I never knew about caramel cake until that movie, The Help. This is not that cake, because I’ve made that cake and it was soooooo sweet I could only eat one bite. Not that the original caramel cake isn’t fantabulous and oh so Southern, it’s just really sweet. I never shared it here, because I thought you’d take one bite and shudder a bit, like I did.
Then something remarkable happened.
I was sitting in the Fire Fly Restaurant in Nashville and I ordered dessert. Caramel cake.
I never had a better cake in my entire life and in my next post I’ll tell you about it as I’m still trying to duplicate it, which is impossible. It has a dark chocolate bottom and a yellow cake top. The caramel icing is more caramel icing than frosting, and you will break your diet for it. In fact, you’ll set yourself back a week. This is not that frosting either.
I purposely wanted something whippier, creamier, yet would still taste completely caramel, because there is not a better taste in world than genuine caramel. I say genuine because caramel flavor is not real caramel.
How to Make Caramel
The first thing you do is make caramel, which is easy and hard at the same time.
Easy because you don’t do anything except put water and sugar in a pan 1 to 3 ratio and cook it on medium heat and then add cream at the end. Hard, because you want that amber color, but if it burns, you have to throw it out.
If you take it off the stove before it turns amber, it’s weak, tasteless and while you don’t have to throw it out, you have sugar frosting, but it’s not going to taste like caramel.
See that awesome dark amber color. A few more seconds and it’s burned. It’s like a fight to the finish. Who is going to win. You or the stove?
I consider the world’s best caramel frosting recipe because you can pipe it, and it does not fall.
A lot of caramel icings/frostings out there are weepy, saggy, and while they have a deeper caramel color, they are too sweet. Butter is the key to giving this frosting structure and taking balancing the sweetness. It will change the caramel color, but not the caramel flavor.
The cake I told you about has a dark chocolate bottom that offsets their sweet frosting, but if you’re simply going for a caramel cake, this is the frosting I highly recommend. I put his on a perfect yellow cake which I’ll share in my next post.
Feel free to put this on chocolate cupcakes with a salty caramel frosting, like I did here.
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1½ sticks butter, softened at room temperature
- 3 cups confectioner's sugar
- Caramel from above recipe
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon sea salt (more for topping)
- heat sugar and water together on medium heat. Do not stir while cooking. Once it starts to boil, keep an eye for a amber color, but not too dark that it burns. Turn heat off, add cream. It will bubble. Stir until incorporated. Transfer to stainless steel bowl to cool.
- blend butter until whipped
- Add Confectioner's sugar and salt until it's the consistency of smooth frosting.
- Add in heavy cream. Incorporate well.
- Add in caramel. Whip until smooth.
- Top frosting with more sea salt as desired. (optional0
- At this point, you can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or 3 days until you want ot use. Take out an hour before frosting cake. You can also freeze frosting.