1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 egg at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Salted Caramel Buttercream (recipe follows)
1/2 cup crushed candy canes
Salted Caramel Buttercream
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp cream
2 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter,room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
To prepare the cakes:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two large cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugars together, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and continue beating until fluffy, 1-2 minutes longer. Beat in milk and vanilla extract. Finally, beat in flour mixture to combine.
4. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets (you should get 12-14 cookies).
5. Bake for 10-14 minutes, until top springs back when touched. Cool on a wire rack.
To make buttercream:
1. Put 1/4 cup of sugar and water in saucepan over medium-high heat. Do not stir of you will get sugar crystals, but you can swirl the saucepan gently. It will bubble itself into a deep amber. Remove immediately from heat and add cream (careful – it will bubble up furiously). Stir until smooth and set aside.
2. Put the egg whites, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches 140 degrees. Transfer to bowl of standing mixer.
3. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. Add butter a bit at a time, and continue beating on medium. Reduce speed to low, add vanilla extract, and then caramel (you may need to gently rewarm the caramel in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until it is workable but not burning hot). Beat for 4-5 minutes until fluffy.
Spread the cream over the flat side of one cake then sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the top. Sandwich another cake over it. Repeat with the remaining cakes, arrange on a platter and serve.