Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caramel Delights

Exactly ten days ago, I was at the dentist getting fitted for a crown for one tooth. As I left the office, unable to feel my face, both the dentist and his assistance called to me: “No caramels for three weeks!” Are they secret Daring Bakers? Are they clairvoyant? How did they know?

Although I’m still waiting to get the permanent crown, that did not deter me from making the caramels anyway, and, yes, even Tasting Them! I was careful. (Keep your fingers crossed.)

You might have guessed by now that the Daring Baker challenge for November focused on caramels – caramel cake, caramel frosting, and caramel candy. When making caramel anything, there are two essential qualities a baker needs: patience and lack of fear. It is not for the faint of heart.

The first task this month was to make a caramel syrup, which was a component in both the cake and the frosting. I’ve made caramel syrup several times before, so this was easy, only requiring patience and an eagle-eye to keep the sugar from turning to black carbon.

On to the cake. The recipe used a standard cake-making technique, mixing fat and sugars, then alternating dry and wet ingredients. I chose to make cupcakes this time. It was my turn to host my quilt group, so I wanted to spread the calories around to as many people as possible. The cakes had a nice texture and flavor, not too overwhelming.

Which is a good thing, because the frosting was the star. This was a super sweet and rich browned butter frosting. Oh my, it was so delicious! The frosting was everyone’s favorite part of the dessert! When I served the cupcakes, I drizzled some of the leftover caramel syrup over each one and sprinkled them with a pinch of Kosher salt. What a great combination! (I also have to admit that I kept drizzling that syrup over the leftover cupcakes each time I ate one. The syrup only became more flavorful the longer it sat, but then, it also decreased in volume at the same time. I believe someone finally licked out what was left, uh, namely, me.)

While my cupcakes weren’t particularly creative-looking, there are hundreds of Daring Bakers out in blogland who have made some stunning creations. Check them out when you have some free time; you’ll be inspired.

This morning (28th) I focused on the caramels, the final part of the challenge. I had found a supply of Lyle’s Golden Syrup at a small British import shop in our downtown area, so I was set to go.

The caramels were straight forward. Boil the sugar and syrup to a certain temperature, add butter, then hot cream, then boil again to another temperature. It takes awhile to reach each temperature, so I would just multitask in the general vicinity of the stove, and keep an eye on the thermometer. The most difficult part was waiting for them to cool so I could taste one (carefully).

They are really good, but there are a gazillion of the little guys, so I will probably be up all night wrapping them in wax paper.

I would also highly recommend using the nonstick foil. As you can see, even though I didn’t grease it, the caramels did not stick at all.


So, thanks go out to this month’s co-hosts for a delicious challenge:

Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity (http://culinarycuriosity.blogspot.com/)

Alex of Blondie and Brownie (http://blondieandbrownie.blogspot.com/)

Jenny of Foray into Food (http://forayintofood.blogspot.com/)

Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (http://glutenagogo.blogspot.com/)

And, of course, major credit goes to Shuna Fish Lydon (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/) for the luscious Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting, published on Bay Area Bites (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/) and adapted from an original recipe by Flo Braker.

The Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels appeared in Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich (Artisan Press).


If you wish to challenge yourself by making some wonderful caramel desserts, check the hosts’ blogs for the various recipes.

24 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great job! Those caramels and cupcakes look marvelous!

Cheers,

Rosa

Natashya said...

I love the deep colour you got on your caramel syrup. And the little caramels! So delish. Feel free to email me some!

Megan said...

Nothing like defying the dentist in the name of DB. Seriously, everything looks perfect and although I didn't like this cake, the pretty color of the caramels almost makes me wish I had tried them.

Renee said...

Your caramels look great! I'm going to have tomake them.

Angela said...

Your cupcakes look fantastic! And you were brave and went for a deep caramel, too. Yay!

The caramels look great, too. Glad you enjoyed them :)

Candice said...

What timing on your dental work, huh? At least you still got to taste all of your hard work! Your caramel syrup looks fantastic - nice and dark!

Lauren said...

Ooo, great job on your cupcakes! They look amazing. Mmm, and the caramels look perfect!

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Those caramels look fantastic -- I need to be trying those soon.

Sara said...

both your cake and caramels look amazing! well done.

Engineer Baker said...

Wow, both the cake and the caramels look absolutely fantastic. And I agree that the frosting was amazing - you may have nibbled away at the syrup, but I had my spoon in the container of leftover frosting :)

Aparna said...

Both cake and caramels look lovely. And as long as the dentist doesn't know and there's no evidence.......... :D

Gretchen Noelle said...

How unfortunate to be told you cannot eat caramels when you are about to make a caramel cake. You did a great job - both the cake and caramels look terrific!

Tartelette said...

Yes, I think dentists are psychics!! The cupcakes are adorable and the caramels are gorgeous! Well done!

Mary Ann said...

Your caramels turned out perfect- they look so yummy. I skipped out on DB this month. Thanks for choosing a great recipe for BB this month. I figured you were probably thinking that it could be turned into turkey soup. Yum!

Amy said...

Great job on this challenge - you truly were a daring baker!

Michelle Dargen said...

These look great! Don't you just love Lyle's Golden syrup? It i so tasty. I wanted to drink it out of the jar. LOL

kellypea said...

Just the thought of dentist + caramel gives me the willies! Cute cupcakes and nice job on those caramels. Will make a great stocking stuffers.

pinkstripes said...

Your caramel cupcake looks delicious. I went to so many stores looking for Lyle's syrup. I finally found it. It's soooo good.

Dolores said...

That's the spirit... SHARE the calories. (My personal trainer LOVES the caramel cake). Great job with all aspects of this month's challenge. Thanks for baking with us.

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Love the cupcake, love the caramels too. Great job!

Julia said...

You're such a rebel eattng caramels in the face of dental danger! I think I have a new respect for you now! :-)

I'm with you all the way -- I too made cupcakes and quickly sent my son to out neighbors to spread the caloric wealth. While I found the cake only so-so, the frosting was the star, indeed! I didn't make the caramels though as I was kind of carameled-out. Yours came out beautifully though.

Tammy said...

cute - your cupcakes look almost identical to mine! I must make the caramels though, they look too good!

TeaLady said...

Cupcakes. Seems like they were very popular with this cake. Yours look yummy!

Madam Chow said...

I like your tip about the foil. I have to get some of the non-stick kind. And I have to try this caramel recipe!