November 29, 2010

Caramel Italian Cream Cake

This Italian cream cake is good, but with its frosting, oh its creamy caramel frosting, the coconut-pecan cake is divine. At one sitting my grandmother told me no less than four times that it was "so good;" she does love butter more than anyone I know. And the whole family thought it was the best of our treats on our Thanksgiving retreat to the lake.
Caramelizing brown sugar and butter transforms their union into a class of its own. Mix that the caramel mixture with powdered sugar (yes, more sugar) and vanilla, and you'd better make sure someone else is around to help you lick the frosting bowl. If left to lick it on your own, you will not be able stop and hence will create dangerous potential sugar coma conditions. It was necessary to pronounce aloud, "This is so good!" each time I sampled the frosting, if you can call the number of bites I took a "sample."

I had been anxiously awaiting baking this beauty since I had the privilege of tasting it while Southern Living test kitchen was perfecting it. They did get the recipe quite perfect, but the magazine fancified it with cream cheese icing and shaved coconut on the sides. I tweaked the recipe to put more spotlight on the caramel frosting that I can't stop talking about; plus, "basic" homemade layer cakes require enough labor as is.

Caramel Italian Cream Cake
From Southern Living, with a few tweaks

1  cup  finely chopped pecans
1/2  cup  butter, softened
1/2  cup  shortening
1 1/2  cups  granulated sugar
1/2  cup  firmly packed dark brown sugar
5  large eggs, separated
1  tablespoon  vanilla extract
2  cups  all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon  baking soda
1  cup  buttermilk
1  cup  sweetened flaked coconut
Quick Caramel Frosting (below)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place pecans in a shallow pan. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until pecans are lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

2. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add granulated and brown sugars, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla, beating until blended.

3. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in pecans and 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut.

4. Beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form, and fold into batter. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

5. Bake at 350° for 23 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

6. Prepare Quick Caramel Frosting. Immediately spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.

Quick Caramel Frosting

1  cup  butter
1  cup  firmly packed light brown sugar
1  cup  firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2  cup  heavy cream
4  cups  powdered sugar, sifted
2  teaspoons  vanilla extract

1. Bring first 3 ingredients to a rolling boil in a 3 1/2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly (about 7 minutes).

2. Stir in cream, and bring to a boil; remove from heat. Pour into bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Gradually beat in powdered sugar and vanilla at medium speed, using whisk attachment; beat 8 to 12 minutes or until thickened. Use immediately.

Tip: Don't panic if you overbeat the frosting. Thin to a spreadable consistency by adding 1 to 2 tsp. hot water.

1 comment:

  1. Heard about this and can't wait to try it. YUM! Thanks for posting.


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