Saturday, November 29, 2008

November Daring Bakers-- Caramel Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

This months challenge was hosted by Dolores, Alex and Jenny. They chose a fabulous Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting recipe by Shuna Fish Lydon .

Be sure to check out all of the other Daring Bakers creations.

The rules were simple for this month- make the cake and the frosting. Plain and simple. Also, there was an added bonus, sort of like an "extra-credit" (that I flunked) of making, what I hear is, delicious Vanilla Caramels.

I did attempt the caramels, however, I'm not sure where, but somewhere I went terribly wrong. I researched and researched and researched where to find Golden Syrup in my part of town and finally found some almost an hour away from home (which of course, sparked an argument with my husband due to how far away I wanted to (and did!) drive for this syrup). After driving out to get it and paying $10 for two little cans of liquid sugar, fighting with my husband and making the caramels, imagine my disappointment when they were well overcooked and tasted like burnt toffee instead of melt-in-your-mouth-creamy caramels. (And the fact that they burned did not help my argument for why it would be worth driving many, many miles to get the magical Golden Syrup.)

Luckily the cake and frosting redeemed this months challenge. It is FABULOUS and I had absolutely no problems with the cake, frosting or the caramel syrup that you need to make prior to the actual cake.

The original instructions were a bit confusing since you really are allowed to cook-to-taste with the frosting, so I'll add my comments to the recipe with a different colored print. Oh, and I drizzled the remaining caramel syrup on some of the cupcakes---oh yeah, baby. Come to Mama...



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

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.
( I made 20 cupcakes)

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Sift flour and baking powder

6. 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.)

7. 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.

8. 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. (My cupcakes baked for about 20 minutes at 350° and I didn't rotate the pan)

9. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.



2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelizing process)

1. In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand.

2. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush.

3. Turn on heat to highest flame.

4. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

5. 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.
(I had an oven mitt on my hand and held the lid to a pan as a "shield" as I poured the water in. It worked beautifully.)

6. 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.



12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup (I didn't need this)
Kosher or sea salt to taste (I used about 3/4 of a teaspoon)

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

2. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

3. 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 (I only used cream and also vanilla, which I added here since it doesn't say when to add it!). 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.

And, in case you wanted to attempt the caramels that I ruined, here is that recipe, too.


makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels

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

A 9-inch square baking pan
Candy thermometer

1. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil.

2. 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.

3. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water.

4. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.)

5. Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

9. When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks.

10. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful.

11. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently.

12. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.


Megan said...

Bummer about the caramels but pretty funny about the magical syrup. I couldn't find any here either so I went with corn syrup!

TeaLady said...

Wow! Talk about dedicated. I made my own syrup and it turned out well. Nice cup cakes.

Gretchen Noelle said...

Sorry that your caramels did not turn out. THe cupcakes sure cake out cute!

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

I just love those cupcakes! Sorry the caramel didn't work - I didn't even try.

Elra said...

I am sorry about the Golden syrup, I am impress that you actually went all the way just to get it. If it's me, I just skip it.
I am glad at least you are happy with your cake. And those Golden vanilla caramel, didn't look like ruined at all. I think it looks really beautiful, I like the color very much.

Elra said...

I am sorry about the Golden syrup, I am impress that you actually went all the way just to get it. If it's me, I just skip it.
I am glad at least you are happy with your cake. And those Golden vanilla caramel, didn't look like ruined at all. I think it looks really beautiful, I like the color very much.

Lynn said...

Well, what a shame you put in all that extra work and your caramels didn't work out. Still, I am impressed by your perseverance. There are many wonderful caramel recipes out there that don't use unusual ingredients.

Still your cupcake looks great.

As an aside it is nice to find another food blogger from the Twin Cities area.

Sandra Avital said...

i didn't want to bother with Golden syrup so I used dark molasses and glucose syrup instead. I'm sorry the caramels didn't work for you especially after all those efforts!
But at least, your cupcakes look very nice!

Claire said... least you TRIED the caramels... didn't even do that! Your cake looks great!

Claire said...