Saturday, November 29, 2008

DARING BAKERS: Caramel Cake & Caramels

This month's challenge was a challenge because I waited until the busiest week to make them, Thanksgiving week. I put the challenge off for so long because everyone was saying how sweet they were! I am not really into heavily sugared sweets, not usually anyway. However, I knew my kids would like them. The idea of them reminded me of my favorite childhood sweet, butterscotch, Tasty Cakes! They were never available here in NY so we always bought them when visiting our relatives in Pennsylvania. Now, they are sold here. However, I no longer like them. Too sweet.

This challenge was sweet but they were so TASTEY. They had so much flavor. The frosting was so yummy with the browned butter whipped in. I highly recommend this cake as the "tastey-WOW" factor was so there!
I sprinkled some fleur de sel on mine. Oh so good!

The leading lady for this month's Daring Baker challenge is Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater ( and her signature caramel cake. We also had the option of doing, Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels. Which I did an Espresso Caramel.

Helping her ( host this month are Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food ( And helping the Alternative bakers,Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (

The Cake recipe comes from: author Shuna Fish Lydon’s with her recipe here at: ( … he-recipe/)

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

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.


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. One DB'er suggested covering the pot with a piece of tin foil that had a whole in it. I did that, pouring my water into that hole. It contained the splatter!

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
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)

- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -
adapted from Alice Medrich, PURE DESSERT

1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoon instant espresso
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


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.


chrismacd1 said...

Now I wish I did the caramels. The cake does remind me of a tastycake! Boy was it sweet! Yours looks delicious.

Christine said...

Sorry went under the wrong name! Your cake looks delicious and it was really sweet it did remind us of a tastycake! Great job!

kat said...

I love the look of your little cakes. We thought these were pretty darn tasty too

Renee said...

Sprinkled fleur de sel on top? What a great idea and a "sweet" surprise! Love it.

Aran said...

Nice Lori! You made both recipes!

Beth said...

The caramels look great. I didn't get around to making them. Did you enjoy them?

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great looking cakes and caramels! Well done!



vibi said...

So simple, yet so nice... LOL Hard to resist such a nice, but oooooh! so sweet cake! your little cakes keep people from eating too much anyways! Great idea!

Anonymous said...

Man... I'm really wishing I'd done the caramels. Everything looks wonderful!!

Cristine said...

Mmmmm! Looks fantastic!

Jude said...

I also thought the cake was sweet. but only because i ate it too fast. It's perfect in small servings, though, don't you think?

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Lovely mini loafs and your vanilla & expresso caramels must have been delicious!

The Blonde Duck said...

I like your two little mini cakes!

giz said...

I should have made the caramels..they look really fun and great to put into home made goodie bags for the holidays.

CookiePie said...

Such pretty cakes, and your caramels look absolutely professional! I bet the espresso was amazing in there.

Anonymous said...
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Gretchen Noelle said...

Lovely cake shapes and the thought of espresso caramels is almost most than I can take! Great job!!

Lori said...

chrismacd1- you can always make the caramels, they make excellent gifts.

kat- thank you.

renee- the fleur de sel was yummy on it.

aran- thank you

beth- I sure did enjoy them.

rosas yummy yums- thank you.

vibi- thank you.

culinography- thank you.

christine- thank you

jude- I do think so!

clumbsy cookie- next time I will add more espresso but it did give them a richness.

blonde duck- thank you.

giz- I wasnt going to make them but I am glad I did.

cookie pie- thank you

gretchen- thank you.

Astra Libris said...

Oh my goodness, look at your espresso caramels! Perfection! Mmmm, and your cake looks so scrumptious too...

linda said...

Love that you made rectangular cakelets. Espresso caramels sound delicious, yum!

maybelle's mom said...

The caramels look wonderful. wished I made them.

Tracy said...

Both treats look delish! Great job!

Tartelette said...

I love those little cakes! Great job on the challenge Lori!!

Vera said...

The cake and the caramels look wonderful!

Dolores said...

Tastycakes! We couldn't get them in California either, so we stocked up when we visited family in Chicago.

I'm glad you and your family enjoyed our sugar celebration. Thanks for baking with us.