Thursday, September 13, 2012

Samoa Cake in Two Parts, or, The Tale of Two Caramels.

Originally pinned from via Earmark Social.

My husband loves, loves, loves, Samoa cookies.  I think I can go so far as to say he covets Samoa cookies. He can eat an entire box and a 1/2 gallon of milk in one sitting.  His obsession is so bad, he hides the boxes in areas where he is sure the teenage boy will not look unless forced. Examples of these places are the washing machine, the dishwasher, the cleaning supply cabinet, and the shed that houses the lawn mower.  Since the cookies are not available year around and being the doting, loving, unselfish, and dedicated house wife that I am (pause while my friends and family stop laughing) I thought I would make this just for him.

I believe I mentioned in my previous post, I am a bit ADHD (my friends and family would probably say I'm a lot ADHD, but this isn't their blog). As a result of said condition, I often decide to try out new things at the spur of the moment, or whenever I remember I had intended to do it.  I usually "remember my intention" around 8:00 PM, which is an hour before my usual bed time (what can I say, I'm old and require sleep to avoid crankiness).

NOTE:  This is NOT a "spur of the moment" recipe. This recipe takes forethought and planning, of which I did neither, so I was surprised it turned out tasty anyway. :D

The original recipe calls for putting an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a Crockpot completely covered in water.  Cook for 7 hours on high or 10 hours on low.  I knew I had 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk in my pantry.  What I didn't realize was how old they were.  I saw a bit of rust on the outside of the cans, but I did not think it was bad enough to cause a food borne illness, so I popped them into the Crockpot anyway.  Bad. Idea.  What I got the next morning was a Crockpot full of rusty water, and resulting caramel that probably could be used for some kind of biological warfare experiment.  In the trashcan they went.

Okay. I wanted to make this cake TODAY.  I was having a menopausal, must have chocolate moment and knew the fate of my mood, and my family's lives depended on it.  I did not want to wait another 7 hours to get started. What to do?  I know! I'll make my own caramel!  How hard can it be?  When am I going to learn to stop asking myself that?

The recipe I have for caramel sauce is pretty simple:  1/2 cup of water
                                                                                         1 cup of sugar
                                                                                         1 cup heavy cream
                                                                                      1/8 tsp salt
                                                                                         1 tsp vanilla extract
                                                                                      1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

The water goes into a 2 quart saucepan, followed by the sugar (pour the sugar directly into the middle of the pan without letting it touch the side, you don't want any pesky crystals spoiling your caramel).

DO NOT STIR!!  Bring the caramel to a boil over high heat, once boiling ,uncover and lower heat to medium.  Now, the recipe calls for cooking the caramel "until it is straw colored or mixture reaches 300 degrees."

 I know what straw looks like, but I didn't want to wing it (which, to be honest, is what I do with most of my recipes), so I broke out my candy thermometer.  I was concerned because the mixture was way past "straw colored" and into burnt sienna and my candy thermometer was still hovering around 250 degrees.  Guess what? The thermometer has to actually be in the sugar mixture. It wasn't until I noticed a burning smell that I actually checked and realized my candy thermometer was not in the caramel, but was hovering over the caramel (insert expletive here).  I tilted the pan to check the temp and the mixture was more like 500 degrees. Phooey! (which is not really what I said, but I don't want to offend anyone with my potty mouth)

I knew it was "slightly" burned, but I knew there was a thing called "burned caramel" so I decided to go with it.  Turns out my caramel had passed burned and had decided to take charcoal to the party.  Blech!

  Not to be deterred.  I started again.  This time I watched the color more closely.

Once the caramel reaches 300 degress, lower heat to medium and cook until the mixture is "deep amber."  Again I didn't want to rely on my powers of observation, so I tilted the pan to check the temprature, which turns out, works much better than the hover method. Go figure.

Warning!  It does not take long to go from "straw colored" to "dark amber,"  1-2 minutes tops. Also, this mixture is hot, hot, hot. Getting this on your skin is equal to stepping into hot lava.  It will melt your skin, resulting in a trip to the hospital and/or the consumption of copious amounts of wine. Plus, your tears of pain will fall into the caramel and make it seperate.   So you will not only have 3rd degree burns, but also a hospital bill, a scar, and the need to start this process over.  Which is impossible to do on wine and Vicodin, and encumbered by a large bandage on your hand.

Once the mixture has reached the desired color/temprature, take it off the heat.  Add 1/4 of the cream and wait until mixture stops boiling. Which turns out to be about 3 minutes. Like I said, this stuff is hot!

   Once the mixture has stopped boiling, add the rest of the cream and stir until smooth.

Patience is rewarded with a beautiful, smooth caramel.

While the caramel is cooling put together your batters.  Yes, batters, this cake has a light and a dark batter.  The recipe calls for you to make both batters, then layer then in a buttered and floured bundt pan.  I am essentially a lazy cook, so I thought I would use the traditional marbling trick of dumping the second batter on top of the first batter and swirling with a knife.

Don't do it that way.  I ended up with a decidedly un-marbled cake.  Still tasty, but not as visually impressive.
The recipe calls for making a frosting with the caramel, sugar, butter (2 sticks!), vanilla, and coconut.  While I am sure this is delicous, I am also sure this would have been too sweet for my family.  Besides, I told you the part about me being lazy, and I was exhausted after making the caramel, so I decide to stick with the caramel and the coconut as the topping.  I simply spooned the caramel over the cooked cake, pressed on the toasted coconut with my hands, and then drizzled the melted chocolate over the top.
You might be wondering why I do not have a picture of the finished product.  Well, before I was able to take a picture, my voracious Velociraptor cut into, and consumed, a large piece before I could take the picture. :-/
This cake was gone in about a day and a half.  There are only 3 humans who live here (though I realize I am being generous by refering to a 15 year old boy as "human"). It was just so spectacularly delicious.
I did not post the entire recipe ingredients here.  Lazy. Remember?  I am posting the link to the recipe and give all credit to Betsy, the awesome woman who developed this recipe.


  1. Now make a Thin Mint cake! Those are my favorites!

  2. Thanks for reading. I have been brainstorming a thin mint cake. It should be coming soon.