Wednesday, November 26

mmmmmmmmmmm Caramel

Well here is the November Challenge for the Daring Bakers.

This month's Challenge is a recipe from Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater and her signature caramel cake. And just because you can never have enough caramel, you can also make Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels, with LOTS of variation. Caramel is just about my most favourite thing, so it was a hit in this house.

Now for the important bits.

The recipe is Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of
Shuna Fish Lydon , as published on Bay Area Bites

You can as an added option make
Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111

The hosts for the month of November are Dolores and helping her out are Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo), Jenny of Foray into Food . And since none of us know jack about alternative baking, we’ve once again turned to Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go to assist us.

The recipe for the cake is here though you will need to adjust it for metric conversion.

Now this was a challenge in parts for me - not making the cake, but making the caramel syrup - it took 4 trys :( The first one burnt, the 2nd and 3rd ones turned into toffee, but 4 time was a charm and worked great, I think next time, I would like it a bit darker in colour, but it still tasted good. Tips from David Lebovitz helped me through. The tip about a strainer above the pan before adding the water was fantastic, cause trust me the caramel goes nuts - not something I would recommend making with small children around.

Making the cake was easy, it does look curdled in parts and it does rise and then deflate after cooking. I turned mine into cupcakes *what a surprise* and I got 17 cupcakes from the mix. But this seems to vary between daring bakers, some got a bakers dozen and some 22, so it will depend on the size of your cupcake moulds. It makes a very moist cake, which actually tastes better after a couple of days, but because it's so moist the cupcake papers don't stay on, they tend to peel off.

Now for the frosting - I must confess I didn't do the brown butter thing - I don't like the taste :( So I just made buttercream as per usual, using caramel syrup and some milk to get the right consistency - I did ADD the salt, it really added an extra zing to the icing. I don't normally add salt in my baking at all except for bread. The icing was to die for, just scrummy. I also didn't do the crushed vanilla beans. I just cut two vanilla beans in half and scraped out the seeds and used those.

I even tackled the caramels, which worked out great, though getting the temperature back up after adding the cream took forever but it did get there. Next time I'd probably cook them a smidge longer for a firmer caramel and dip them into chocolate as well. I also found the oiled knife useless and just used a knife dipped in boiling water and then dried.

- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -

240ml golden syrup
450g cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon/2ml fine sea salt
480 ml heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons/7.5ml pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon/5ml pure vanilla extract
43g unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

A 9-inch/23cm 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/151c. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heal 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/151c, 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/118c. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f/127c for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F/129; 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.


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/107c or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F/109. 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)


  1. Oh those cupcakes look so super yummy! I love caramel too.

  2. Great looking cupcakes and caramels! Congrats on making it through the challenge. :-)

  3. Oh you are the caramel queen!
    I'm still enjying my biethday caramels thank you :)

  4. love the cupcakes!
    I have yet to make the caramels yet..but your look great

  5. Great job on your challenge. I didn't try the caramels but yours look great! I totally agree on the salt in the frosting.

  6. They look great, glad the caramel worked for you eventually.

  7. Really cute cupcakes! I'm glad you persevered with making the caramel syrup---it was worth it!

    And your caramels look great! I adore caramels, but I just couldn't justify making something even sugarier.

  8. Your cupcakes looks great. I didn't make the caramels.

  9. Mmmmmm, indeed! Yes I am still on a sugar high myself from all that cake ^_^ Yours look inviting!

  10. I will never find out if they taste better after a few days because they disappeared very very quickly.

  11. Your cupcakes look great & how good of you to keep pushing on so many tries to make the caramel sauce

  12. I love the idea of cupcakes! They look wonderful.

  13. Great job on the caramels!! and the cupcakes look scrumptious - I'll be sure to make cupcakes next time around :)

  14. I think next time I make this recipe (because oh, there will be a next time!) I'll make cupcakes. Yum!

  15. Mmm, those cupcakes look amazing! Oh, and the caramels, Yum!

  16. Wow those caramels look really good! Nice job. I'll have to try the caramels another day since I didn't get to them this round.

  17. That looks so good! My syrup was light too, but still yummy - I was afraid to burn it. I admire your stick-to-it-iveness!

  18. Beautiful cake and caramels! And good for you for persevering through 4 tries -- that's amazing. Congrats!

  19. 4 attempts shows great tenacity. The cake is better the next day. Thanks for the comments on my blog

  20. I was thinking that your frsoting was so white, now I get it! They're lovely!

  21. It's cupcakes that look that delicious that make me wish I had a piping bag and the stomach to be able to manage so much frosting in one mouthful. They're so beautiful!

  22. Just wiping the drool off the table and keyboard! Yum!

  23. Hi Lesley!!! Your cupcakes are beautiful and also the pink one...MMMMhhh delicious!!! I'he to see how you have make the frosting!
    Well done! Kisses
    Ago :-D

  24. Very pretty cupcakes, love that swirl of frosting! :)