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).
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.