I love caramel as much as the next person. Or maybe I love it even more than the next person. Caramel sundaes, caramel macchiatos, creme caramel, caramel apples, chocolate covered caramels, caramel candy. You get the picture…
The Daring Bakers
This month marks my initiation in The Daring Bakers, an online baking group. The purpose of the group is to once a month challenge bakers by selecting recipes or baking techniques that are seemingly difficult, non-traditional, or unusual. Over 1,000 bakers from around the world are members and each month rotating hosts select the recipe(s). The recipe is known only to the membership until the posting date for the month. In addition to traditional bakers, the group also supports a large contingent of alternative bakers–vegan and/or gluten-free bakers.
And its a good thing I like caramel. Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, along with Alex of Brownie and Blondie and Jenny of Foray into Food were the hosts of November’s Daring Baker’s challenge and they chose a cake which showcases caramel and a bonus dessert which is, well, caramel. Assisting the hosts with alternative baking is Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go.
Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting
The hosts picked Shuna Fish Lyndon’s infamous Caramel Cake for November’s DB Challenge. -You can find the recipe here. I decided to make cupcakes instead of a cake because they are easier to share. I made the caramel syrup needed for the batter and the frosting. It tasted great but looked like–well, I’ll just say a specimen collection.
The cake batter came together fine with no issues. I used an ice cream scoop to place the batter into the muffin tin. I had left over batter after making 12 cupcakes. I baked the extra batter in my madeleine pan. Although my caramel cake madeleines didn’t look pretty, it was a great way to taste the finished product without tearing into a cupcake.
And we tore into the cupcakes. I made the frosting as directed but 1/2′d the recipe and ended up using only about 6 oz of powdered sugar. P, my husband, loved them. He said they were pure cupcake joy. Not only was the frosting moist, he said, but the cake was moist too. His big complaint about cupcakes is when the cake is dry and the frosting is moist.
I sprinkled the cupcakes with grated caramels to tie the recipes together. Actually, I tried to make caramel ribbons like I do with chocolate and it didn’t work. So, sprinkles it is.
I bought the cupcake liners at Crate and Barrel. They’re from their holiday line and are not too “christmas”, so you can use them after the holidays.
Update: I just had a co-worker walk into my office with a crazed look in his eyes saying: “I just had one of your cupcakes. It was like a religious experience. OMG. I thought you should know. I broke down and had one. OMG. It was a religious experience.” I think that means he liked it. ;)
Golden Fleur de Sel Vanilla Bean Caramels
The hosts picked an additional recipe for extra-credit from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert. This was a great choice because (1) I’m never one to back away from a challenge and (2) I bought this book a while ago and haven’t had the opportunity to make something from it.
The recipes in the book highlight flavors in pure and simple forms–milk, sugar, chocolate, nuts, and flours. The pictures are amazing and the recipes sound delicious. The caramels were great and relatively straightforward to make. A candy thermometer is a must. I know of people who don’t use a candy thermometer and it amazes me.