Saturday, November 29, 2008

How Sweet It Is…

What a great challenge! Caramel is one thing I have not worked with very much, mostly out of fear, so I appreciated the push to get going with the sugar already. And the results were very pleasing all around.

I was nervous going into making the caramel syrup because of all the comments about it on the message board, but either I got very lucky or I’ve got a caramel thumb, because it came together perfectly, no problem. The eruption of molten sugar was quite exciting, and the syrup tasted heavenly. I let that cool while I started the batter for the cake, which I made into cupcakes. My batter looked curdled after adding the eggs, but became creamy and smooth after adding the flour and milk. I got 21 cupcakes from the batter, and they were done after 20 minutes in the oven. Those cooled while I scrubbed caramel sauce from my counters, my mixer, several spoons, then they were packed away to await frosting the next day.

This challenge was my first foray into browned butter, and man was I missing out! It took longer than I expected for the butter to get brown, and then I thought I had actually burnt it. I strained it anyways, and realized that all the burnt looking pieces were stuck to the bottom of the pan, and the strained butter smelled so good it couldn’t possibly be burnt. I had to strain it twice, as the first sieve I used wasn’t nearly fine enough to get out all the little bits. I had to re-warm my caramel syrup to make the frosting, since it had become so thick it was hardly moving in the pan when I tilted it, so I put it on a low burner while the butter cooled off. I wish I had measured as I made the frosting, because it came out really good, but mostly I just started dribbling in a bit of sugar, some caramel, a little sugar, some cream, until all the sugar was in, and enough of the caramel and the cream to make a smooth, creamy frosting. A few pinches of kosher salt, and it was done. I will be going back to this frosting for sure, it was incredible. I piped it onto my cupcakes, then used the leftover caramel syrup to make some decorations for them. I boiled it for a while, then drizzled it onto some foil to make little sugar candies for the tops of the cupcakes.

I brought these cupcakes to a potluck, and within 2 minutes of opening the box, they were gone. Is it bragging to say they were the hit of the party? Personally I found the cake to be too dense, but the frosting more than made up for it. I’m trying to figure out what would be the perfect thing to use that frosting on, because I certainly will be making it again.

- Brooke

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