Monday, January 19, 2015

Salted Caramel Coma Cake

A buttery malt sponge sandwiched together with layers of caramel and toffee buttercream with just a touch of sea salt. Can I get an 'Amen?'
 THIS cake is what I think of New Year's resolutions that involve exercising and dieting. Caramel on top of caramel, on top of more caramel - this, can never be a bad thing. 

I've written about my affinity for salted caramel before (although not to be confused with my infatuated love affair with chocolate) and while the world may move on from the salted caramel obsession. I refuse. And there is a very good reason why. 

I'm going to quote myself (can one even do that?! oh well here goes...) from a post I did 2 years ago but only because at the time, in my caramel-induced coma,  I (unknowingly) solved one of the world's greatest problems: Salted Caramel Cake Guilt

cake guilt
  1. 1.
    the fact of having committed a specified or implied offence by indulging in too much cake.

"Add a pinch of salt to caramel and you have an earth-shattering combination that is basically the crack cocaine of the culinary world. The reason for this? Consuming fat, sugar and salt all together is a serious sensory overdrive for our brains - it releases dopamine and adrenaline and totally gets our neurons fired up. Exactly the way drugs do.
But before you feel guilty about shovelling another spoonful of caramel straight out the jar, don't, because genetically we're supposed to be attracted to foods with this tantalising trifector. It's a matter of survival, people! We need salt because we can't produce our own. We need fat for energy and our sugar cravings are linked to being able to tell which foods are edible (cave-man days)." 

So, the lesson here is, make this caramel cake and while you drift into a blissful toffee coma, do not feel one pang of guilt, because... you can't fight genetics. 

Salted Caramel Coma Cake
Recipe by Katelyn Williams

260g butter, softened
100g golden syrup
200g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
250g cake flour
2 tsp (10ml) baking powder
60g malted milk powder (aka Horlicks)
40ml milk

Toffee buttercream
120g white sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) water
3/4 cup (180ml) cream
250g butter, softened

200g (1/2 tin) tinned caramel or dulce de leche spread
Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling
Caramel popcorn, to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celcius. 
Line the bottoms of 2 x 15cm springform cake tins and set aside.
Cream together the butter, syrup and brown sugar until very light and creamy (about 8-10 minutes).
Beat in the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. 
Sift in the cake flour, baking powder and milk powder and fold together, adding the milk to form a thick batter. 
Divide the batter between the two cake tins and spread evenly. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and the cake has pulled away from the sides. 
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, upside down, on a cooling rack. 

To make the buttercream, place the sugar and water in a pan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. 
Bring to the boil and simmer, without stirring, until the mixture begins caramelising. 
Once the syrup reaches a toffee-colour, pour in the cream and swirl to combine. 
Allow to cool completely. 
Cream the butter until very white and fluffy (about 8-10 minutes) then add the toffee sauce and whip to combine. 

To assemble, slice each cake in half to create 4 layers. 
Spread the first layer with tinned caramel then a layer of buttercream and top with the next cake layer. Continue until 4 layers are formed. 
Frost the entire cake using the buttercream (I used some tinned caramel along the bottom of the cake to achieve an ombre affect). 
Place the remaining buttercream in a piping bag (to create a swirled effect, simply smear stripes of caramel in the piping bag before adding the buttercream) then pipe blobs onto the top of the cake. 
Place in the refrigerator to set. 
To serve, sprinkle with sea salt flakes and top with caramel popcorn (if desired). 

TIP: To make a 25cm cake with 4 layers, double the recipe above.


Caramel latte loaf cake 
Creme caramel
Caramel macarons with chocolate sea salt
Caramel peppermint crisp cake

Monday, January 12, 2015

Chocolate Hazelnut Ginger Kisses

Known as 'Baci di dama' in Italy, or 'lady kisses' these gluten-free little cookies are perfectly appropriate (with a little ginger added of course) seeing as though today is International Kiss a Ginger Day. Instead of going around kissing random (ginger/red-headed) strangers, I think perhaps giving them a 'kiss' ie. a small cute cookie which can be popped whole into the mouth, is a little more... proper. I know this, because I've had some awkward smooches from people today! (Okay, I enjoyed it, just a little bit!)

Traditionally these baci are made with toasted hazelnuts, but toasted almonds would be equally delicious! As would sandwiching them together with melted white chocolate, although the dark bitter kind paired with the ginger is heavenly! If you're going all-out with the ginger, then double the spice. If you aren't a ginger fan then simply leave it out. It's such a versatile dough that you could add whichever flavourings you like - some orange zest, cocoa powder for a chocolate version or even a chai-spiced cookie would be delicious!

Happy baking - and don't forget to give a kiss to a ginger today!

Chocolate hazelnut ginger kisses or 'Baci di Dama'
Makes 40

140g hazelnuts (or almonds), toasted and skinned
140g (1 cup) rice flour or corn starch
1 tsp ground ginger
100g butter, softened
100g sugar
pinch of salt
100g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped and melted

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line two baking sheets. Place the nuts in a food process and process until the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Add the flour, spice, butter, sugar and salt and pulse until the mixture comes together to form a soft dough.Divide the dough into three pieces and roll each into 2cm thick logs then refrigerate until firm. Working with one piece of dough at a time, cut off small pieces of dough (about 5g each) then roll into little balls and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Sandwich together with melted chocolate and allow to set.