Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Velvet Caramel Cake

We’ve all heard of the classic southern caramel cake, and there are versions like it everywhere.  The rich caramel frosting is sometimes a trick to produce without crystallizing just as you spread it over the cake.  This frosting is like a smooth, creamy fudge - and when combined with the cake... it’s almost like velvet.

I grew up loving burnt sugar frosting.  My mother made it better than anyone.  The flavor is almost smoky/sweet, and when you frost a cake or cookies that contain nuts - it reminds me of pralines.  
Every fall I remember that frosting, and I wanted to make it for old-time’s sake again this weekend.  This time though, I decided to try to find a moist cake recipe, and see if this favorite frosting from my childhood would pair well with it.

Yellow cake recipes are abundant on the web, and most of them are variations of the same technique:  Cream butter & sugar, add eggs & vanilla, add dry ingredients alternately with some kind of liquid.  I wanted to be daring and try something new, and this was definitely a technique I had never tried before.  

The major differences are that you mix softened butter into the dry ingredients - making almost a ‘crumble’, that you then turn into a thick dough by adding milk.  A mixture of egg whites, milk, and flavorings is then added.  Top this off by folding in whipped cream at the very end.  Result = the most smooth textured, moist, and tender cake ever.  (Next time I’ll freeze the layers before frosting, as they had a tendency to fall apart when frosted).  

This frosting is different than the classic southern caramel version.  No need to burn sugar in a heavy pan to achieve the caramel flavor.  It has a creamy, fudge-like texture without any crystals.  You could almost spread this in a pan (with a healthy amount of toasted pecans) and end up with the praline fudge ever. 

Keep in mind that (although you’re tempted) - it’s torture to take more than a 1” slice.  Being so rich and delicious - you’ll want more, but it’s probably wise to use some sensibility (and restraint).

For the detailed recipe - with (a lot) of step-by-step photos, links, etc... go to:

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