Helping Out a Friend: Caramel Cake

A friend of mine recently told me about her quest to make a birthday cake for every student in her class. The catch: she is not allowing herself to repeat any cakes. She has held to this so far and I am impressed. When I asked her if she had done caramel cake yet, she said she hadn’t, and I knew I had to share this recipe with her. My mother recently discovered this one. I don’t think I’ve ever had a cake this delicious before. The recipe is really only for the icing, because it is so flavorful that it overwrites the rest of the cake. The icing is very sweet, so you can modify it if you don’t prefer that, but I do not usually like overly sweet desserts and I LOVE this cake. It’s great for a big group because you can’t eat much in one sitting.

Caramel Cake


Approximate Cooking Time:
3 hours, if baking cake; 1 hour, if just frosting

one unfrosted yellow cake (can be made from mix)

1/2 c. butter
1 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 c. light cream or evaporated milk
2 c. unsifted confectioner’s sugar
1 t. vanilla or 1/2 t. maple extract

Bake cake and cool for at least 1.5 hours. When ready to make frosting, melt the butter over a low heat. Remove from heat and add the brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Put the mixture back on the heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 min then reduce the heat to low. When the mixture has cooled a bit, add the cream and return to just barely boiling. Once it is just barely boiling, remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool until it reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which will be when the bottom of the saucepan just feels warm (it is best to measure this with a candy thermometer). With a wooden spoon or an electric mixer set to medium, add the confectioner’s sugar. If the frosting is too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar until the frosting reaches the desired consistency, then add the vanilla. Finally, sit the frosting in a bowl of ice water and beat it until it is thick enough to spread (this requires care so as not to put ice water into the frosting). Spread the icing on the cake and serve.


Note: If you want a stronger caramel flavor, use a combination of light and dark brown sugar, or replace the light brown sugar entirely with dark brown sugar.


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