January 30, 2009

Old Fashioned Caramel Frosting

I've loved the flavor of spiced cake and caramel or maple frosting since I was a kid, so my mom always made it for me for my birthday. I carried on that tradition, making it for me from scratch for my birthday since I got married. And like I said in the last posting, where I wrote the cake recipe, my daughter Heather made it for me for this year's birthday when Monte and me arrived at her new home in Texas. She left for me, the frosting to make. 

It's considered a Boiled or Cooked Frosting, and I've been making it from the Joy of Cooking cookbook all these years. But when we moved to 8000 feet elevation in Evergreen, Colorado from Tucson, Arizona, the recipe did not work and I had to do a lot of reading and figuring.

Old-Fashioned Caramel Frosting
In a medium saucepan heat and stir until sugar is dissolved:
2 c packed brown sugar
1 c heavy cream
Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Spoon down any sugar on the sides of the pan and cook uncovered, hardly stirring, until the syrup reaches 238 degrees. Remove from the heat and add, without stirring:
3 Tb butter (unsalted if you have it)
Set aside, without stirring, until the mixture cools to 110 degrees and stir in:
1 tsp vanilla.

The 238 degrees is where I had to change the recipe (and it has an optional addition of rum flavoring which I don't like). It was in the Joy of Cooking's "Know Your Ingredients" chapter, and maybe under making candy, and maybe even canning, that I figured it out. Cooking and canning temperatures and timings are set for sea level. At 8000 ft I had to lower the temperature to 18_ degrees (I'm not at home with my cookbook and notes. But at my elevation, boiling water temp is at 186, which means 20 minutes of waterbath canning time stretches out to 46 minutes for me! And I think when making candy, that soft-ball stage at 238 has to lower about 2 degrees per thousand ft or is it hundreds?)

Once the frosting is cooled and vanilla added you beat it with a hand mixer in the pan (or you have to transfer it to a mixing bowl) till it gets thickened creamy.

The recipe actually makes more frosting than the cake needs, but my kids always wanted the extra to add to their cake slices or spread on ginger cookies or graham crackers. Yummm ....

In Ogema, Wisconsin, Monte's Aunt Ruby makes this cake frosting. Even last year she had it at an event and I recognized it and we talked about it. She says it's everybody's favorite. Aunt Ruby is the only other person I know who makes it. She raised her family on a dairy farm, so you know her cream had to be the BEST ever!
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