I'm sick. My kids are sick - AGAIN! I am so sick of being sick. I am exhausted and my brain doesn't seem to be functioning. What does this have to do with the November Daring Baker challenge? Well, it is my excuse for a short, horribly put together, all around not so great post.
This month's challenge was a yummy caramel cake, which I happily made into cupcakes (decorating time is much shorter!). They were so delicious and my friends enjoyed them, too!
There was an additional optional challenge - Vanilla Bean Caramels. I did grind my own vanilla beans for these and probably should've made sure it was done better. There were some bigger pieces (nothing gross) in the caramel. But, they still tasted great and I will make this recipe again when I can find golden syrup. (I had to order it on EBay... too much to spend to make these regularly!)
Oh, and here is the information for the super cool new computer program that is going to check that I completed this challenge:
Caramel Cake Recipe Courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon
Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111
Hosts/Co-Hosts for this month's challenge:
Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity
CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING
Preheat oven to 350F
CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING
GOLDEN VANILLA BEAN CARAMELS
Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F.
Fleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane.
Nutmeg and Vanilla Bean Caramels: Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the cream before you heat it.
Cardamom Caramels: Omit the vanilla. Add 1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods) to the cream before heating it. Strain the cream when you add it to the caramel; discard the seeds.
Caramel Sauce: Stop cooking any caramel recipe or variation when it reaches 225°F or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F. Pour it into a sauceboat to serve or into a heatproof jar for storage. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for ages and reheated gently in the microwave or a saucepan just until hot and flowing before use. You can stir in rum or brandy to taste. If the sauce is too thick or stiff to serve over ice cream, it can always be thinned with a little water or cream. Or, if you like a sauce that thickens more over ice cream, simmer it for a few minutes longer.