Chocolate-Caramel Cake with Sea Salt

This cake has mayonnaise in it! Yes, everyone!  MAYO! Not going to lie, aside from my deep cravings for chocolate cake during this holiday season, the moment I saw that mayonnaise was an ingredient in this recipe, I had to try it out…so I could tell everyone that I used MAYONNAISE in this cake!

Don’t gag at the mayo thing.  After all, mayonnaise is just eggs and oil, just like your common ingredients that go in a cake.  Apparently mayo is also the secret to making cakes moist.  My experience making cakes from scratch is that they tend to come out dry.  Maybe adding mayonnaise would add some moisture?

I found this recipe in the November issue of Bon Appetit Magazine in the “Readers’ Favorite Restaurant Recipes” section.  A restaurant called Sportello in Boston makes this cake and shared the recipe with the magazine.

For this cake I needed to buy an extra cake pan…because I only had two, and you need three for this cake.

For the cake:

  • nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise (not low-fat)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp. flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling – optional

Note on the sea salt: I couldn’t find the flaky sea salt anywhere.  Ok, I only tried two supermarkets, but what I’m trying to say here is that this is not a kind of salt that graces the shelves of the common supermarket.  So if anyone can tell me where I can find this delectable Maldon flaky sea salt, that’d be great.  So, I ended up using regular sea salt – the crystal kind – and spoiler alert – it’s not a bad substitute.


After preheating the oven and preparing the pans, I whisked the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Not pictured because you should know what that looks like by now.  Use your imagination!

Then I beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl until it fluffed up double in volume.  The mayonnaise, pictured below as the star of the show, and vanilla was added.


Then the dry ingredients were added bits at a time, to prevent the flour from exploding in my face as I mixed it in, as well as some lukewarm water in between the flour add-ins.  I wasn’t sure what the water was for at first, but the mixture seemed extra thick without it.


That jar of mayo loves to be the center of attention.

The batter was divided between the three pans and into the oven for about 25 minutes.  As the cakes cooled, I prepared the frosting…starting with the caramel.

In a saucepan I brought the sugar, corn syrup, and water to a boil and stirred the mixture until the sugar dissolved.

Caramel is always fun to make.  It’s neat watching it turn into hot bubbling brown lava right before your eyes.  But man, is it some sticky business.  I’d try to lick the caramel off my stirring spoon, but I would just burn my mouth every time.  I never learn.


After about 10 minutes, this lovely concoction appeared in the saucepan.

Then I transferred the caramel to the bowl of bittersweet chocolate that I set aside in a bowl but failed to mention that to you earlier because I got too excited about the caramel and stirred the hot caramel sauce with the chocolate until it the mixture became smooth.


Then I beat the three sticks of room-temp butter into the mixture and put it in the fridge to cool and become stiff enough to call it frosting.   That took about half an hour.

Layer time! (Cake + frosting + sea salt sprinkles) x 3.


Voila! A cake is born!

After assembling the cake, I put it back in the fridge for the icing the set a little longer.  I left it in there for about an hour, but it was a long hour.  My cold glass of milk and I were ready for a slice!  As you see below, I portioned it right for my guest tester.

Even though I stored the cake in the fridge, I learned that the cake is actually more tasty at room temperature.  In fact, I couldn’t really taste the caramel in the icing unless the icing was at room temp.  So each time I wanted a slice, I’d have to let my piece of cake sit out in the open, taunting me all the while, until it was ready to eat.  The crystal sea salt worked out just fine.  I’m a fan of the caramel and sea-salt combo, especially the salt, so I actually added a little more salt to the icing for myself.  I didn’t end up drizzling olive oil.  I should have, just to try it.

As for the cake itself, I couldn’t tell if the mayo made a difference with the moisture or not.  The cake might have been slightly overcooked, an error on my part.  So even though it didn’t work out for me this time, I’m not ruling out the idea of using mayo in cake batter.


Altogether, this was a super rich cake.  Rich and delicious. Chocolate lovers, I present you the next must-have cake.


Presentation: Nice, tall, and chocolately.  If this doesn’t beckon your sweet tooth, then…go away.
Edibility:  Very very much so.
Tastiness: I’m a personal fan of the sea-salt touch.  Tasty indeed.
Rematch?: Yes!  Maybe with the flaky sea salt next time.


2 thoughts on “Chocolate-Caramel Cake with Sea Salt

  1. Pingback: Bourbon-Sea Salt Caramels | Food Challenge: ACCEPTED

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