Do you know Chris Kimball? The entrepreneur, front man, personality and presence behind the Cook’s Illustrated / Cook’s Country / America’s Test Kitchen empire? About a year ago a friend recommended The New Best Recipe, which is Kimball’s classic cookbook. It applies the Kimball approach — exhaustive testing of every recipe to achieve The Best Recipe — to classic American recipes. Now I’m an acolyte (three cookbooks and a magazine subscription) and consult Chris frequently for the best way to make… well, anything, really.
A recent email from The Man Himself (actually, a newsletter sent to thousands of people, but whatever) mentioned a caramel cake, saying that it was not too fussy. Since Chris made it, I knew it would be delicious, and as you know, I’m a lazy dessert maker, so this sounded right up my alley.
This frosting was absolutely fantastic. Like all good frosting, it was sweet and rich, and the caramel provided complexity that took the cake to a whole other dimension. I love the salty-sweet combination.
The recipe provides for making the cake from scratch (this is Chris Kimball we’re talking about), but that sounded like work, so I just made a Duncan Hines cake with the homemade frosting. (Honestly, even baking the cake from a mix was a pain. All that measuring.) Delicious, a big hit for a dinner party, and amazing leftover cake all week.
SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING
12 tbl butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened a bit
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1. Heat 8 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, and salt in a pot over medium heat until bubbles appear around the edge (six minutes or so).
2. Add cream and cook until more bubbles appear (one minute). Turn off heat and add vanilla.
3. Transfer mixture to bowl and gradually mix in confectioners sugar with electric mixer on low. When sugar is incorporated, increase speed to medium and beat about five minutes. Add remaining butter one piece at a time and continue to beat another two minutes.