We make wonderful caramel cakes. For those of you who have never had one, we're talking sinful. It's a moist white cake with cooked caramel icing (recipe - which will be in our new cookbook - follows).
There are lots of ways to make caramel icing but the best results come from cooking the sugar, butter and heavy cream. The icing should NOT contain confectioners' sugar but it DOES melt in your mouth with plenty of calories. If you are a glutton for punishment, you start with white granulated sugar, caramelize it, and continue from there. We start with brown sugar, which saves time and (in my humble opinion) does not sacrifice taste. Letting the icing rest overnight, then beating it until fluffy, makes it easy to spread on a cake, a major problem with many caramel icing recipes.
So we made one of these a few weeks ago. It was beautiful. It got picked up on a Saturday. On Monday I get a phone call.
Customer: I really was disappointed in the caramel cake.
Me: I'm so sorry, what was the problem?
Customer: It tasted just like brown sugar.
Me: Uh... You didn't like it?
Customer: No, we couldn't eat it.
Me: Do you still have it?
Customer: Yes, can I bring it back?
So they bring it back. Still in the box. Just one small slice missing. Since I didn't want to taste it in front of her (thought that would be rude, besides, the customer is always right), I gave her a refund, with a complimentary box of cookies for her troubles. As soon as she walked out the door, we all gathered round to see what the problem was. Took the cake out of the box. LOL. The icing on the entire back of the cake was missing, as if a cat or other small animal had licked it off. So maybe it did taste like brown sugar but we decided to take her word for it.
Mary's Caramel Icing Recipe
2 lbs. brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup butter
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the cream and brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook the icing for five minutes, continuing to stir to prevent scorching.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Whip at medium speed until icing is completely cooled. If sugar crystals form, add a little water (1 teaspoon at a time) until the icing is smooth and crystal-free. Cover the icing and let it sit at least eight hours or overnight. The next day, return the icing to the mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until light and fluffy. The icing is now ready to use. Keep it away from your cat.