Friday, August 5, 2011

Caramel Cake--Simpler Than You May Think

This recipe for Caramel Cake was sent to us by a friend, reader, and serious foodie with the following recommendation:  "This was the best thing I've ever baked."  With an endorsement like that, and the fact that it features caramel, I simply had to try it.

I am a huge fan of caramel, and routinely make salted caramel sauce as a fondue or dessert topping, a hostess gift, or if I'm having a particularly bad day, something to eat with spoon warm from the pan.   The trick is to watch the caramelizing sugar/water mixture like a hawk.  It seems to bubble away with absolutely no change, then suddenly goes from clear to perfectly browned to tar in blink of an eye.  Fortunately, these cakes are a bit more forgiving while still creating that lovely caramel flavor.

We were scheduled to visit some friends in Virginia over the weekend, and this cake seemed like the perfect thing to bring--I cleared it with them first of course, for no hostess worth her Fleur de sel appreciates a guest bringing dishes that clash with her menu, and no guest with manners would inflict an unexpected dish on a host without permission.  (Although the yumminess of this cake might allow that rule to be relaxed.)  
Dessert starring Caramel Cake, a big hit!

The cake was an instant favorite with kids and grownups alike; kids loved the uber-sweet glaze frosting, adults loved the sophistication of the butterscotch/caramel flavor, a welcome deviation from the run of the mill vanilla or chocolate.

I've had this other version of  Caramel Cake in my repertoire for years.  It's always a hit but it doesn't quite have the visual 'wow' of the Saveur version above.   If you are only feeding 6-8 people, however, and don't want scads leftover, this smaller cake is a better bet; the version above would have easily fed 16.  We covered 6 people and 3/4 of the ring was left.   Six of us ate regular serving sizes;  one of us, strategically seated near the cake kept making those 'let me just even out the edge' slices and nibbling long after the rest of us had finished--it is that kind of cake.  Had it been in arm's reach of yours truly, I'd have been equally guilty.  Even with that, we had plenty left to slice up for the host to take to their daughter's swim team picnic the following day.

Caramel cake for a smaller crowd.

Either way, we've got you caramel-covered!

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