12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghiradelli is always first preference)
12 oz. heavy cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Flour and butter 3 – 9 inch cake pans.
Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Add milk, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla and mix on medium low just until ingredients come together.
Pour in hot boiling water while mixer is mixing on low. Cake batter will be thin, but that is how it should look. Scrape the bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula and mix on medium low for just a few seconds to make sure all ingredients are mixed. Do not mix for a prolonged period of time or the cake will be tough.
Pour batter equally into the 3 prepared baking pans. There will be 2 cups plus a little extra batter in each pan.
Bake for 18-23 minutes. Check cake with one of 2 methods. First, you can insert a toothpick in the middle and see if it comes out clean. If it comes out with cake batter or crumbs, it needs more time.
The second method is easy. Gently touch the top of the cake with one finger. If the cake springs back and doesn’t leave a finger indentation, then it is ready.
When cakes are done, transfer pans to cooling racks. Turn cakes out of pans after 10 minutes of cooling, and allow them to finish cooling on the wire racks.
For the Frosting:
Pour chocolate chips/chunks into a medium bowl. Pour cream into a small pot and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Let chocolate and cream sit for 5 minutes so chocolate can fully melt.
Gently whisk cream and chocolate together until it is smooth and silky. If you have any chocolate pieces remaining, you can strain the ganache into another bowl to remove the bits of chocolate.
Do NOT overwhisk the chocolate. Be gentle with it, and stop mixing once it is smooth. Let the ganache sit at room temperature for 2 hours until it sets up and is firm.
Add butter, salt, and powdered sugar to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix until butter and sugar are mostly smooth.
Add chocolate ganache and whip on medium high for 2 minutes. The frosting will go from dark to light and fluffy when it is finished.
To Assemble the Cake:
Make sure that all 3 cakes have been leveled if they had any doming on top. To cut the dome, use a serrated knife and gently slice the dome off.
Place 1 cake round on your cake stand/plate, spread a thin layer (about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup) of salted caramel sauce on the cake, and then a slightly thicker layer of the chocolate frosting.
Place 2nd cake round on next and repeat with caramel and frosting.
Place 3rd cake on top, spread on caramel, and then use the rest of the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake.
Sprinkle with chopped pecans or almonds if desired, and drizzle with remaining caramel.
Store at room temperature for 2 days, then in the fridge for up to 5 more days.