Saturday, November 29, 2008


November's Daring Bakers challenge was Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. The recipe is courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon, as published on Bay Area Bites. Our host this month was Dolores and her helpers were Alex, Jenny and Natalie. Thanks to all for your hard work hosting!!

It was a fun cake to make, with the many steps involved, but my honest take on it - It was way too sweet. I am known for my not so sweet desserts so upon tasting this one it was way over the top for me.

I just finished my challenge the night before posting as this has been a very busy month for me at work. I will be serving the cake to my fellow employees on posting day.

I followed the recipe exactly as written below. My only variation was to put a caramel sauce pattern on top of the cake. I also made two 9" round cakes and layered them together so I would have one tall cake.

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform. Sift flour and baking powder. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan. Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month. To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This tuxedo cake was for one of the member's at the country club where I work, 80th birthday. Men's cakes are always hard to decorate, usually they don't care about the decoration they just want to get into eating the cake. Probably no exception here, but I had fun decorating it to look like a tuxedo just the same.

I have also found that most men like chocolate the best and that is the main flavor of this cake. Chocolate cake, a layer of crunch, chocolate buttercream and espresso chocolate mousse.

I used fondant for all the decoration. I had pure black fondant but I added some white to it to make it a dark grey. The problem with black fondant is it can turn your teeth and tongue black. Great for Halloween but not at an elegant dinner party.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


We had a Cigar dinner at work tonight. The guests ate outside as it was a lovely evening, (still warm here in the desert). They were able to smoke their cigars outside and for those who didn't smoke, I didn't want them to feel left out so I made everyone a cigar for dessert. And of course they needed a pack of matches to light those cigars. The "matches" are made out of pastillage (sugar paste) and the "match cover" is made out of tuile cookie batter that I tinted with red and yellow food color. Here is my recipe for the

1 LB. 8 OZ. Semisweet or bittersweet Chocolate
4 Oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
3 Cups Heavy Cream
6 Egg Yolks
3 Whole Eggs
1 Oz. Sugar
1/3 Cup Honey
Melt the two chocolates together, set aside but keep warm.
Whip the heavy cream to soft peak, set aside.
Whip the egg yolks and whole eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes at high speed until light and fluffy.
Bring the honey to a boil and gradually pour it into the egg mixture while whipping. Continue whipping until cold,
Fold in the chocolate then quickly stir in the whipped cream.

Spread the mousse out on a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle Valrhona Crispy Pearls on top of it then roll it into a cylinder then freeze it. After freezing, cut it to size and dip one end in vermicelles. Then roll the whole cigar in Valrohna Cocoa Powder.

Make the cigar band out of tuille cookie batter.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I made this dessert for a ladies luncheon at the country club. The "pot" is a chocolate cake with pistachio mousse and caramelized pistachios folded into it. The flower is a sugar cookie decorated with royal icing and a fondant center, stem and leaves. The grass is buttercream.
My inspiration for the mousse came from Aran. I followed her pistachio mousse recipe and also folded in some caramelized pistachios. It is delicious and if you can find pure pistachio paste use it.