Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Boy, do I have a story to tell...

You may have already guessed that I like to tinker in the kitchen. I'm always on the hunt for new recipes, and on occasion, I make them up. What you may or may not know is that I am, have always been, and will always be a Southern Girl. There's nothing like sweet tea, southern hospitality, and the word "ya'll". That being said, there is a great food magazine called Taste of the South that publishes nothing but good, old-fashioned fattening recipes that remind me of my childhood. Each month, in one section, they publish several variations of the same recipe, the most recently intriguing issue being on caramel cake. Despite being southern, I've never had caramel cake, but the cover photo looked great, and cooked frostings are always interesting.
So, let me tell you about my attempt to make the Brown Sugar Cake with Cooked Caramel Frosting:

First of all, I was going to use this cake as the bottom tier of my cake for class. I also planned to pawn it off on my classmates so we didn't have to eat it all.
After a trip to the store to get brown sugar for the cake, and another to get butter for the frosting, I was all set. I baked the cake the night before and planned to frost the cake and cover it in fondant.

I should have known something was up when I had to keep running out to the store. I also should have known this frosting was problematic when I saw the magazine had added a step by step video tutorial for the frosting recipe -- that usually indicates it's kinda hard to do.

The recipe instructs you to caramelize sugar in a saucepan while bringing butter, sugar and evaporated milk to a boil in another pot. Both pans are to be whisked continuously, and should reach their magical moments of completion at the same time. This was the biggest indicator of potential problems, especially since we only have one whisk. I started whisking on my right and stirring/melting sugar on my left. Everything seemed to be going well. So, working quickly, as the directions said to do, I began putting the frosting on the cake, expecting it to turn into a solid mass at any minute. (I have another very easy cooked chocolate frosting that does just that.) It was really runny, but, I thought it was still pretty hot. I let it sit for a bit and stalactites of caramel are hanging from cake. At this point, the frosting does start to cool and thicken, but by no means is it "set". Not what I had in mind. Luckily, I had the forethought to place waxed paper under the cake. I finished glazing the cake and was not impressed. Lucky for me, I'd purchased a can of cream cheese frosting for back-up. After putting the cake in the fridge, the caramel had turned into a chewy, gooey, tasty consistency. Not "frosting", exactly, but it was on the cake. I thought the layer was pretty thin, so I did put the cream cheese frosting on top. Oh well, it was being covered in fondant anyway.

In case you were wondering, boiling baking soda and water completely and easily removes caramel and melted sugar from pots, pans, whisks, spoons, and anyting else you may be tempted to throw away.

While my frosting did not turn out, it did make a nice topping for microwave popcorn!

I'll post the results of the completed cake tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. I love your ingenuity! It's really the on-the-spot problem solving that makes people great :) I'd have loved to share that popcorn with you!


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