Who Else Wants Caramel Chocolate Cream Cake?

Anyone? I know I couldn’t get enough of it (besides the fact that there were 25 other people trying to get enough of it, too). I was going to call it Frankencake (because it was patched together from several recipes). Very catchy. But I was worried that I would inadvertently be associating it with my least favorite of all holidays, so I decided to play it safe with the alliterative title instead.

I made it on a whim for my brother-in-law’s impromptu marriage celebration. As far as wedding cakes go, it was pretty make-shift, but for everyday cakes, it was amazing. Oh man, this cake was good.

Here’s what I did. I used the cake recipe for the best birthday cake from smitten kitchen, and the recipe for caramel sauce from the caramel cake, also from smitten kitchen (I think the  caramel sauce from this recipe would have been wonderful, too). I followed the directions for these respective recipes as is, except I had to fabricate my buttermilk (pour 1 tbs vinegar in a 1-cup measuring cup, then fill the cup the rest of the way with milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir; learned this from my dad) instead of using the real thing. I sliced the two cake rounds in half so I had fours rounds, then layered the caramel sauce an two rounds and topped them with the other two, so I ended up with two cake rounds again that each had a caramel filling. Then I made about 1 & 1/2 cups of fresh whipped cream, lightly sweetened with powdered sugar, and layered that in between the two cake rounds. I let this chill in the fridge till it was about time for it to be eaten. Then I made a quick chocolate ganache from Martha Steward (next time I would use 1/3 cup of cream, because it was a little too runny for my purposes with a half cup) and dumped it over the top.

If you have any excuse to make this cake, go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

A Little Bit of Foolishness in the Kitchen, and Some Other Tidbits

Well, after this post, you may be surprised to hear that I gave caramel making another go. Well, another two “go”s, actually, since as you may have guessed, my second attempt didn’t go much better than the first. But first, there’s a little back story behind my second attempt at candy making.

You see, I’ve had these pinned on my “things to eat” Pinterest board for a while, and since I had some caramel-making ingredients left over from a birthday cake, I decided now was the perfect time. Twix are one of my favorite candy bars, and I figured, if I can make them myself, why not?

So I tried to make some caramel Saturday night, but it took a long time for the mixture to get hot enough, so I started nursing (that eternal occupation) while I was waiting, and just checked it every now and then. Well, apparently the temperature increases rapidly the last 15 degrees, so I overshot my desired consistency and ended up with something more like those butterscotch lollypops (they’re spelling, in case you’re looking at the word funny) you can buy at See’s. Have you tried those before? They’re delicious, and my caramels turned out pretty close in flavor and consistency. If you want to know, I used this recipe and just cooked it until it was a dark caramel brown (just a little over 250 degrees Fahrenheit); make sure to cut them when they’re still warm, because they harden up quickly.

Delicious though they were, this caramel was not appropriate for the twix recipe. I wanted something a little softer. So I tried again the next day with a different caramel recipe, another pretzel-dipping caramel. This one was way different, yummy and softer, but still a little to firm to really mimmick the candy bar I was going for. At this point I thought it was best to just go with it, though, because I would be risking my health to attempt three caramel batches in one weekend.

In the end, I made a jar of butterscotch caramels, two jars of caramel-chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate covered almond-caramel clusters, and a jar of twix-like chocolates.

Sure, I got a little carried away, but I guess it’s okay every once in a while.

While I’ve been busy in the kitchen, I’ve also been working on a bunch of little projects here and there. I have one project that I’ve been working on for nearly a year that I’m hoping (cross my fingers) to be able to show you later this week. And a started a new project last week that I’m really excited about. Here’s a sneak peek:

Any guesses? Hopefully I’ll have more to show you this week.

Willy Wonka I Ain’t*

*Sorry if my incorrect grammar in the title has offended anyone. As a professional editor, I know emotions over the word “ain’t” can run high. I hope you don’t hold it against me.

I usually don’t do much to celebrate Valentines Day. It’s not that I’m bitter about anything, or hate all the gushy love stuff, I’m just not that into it for some reason. A few chocolate kisses and a few real ones from my handsome husband is enough V-day recognition for me. But last night I decided I wanted to make some special treats to send to my brother in New Jersey for Valentines day (yes I realize that said treats will not make it halfway across the country today, but it’s the thought that counts, right?). He’s almost done with his LDS mission, so I thought I’d send one more package before he comes home.

I decided to go with caramel-and-chocolate-covered pretzels, mostly because I wanted them (that’s usually the driving force behind any treat-making in my house). Well, as it was a Sunday evening and I had no bag of individually wrapped caramels lying around, I decided to make my own caramel. I’ve made caramel popcorn and caramel sauce, so I thought making caramel for dipping the pretzels would not be that hard. Yeah, I was wrong. Here’s what my note to my brother is going to say:

“Dear Justin,
I hope you like the pretzels. I burned my finger and made myself and my kitchen into a candy-coated mess, so even if they are mashed and broken and you have to scrape them out of the bag to eat them and they’re a little stale by the time they get to you, please pretend that you like them.
Love, your sister”

Yup, it was kind of a mini disaster. Besides the above-mentioned problems, I was also not patient enough to let the caramel reach the right temperature, so whatever magical chemistry that needs to happen to make the caramel get hard did not happen. As a result, the pretzels were really sticky, even after I put them in the fridge overnight. (Does anyone have any caramel making tips to help with this?) Then, when I went to dip them in the chocolate, the caramel started melting off, and pretty soon I had a bowl of caramel-chocolate goop the was all grainy and not pretty.

I only did half the pretzels with the dipping method before I realized it just really wouldn’t work. So instead I laid each pretzel in a little puddle of chocolate and drizzled the tops with melted chocolate.

I drizzled the dipped ones, too, to cover up the ugliness. It worked pretty well, I guess, but not exactly what I was going for. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to try again next year.

Here are the ones I’m sending:

and here are the ones I’m not:

I kept a couple good ones for myself and my honey, of course. It is Valentines Day, after all.

Hope your day has a little sticky gooey goodness, too. Happy Valentines Day!