Caramel month roundup

It seems as quickly as it started, it has finished.  Caramel month.  It has been a busy few weeks as I have navigated my way through caramel in many forms.  CrunchyCreamyClear

Sherry Yard has been my chief ‘instructor’, guiding me through the fundamentals of caramel via her book, The Secrets of Baking.  This is one of the most frequently referenced tomes in my collection (primarily due to its instructional nature), and has been invaluable in steering me through this syrupy affair.

Caramel quite simply starts with cooked sugar.  Most professionals use the ‘dry’ method to make caramel – an approach that requires a very good eye to gauge temperature.  A more foolproof approach is the ‘wet’ method that incorporates water with the sugar.  The addition of corn syrup or lemon in to this mix – which is common in many recipes – also assists in minimising the development of sugar crystallisation.  The ideal temperature to cook sugar is roughly between 160-180C (or 325-350F).  It quickly can burn, so is essential you watch it the entire time.  No multi-tasking!

The master caramel recipe of cooked sugar is used to produce crunchy caramel creations – praline, spun sugar, caramel decorations.  Add cream, and you have caramel sauce.  Add a liquid like wine, juice or water, and you have a caramel glaze.  Best of all, with this master caramel formula, you have an indispensable range of recipes at your disposal.

Mr Mélanger remarked I must be tiring of caramel.  Not at all.  Having only scratched the sugary surface of this caramel wonder, my fascination has only just been piqued.  But next month is a new theme.  And I am excited.  Any guesses?  Stay tuned!  In the meantime, here is a summary of the caramel recipes I tackled during caramel month.  I hope you enjoyed some caramel of your own this month, too!

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caramel cake:: Triple Caramel Cake ::
It is bold.  It is unashamedly rich.  And it superbly showcases caramel in many forms.  From the caramelised cake, to the soft caramel sauce infused buttercream, to the crisp hazelnut praline that crowns this four layer wonder.  { Recipe here … }

 

pear:: Belle Hélène ::
A simple, yet elegant dessert.  The refreshingly light chocolate ice cream combines faultlessly with the pears – the star of the dish – that has been deliciously infused with a simple lemon-vanilla syrup.  { Recipe here … }

 

creme caramel:: Lavender Honey Crème Caramel ::
The sweet floral of lavender is quite the perfect match for the spicy, sweet honey in this twist on the classic crème caramel.  Bake in individual dishes or as a family style flan for a more relaxed dessert.  { Recipe here … }

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ice cream:: Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream ::
Deep, rich caramel infused ice cream.  The ice cream is creamy, yet with an edge.  Enjoy by the spoonful whether it is 30C, or 30F, outside.  { Recipe here … }

 

cupcakes:: Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes ::
The salted caramel harmoniously melds with the rich chocolate cake and dark chocolate frosting.  Lightly sprinkled to finish, the grey flakes, light and almost pearlised, look misleadingly innocent.  { Recipe here … }

 

macarons:: Salted Caramel Macarons ::
A classic French macaron flavour.  The sweet and salty overtones of caramel perfectly cut the sweetness of the macaron shell.  A sprinkling of fleur de sel on top seals the salty fate.  { Recipe here … }

 

dulce:: Dulce de Leche ::
Caramel at its richest.  Slow cooked milk and sugar produces the stickiest, creamiest and more-ish caramel treat. Eat straight from the jar or on bread, sweet biscuits or any accompaniment. Highly likely to be consumed within 24 hours.   { Recipe here … }

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brioche:: Brioche Tart with Caramelised Fruits ::
This egg rich bread is filled with creamy custard, topped with a tangy sabayon sauce, and served with caramel poached fruits.  Enjoy as a sweet weekend breakfast alternative to the typical pancake or waffle options.  { Recipe here … }

Caramel cake

There is no mere hint of caramel.  And no token caramel decoration.  You certainly will not find a subtle caramel flavour in this cake.  It is bold.  It is unashamedly rich.  And it superbly showcases caramel in many forms. 

From the caramelised cake, to the soft caramel sauce infused buttercream, to the crisp hazelnut praline that crowns this four layer wonder. 

Each component is a lesson in the versatility of caramel.  Each blends harmoniously to bring you the ultimate caramel cake.  This caramel extravaganza comes from the book, Caramel, by Trish Deseine. 

It never ceases to amaze me how the simple variation of an ingredient in baking can produce a drastically different result.  In this recipe, the simple use of brown sugar results in a sweeter, richer cake than its white sugar counterpart.  The sweetness of the cake is amplified with a caramel sauce laced buttercream frosting.  Lastly, the hazelnut praline provides the perfect crunch to this caramel cake, complementing the rich, creamy caramel cake and frosting.

This triple caramel feast certainly promises a very sweet start to caramel month.  Down to the last caramel bite.

Caramel cake (set)

{ Caramel Cake } by Trish Deseine 

Cake

* Ingredients *

3 ½ cup plain flour
1 ½ cup less 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white superfine sugar
8 eggs
2 cups salted butter
2 teaspoons baking powder

* Directions *

Preheat oven to 180C or 350 F. Spray and flour 2 x 22cm or 9” cake pans.  Put all cake ingredients into bowl of mixer, mix until you have a smooth, creamy batter. Divide mixture equally into two cake pans.  Smooth with spatula and bake 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Toothpick or tester should come out clean.

Buttercream

* Ingredients *

675g or 1 ½ lb powdered sugar
1 ½ cup unsalted butter
5 tablespoons caramel sauce
4 tablespoons marscapone

* Directions *

Beat powdered sugar and butter until smooth. Add caramel sauce and marscapone and beat together. Allow to set up for a few minutes in the fridge.  Save about 1/3 of butter cream for top layer of cake. Use remaining buttercream to frost the other 3 layers.

Hazelnut Praline

* Ingredients *

1 cup toasted hazelnuts
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water

Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake at 180C or 350F for 8 minutes until they start to turn golden.  Let cool.  Heat the sugar and water in a pan over medium heat.  Continue to stir until mixture turns an amber caramel color (10-15 minutes). Pour hot caramel over hazelnuts. Let cool, then break caramel into small pieces.

* Assembly *

Cut two cake layers in half horizontally to make 4 layers.
Spread buttercream on tops only, of first three cake layers, stacking them, and saving 1/3 of buttercream for top of fourth layer. Let frosted cake chill.
Top with hazelnut praline.  Optional – before serving, heat some caramel sauce and drizzle over the top, letting it run down the sides.