Daring Bakers: Amber adventures


The Daring Bakers’ challenge for November was technique driven. We caramelized sugar in two different ways to make a yummy cake and luscious caramel candies and we made a brown butter-based frosting that required caramelizing the natural sugars in butter.

Although the challenge encompassed two recipes and sounds daunting, I was able to make both in the time it took the rest of the family to see Quantum of Solace (sorry Bond lovers, it’s just not my thing).

It was a fun and delicious challenge; in fact, the Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting was eaten long before it had a chance to become stale. All the recipes worked well but if I were to make this dessert again, I’d bake the cake in a smaller pan so that I could cut the cake into two layers since there was more than ample frosting to cloak a layer cake.


For the caramels, I made the recipe using ground vanilla beans (as directed) and garnished my finished candies with Cyprus flake salt and Salish smoked salt. The flake salt was a universal hit, while the smoked salt appealed to the adults exclusively. Truthfully, this Alice Medrich recipe is almost too good, making far more candy than my will power could endure. So, if I make these caramels again, it will be only just before a huge crowd comes over — I just couldn’t leave them alone!

Not to candy coat it, but this was a great challenge! Thanks to the following folks for making it all happen:

Challenge Hosts:
• Delores of Culinary Curiosity
• Alex, the Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo
• Jenny of Foray into Food
• And Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go

Recipe credit goes to:
• Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting by Shuna Fish Lydon
• Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels by Alice Medrich, from Pure Dessert

Hungry for more? View more caramel capers by visiting the blogs published by other members of the Daring Bakers.

28 Responses to Daring Bakers: Amber adventures

  1. Rosa says:

    That slice looks delicious! I love your pretty caramels! Great job!



  2. Natashya says:

    Now I wish I had tried the caramels. Maybe this month.
    I agree that a layer cake would be nice, I have leftover frosting in the fridge.
    Your cake looks great, I love the plate and backdrop too, so pretty!

  3. Christine says:

    I should have tried the caramels. I just didn’t have time! Your cake looks delicious! I can’t remember the last time I saw a Bond film!

  4. Jude says:

    Great salt makes all the difference in caramels. Gotta update my stash from the basic kosher and maldon 🙂

  5. Aran says:

    You made both recipes Dana. And homey is a good thing!

  6. Lorraine E says:

    Your caramels look fantastic! I like the idea of using regular and then smoked salt. That would be intriguing. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. The cake looks really good and the caramels look amazing. Well done

  8. culinography says:

    It all looks wonderful! Well done!

  9. Ruth says:

    Wow both your caramel cake and caramels look delicious. So professional

  10. dinnerwithjulie says:

    I’m baking my cake now.. but don’t have heavy cream to make the caramels. Probably a good thing! I can guarantee they wouldn’t last long in this house. They’d make great Christmas gifts though…

  11. Deeba says:

    What a beatufil slice of cake on a platter that befits it…pretty! Love the caramels & the additions; they sound exquisite. Have yet to try the caramels, as the sugar rush with the cake continiues!

  12. Elra says:

    Hello Dana,
    That is beautiful slice of cake. But, I think I’ll take one or two of your caramel, please?

  13. CookiePie says:

    Beautiful cake, and your caramels look so perfect!

  14. Shari says:

    I’m enjoying my caramels too much too! I’ll have to try sprinkling them with some salt too. Good call on missing the Bond flick. It wasn’t very good!

  15. Marie says:

    Great looking cake and your caramels look delicious.

  16. That special salt must have maked killer caramels! They look really good and so does your cake!

  17. Julia says:

    Kudos for you for making the cake and the caramels. I was in caramel overload and skipped making the caramel candy. I enjoyed the end result but my favorite part was the frosting. I never made browned butter frosting before and it was fabulous. I have a bit left over and am not sure what I’ll do with it. I’m sure I’ll figure out something… oh I know, French Toast for breakfast! 🙂

  18. Lisa says:

    hehe glad the cake went quick.. wish mine would have.. I was forced to eat pretty much the whole damn thing over a period of a week. 😛

    Your caramels look and sound amazing.. I didn’t do them due to time constraints and the fact that I knew I’d eat every one of them as well. *sigh*


    PS – Your pie tips are fabulous.. thank you!!

  19. Your cake looks just lovely! I was pondering baking it again as a square. Mmm…and those caramels! Yum!

  20. Jacque says:

    Oooh, your different salt flavors sound so interesting with the caramels.

    Nice job, everything looks scrumptious!

  21. Dharm says:

    Great looking cake and I’m so impressed you made the caramels too!!

  22. Cakespy says:

    The caramels themselves are a work of art, but to combine them with cake…my heart’s all a-flutter!

  23. BakinginOregon - Erik says:

    Great looking cake and caramels. I suspect the smoked salt would not have appealed to my taste, but the flake salt sounds delicious.

  24. cookiedoc says:

    Mmmm…great job!

  25. bakingobsession says:

    Dana, your cake and the caramels look delicious!

  26. Victoria McQuilkin says:

    Love the food blog – but all this talk of delicious food and no recipies !
    Leaves me hungry !

  27. Victoria McQuilkin says:

    Forget that earlier comment – I found the recipe !

    Can’t wait to make it

  28. […] brown butter frosting, butterscotch pudding, shortbread cookies and tart pastry, brown butter (called beurre noisette by […]

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