So this week, as I’ve been talking about my blog at work, I was challenged to come in with some office treats. I think I definitely overstretched myself on a Wednesday evening!
For in I came with a made up concoction – Chocolate caramel cake, topped with caramel icing and salted pecan brittle. I agree – even I was impressed that I managed that all in an evening after work… The end result was great though – a light, moist chocolate sponge, buttery (although made without normal butter!) sweet caramel buttercream icing, with a crunchy piece of nutty brittle on top – delightful. And the best comment from a friend who tried it – they would never have guessed or been able to tell it was dairy free. Music to my ears!
I will admit that I had to do the caramel sauce for the icing twice. The first time my thoughts were on dinner so I overcooked it slightly… and in the bin it went! Also, having neglected to properly check ingredients, I did not see that I only had about a third of the required amount of cocoa powder, so a certain amount of improvisation was needed that I would not do again. I added 60g of a dark 80% chocolate bar which I thought would compensate, but the resulting sponge was not chocolatey enough my colleges and I decided.
The pecan brittle was a real first attempt, and worked surprisingly well. It was just on the right side of burnt – with a smokiness that cut through the usual sugary sweetness of brittles. I have though bought myself a sugar thermometer for next time to ensure it doesn’t go to the wrong side of burnt 🙂
So, to the recipe:
Salted Caramel Sauce:
I’m not going to attempt to explain this! I followed the recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction and substituted the butter for dairy free butter, and heavy cream for soya cream. I have to say this is an extremely useful post, the pictures do a fantastic job explaining what it should look like at every stage. I made the full amount of sauce (200g of sugar) for this cake.
Chocolate caramel sponge:
- 220g dairy free butter (I use Pure sunflower)
- 180g light muscavado sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 220g self raising flour
- 3 tablespoons of good quality cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp soya milk
- 1 1/2 tbsp caramel sauce
- Line a 22cm x 33cm baking tray with baking paper – or place 18 cupcake cases in a cupcake tray. I actually did a combination (6 cupcakes, the rest as a tray bake), so the choice is yours. Just remember to change your baking times as the recipe states below.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
- Use the all in one method to create the cake batter. Place all sponge ingredients in a large bowl, and mix until evenly combined.
- Spoon the batter into your tray or cupcake cases. Even out the batter in your traybake, and drop the tray from a small height a few times to get rid of any air holes in the batter.
- Traybake: If using the full amount of batter in your traybake, bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the cake and it has slightly shrunk away from the sides of the tray. If using less than the full amount of batter start testing if the cake is cooked from 20 minutes onwards.
- Cupcakes: Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Caramel Buttercream Icing:
- 85g dairy free butter
- 160g golden icing sugar
- Caramel Sauce, to taste.
- Add the butter and icing sugar into a large bowl and mix for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the caramel sauce to the icing – start with a few tablespoons, mix and then taste. Continue to add more and then taste to get the flavour to your liking.
- Add a little more icing sugar if needed to firm up the icing.
- Top the cake(s) with the icing.
- 100g white caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 100g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
- Generous pinch of sea salt
- Line a tray with baking paper or foil.
- Add the sugar and water to a heavy bottoms saucepan and stir until evenly wet. Try to avoid many sugar crystals going onto the side of the pot – this can cause crystallisation when the sugar melts which will give your final brittle a grainy appearance.
- Put the sugar over a medium/ high heat and do not stir! Only gently stir the pan occasionally to ensure the sugar melts evenly.
- The sugar will begin to melt and boil – keep going.
- Soon the sugar will begin to brown. This is the beginning of caramelisation. Keep going!
- Once the sugar is that beautiful deep amber colour, turn off the heat, throw in the nuts and salt, and give the brittle a stir.
- Tip the brittle onto your prepared tray, and before it begins to harden, spread the nuts out into an even layer.
- Once completely cool, cut or break the brittle into pieces.
- Top your cake(s) with the brittle and serve.