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November Daring Bakers: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting (and bonus Caramels)

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We’re bringing on the sugar for this month’s Daring Bakers challenge!  Our wonderful hosts for this month were Delores of Chronicles of Culinary Curiousity, Alex of A Blondie and a Brownie, Jenny of Foray into Food, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (who was in charge of the alternative bakers) and they chose this lovely cake from Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater.  This is her signature dessert, and I was so excited to have the chance to make it. We also had the option of making a bonus recipe of making caramels.

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I have often professed my love of all things chocolate on this blog, but caramel comes pretty close in my love of sweets.  The caramel syrup was a key component to this recipe and it added a lot of flavor to it.  Lydon wasn’t kidding when she said to wear long sleeves and be prepared to back away when making it, because when I added the water to stop the caramelization process, it splattered and make a mess with the hot liquid.  After making the caramel syrup, the rest of the process was a piece of cake (haha :))  I made the cake in one night and the frosting the next, right before I served it.  The frosting was fabulous.  It was so nice and full of caramel flavor and went so nicely with the cake.  I am a total frosting girl, and I thought there was a perfect amount of frosting for the cake.  It would even be nice to double the frosting and split the cake into two layers for a layered cake and even more frosting to enjoy :)  I want to find more uses for this frosting and syrup for future baking because I was so happy with how it came out.

We also had the option of making caramels, which I had always wanted to make.  This was my first attempt, and I couldn’t be happier with how they came out.  My husband David was very much enamored with these and ate a ton of them!  I was excited to find something that he loved so much.  Mine were somewhere between soft and chewy and firm and chewy, which was perfect for me.  This will be my go-to recipe for caramels in the future and I want to work on trying more variations.  I also want to see how this does as a caramel sauce, so I will use this recipe next time I make caramel sauce.

Thanks to all the hosts for a great November challenge!  I really enjoyed this recipe.  I can’t wait to find out what December will bring!

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CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING
from Shuna Fish Lydon
Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Notes from Natalie for those of you baking gluten-free:

So the GF changes to the cake would be:

2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or 2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 – 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I’m going to check)

I’ll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

CARAMEL SYRUP

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for “stopping” the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner’s sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner’s sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

(Optional) GOLDEN VANILLA BEAN CARAMELS
– makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels –

Ingredients
1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

Equipment
A 9-inch square baking pan
Candy thermometer

Procedure

Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.

Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife.  Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.

Variations

Fleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane.

Nutmeg and Vanilla Bean Caramels: Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the cream before you heat it.

Cardamom Caramels: Omit the vanilla. Add 1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods) to the cream before heating it. Strain the cream when you add it to the caramel; discard the seeds.

Caramel Sauce: Stop cooking any caramel recipe or variation when it reaches 225°F or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F. Pour it into a sauceboat to serve or into a heatproof jar for storage. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for ages and reheated gently in the microwave or a saucepan just until hot and flowing before use. You can stir in rum or brandy to taste. If the sauce is too thick or stiff to serve over ice cream, it can always be thinned with a little water or cream. Or, if you like a sauce that thickens more over ice cream, simmer it for a few minutes longer.
(recipe from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert)

22 Responses

  1. Your cake looks delicious! I haven’t had a chance to make the caramels yet; glad to know that you had success with the recipe.

  2. I admire your courage Erin, for making the caramels too!
    I love the simplicity with which you’ve accomplished the challenge!

  3. Both look wonderful! I’m a frosting girl too, and dear lord was that frosting amazing. It might become my go-to basic frosting recipe, minus the caramel syrup since I don’t normally have that sitting around🙂

  4. Kudo’s on the caramels… I just was too busy, (and too fat ) to justify it. I loved the look of your pretty caramelly colored cake.

  5. Very nice. Love the caramels!

  6. Your caramel cake looks gorgeous and I’m glad your first attempt at caramels turned out wonderfully!

  7. I love your cake slices, they look just perfect!! Great job!

  8. Lovely cake and your caramels look seriously delicious!

  9. Wow – you did both! That’s quite an accomplishment. My cake didn’t turn out at all – but at least now I know what it should look like – because your cake is perfect!

  10. Your cake and caramels look amazing! Great job and I’ll have to bookmark this recipe to try out soon!

  11. I wish I could eat those slices of caramel cake – right now! They look so delicioius. Great that you made the caramels too.

  12. great job w/the challenge, esp the caramels – i know those can be tough. i love dorie’s caramel sauce recipe though – not sure if you can find a better one😉

  13. Your cake turned out lovely and those caramels look divine! Well done!

  14. this cake looks great🙂 and the caramela are a nice added bonus🙂

  15. your cake looks really gorgeous, so does the caramel.
    Well done.
    Elra

  16. simply beautiful! i’d love a slice exactly now!

  17. I’m so glad you enjoyed this month’s tribute to sugar.🙂 Thanks for baking with us. Both your cake and your caramels look GREAT.

  18. Your cake looks fab! I didn’t get to the caramels but your comments make me want to try them soon.

  19. Your cake looks delicious!
    I wish I would have had the ingredients to make the caramels, they look so good.

  20. […] Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting and Bonus Caramels- this might tie with this month’s recipe for my favorite.  This was a great cake for a caramel lover like myself.  I couldn’t get enough of the frosting, and I just loved the caramels.  I will use aspects from this challenge again and again! […]

  21. Could the cake be made with soymilk or another milk-substitute? I have a friend getting married and her mother is gluten- and lactose-intolerant, so they want her to have her own cake to eat. This looks lovely, and I’d find another frosting without butter.

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