For this modern take on caramel cake, we simmer dates, water, and Frangelico into a rich, nutty Date Caramel to create a decadent base for the frosting.
Date and Hazelnut Caramel Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
- ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup (75 grams) vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) Frangelico
- 2 teaspoons (8 grams) vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
- 2 large eggs (100 grams)
- 3 large egg yolks (56 grams)
- 2 cups (200 grams) cake flour
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
- ⅓ cup (80 grams) whole buttermilk
- ½ cup (120 grams) heavy whipping cream
- Date Caramel Buttercream (recipe follows)
- Caramel and Date Filling (recipe follows)
- Caramelized Hazelnuts (recipe follows)
- Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Spray an 9-inch springform pan with baking spray with flour. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add oil, Frangelico, vanilla, and salt, beating just until combined. Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Transfer batter to a large bowl; set aside.
- Clean bowl of stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat cream at high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold whipped cream into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake until light golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about an hour, covering with foil halfway through baking to prevent excess browning. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Using a serrated knife, cut cake in half horizontally. Place ½ cup Date Caramel Buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe Date Caramel Buttercream around edge of one cake layer. Spoon Caramel and Date Filling onto cake layer, and spread within buttercream circle. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining Date Caramel Buttercream on top and sides of cake. Garnish with Caramelized Hazelnuts, if desired. Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Date Caramel Buttercream
Makes about 5 cups
- 5 cups (600 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- Date Caramel (recipe follows)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat confectioners’ sugar, butter, and Date Caramel at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Makes about ½ cup
- ½ cup (64 grams) dried whole pitted dates
- ½ cup (120 grams) water
- ½ cup (120 grams) Frangelico
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
- 1 tablespoon (21 grams) maple syrup
- In a small saucepan, bring dates, ½ cup (120 grams) water, Frangelico, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean seeds to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until dates are softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.
- Transfer mixture to the container of a blender, and purée until smooth, about 3 minutes. Stir in maple syrup. Let cool completely. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Caramel and Date Filling
Makes about 1½ cups
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons (84 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cubed
- ½ cup (120 grams) warm heavy whipping cream (105°F/40°C to 110°F/43°C)
- 2 teaspoons (8 grams) vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) Frangelico
- ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
- 1 cup (128 grams) chopped whole pitted dates
- In a medium saucepan, cook sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and amber colored, about 3 minutes. (Clumps may form but will eventually melt. Be careful not to burn.) Carefully add butter, and cook, stirring constantly, until completely melted, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in cream, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla, Frangelico, and salt. Let cool completely. Stir in dates. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Makes ½ cup
- ½ cup (71 grams) hazelnuts
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place hazelnuts on prepared pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel, and rub nuts in towel to remove loose skins. Keep warm.
- In a small saucepan, cook sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until amber colored. Add warm nuts. Cook, stirring constantly, until well coated, about 1 minute. Add butter, and stir, separating nuts.
- Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Working quickly, use 2 forks to separate nuts. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.