken up to 15. Keep whisking so not to let your eggs cook. This will happen if your heat is too high or you walk away from your curd for too long while which is why I don't leave it. When making curd, I like to keep a shallow bath of cold water in my sink in case I see it start to curdle. You can place the bottom of the pan in the cold water bath and whisk very quickly until it returns to normal then put back onto heat. Consider reducing your heat a little if that happens. You can always add a little cornstarch if your having problems thickening curd. 

Shortbread Crust

  1. Add sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt to a bowl and beat well in stand mixer (with flat paddle attachment) or hand mixer. 
  2. Mix flour into the bowl gradually until dough is smooth.
  3. Press dough into tart pan evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake crust uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown.
  5. Pour rhubarb strawberry curd into tart crust and smooth out evenly. Cover tart edges with aluminum foil so it doesn't burn. 
  6. Bake tart until the filling looks set, about 15 - 20 minutes. 
  7. Let it fully cool while you make the meringue. Refrigerate to speed up cooling.

Toasted Almond Meringue

  1. Wipe mixer bowl with a little lemon (or vinegar) to ensure there is no leftover oil (this prevents meringue from forming). 
  2. Add egg whites and cream of tartar to mixing bowl and whisk on medium speed in stand mixer (or hand mixer) until soft peaks form. Look here for a guide on soft to stiff peaks if you're unsure of the difference. 
  3. Add almond extract and whisk on high speed while adding a spoonful of sugar at a time until stiff glossy peaks form. Rub a bit of meringue between yours fingers to make sure it is silky smooth with no grittiness from any undissolved sugar. Keep beating until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Insert decorating tip (I used the Wilton 12) into piping bag and fill with meringue. If you don't have piping bags and or decorating tips you can use parchment paper. Check it out here, I used this method when I started baking. Or you can spoon it on top for an easier method and a more rustic look. Both are beautiful and equally delicious. 
  5. With a kitchen torch, toast meringue lightly. If you do not own a kitchen torch you can turn on your broiler setting for your oven and place under for a couple minutes but make sure to watch over it as it happens very quickly (2 to 4 minutes). 

Shortbread crust recipe from All Recipes.