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Revelatory Caramel Cake

I read an article in Food & Wine Magazine that raved about this cake, so I wanted to make it myself, just to see if it was really that good. Several of the comments on the recipe had to do with the instructions for the frosting being off and the recipe on the website not being properly tested, etc. So I just wanted to try it myself and see if the recipe was as good as all that, or if it really wasn’t worth my time.

Let me tell you, this will be my new go-to cake recipe. The cake itself was absolutely unbelievable. I made the cake according to the recipe on the Food & Wine website, and it was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing. The frosting… well, that was a little different.

The frosting definitely posed some problems.

2013-09-03 17.51.38Because it’s a candy frosting, and I’d never made a candy frosting before, I went out and got the proper utensils. A heavy-bottom pan, a candy thermometer, and the ingredients. As I made the recipe exactly, it did not turn out like the picture. But since then, I’ve learned a few things about candy frostings, and I think my issue was that I pulled the frosting off before it had passed the soft ball stage. (i.e. the temperature in the recipe on the website is wrong.) There were some other speculations in the reviews about omitting the milk from the frosting recipe, and definitely increasing the temperature you let the candy get to. The one thing is, this cake takes forever to make. It’s probably a five-hour process, by the end.

When I made my version, I didn’t have quite as much difficulty with the frosting, but I sort of treated it like a dulce de leche cake and I poured on a bit of frosting and let it soak in and then a bit more and let it soak in and then a bit more. By the end, it might have been the best cake I’ve ever tasted. But it was not like the picture on the Food & Wine website.

So I decided to make it again, for a friend’s birthday. Instead of making the fussy candy frosting, I went with one of the best frosting recipes I make for a sheet cake I use often. Once again, it’s more of a pouring experience than a frosting one, but it’s just so tasty.

(Substitute frosting recipe)

Bring to a boil: 1/4 cup butter or margarine, 1 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup milk. Once on a low boil, remove from heat and add 1/2 c. chocolate chips. Don’t cool. Continue beating until it thickens. Once relatively thickened (but still pourable), pour it over the cake and spread to the corners.

It was absolutely fantastic. In fact, this time, I added just a touch of cinnamon to the frosting mixture, and it turned out to taste quite a bit like the sheet cake we make, except with a firmer, more luscious cake underneath it. (The sheet cake, while tasty, tends to fall apart easily.)

I think I may make this again in the future and try the candy frosting after all. We shall see.

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