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Caramel Buttercream


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28 replies to this topic

#1 Michael M

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 07:52 AM

This weekend was my partner's birthday, along with a good friend of ours, so we celebrated by having people over for dinner. I used eGullet + my own recipes to construct a birthday cake:

Wendy's Banana Cake (which I love and have made a few times), filled with chocolate brandied ganache and French caramel buttercream with brandy and pralines. All frosted with caramel buttercream. But therein lies my question.

For the filling, I mixed pureed hazelnut praline into some of the buttercream, and that went between two of the layers. I know this creates a caramelized flavor, but for the actual buttercream base, I wanted smooth caramel, as in caramelized white sugar (not brown sugar).

So I caramelized half of the recipe's sugar (from Recipe Gullet) dry, then attempted to dissolve that with the water from the recipe, using some heavy cream instead, brought it up to hard ball, etc.

This turned out just fine, but it took about a zillion hours to get the hard caramel to dissolve. A google search turned up an Italian meringue version of this, but I wanted the richness of the yolks, and couldn't find another recipe for what I wanted.

So how would you do this? I figure I need to caramelize the sugar with some water so it's less sticky, but then I would need another liquid (or some of the butter?) to dissolve it and bring it to hard ball. Any process ideas from the experts? Thanks.

Here were the results:
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#2 racheld

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 09:17 AM

OH, MY!!! That is a GORGEOUS cake!! And all the details about your work and improv and all that rich, wonderful filling and frosting, etc. Great post.

And the embellishments ALL look almost like clear jewels...are they transparent? Molded, handformed---what?

Simply stunning. :wub:

rachel
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#3 Michael M

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 09:40 AM

And the embellishments ALL look almost like clear jewels...are they transparent?  Molded, handformed---what?

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When I caramelized the hazelnuts, they were suspended on toothpicks over a teflon cake pan and the caramel came off in these amber drops. I liked it so much I made more of them, let them dry, and used tweezers to place them on the cake. Pretty nifty effect for a serendipitous accident.

#4 jgarner53

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 11:08 AM

Beautiful cake! I love the caramel drips.
"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

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#5 chefette

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 02:05 PM

First of all - I would basically stick with the base French Buttercream recipe.

I like the following:

5 yolks (about 100g)
1 egg (about 50g)
400 g sugar
80g water
700g unsalted butter

You can just caramelize the sugar from the recipe - but then it is really too hot to add to the eggs and you would need to cool it enough to combine well. Can't say that this is the recommended approach

Assuming you go with a reasonably dark caramel I don't think that you need adjust the sugar. I think that you can add the caramel in a variety of ways:

Make a dark caramel and add enough water to make it a very thick liquid (as if you were adding the cream to make caramel sauce) cool and add to buttercream to taste.

You can make a caramel powder by pouring your hot caramel out on a silpat or parchment to allow it to harden - pulverize it in the food processor and then add that to the buttercream. It tends to ball up on contact with moist ingredients so you may find it works best to use the caramel powder to add to you hot sugar syrup or make a paste by adding a bit of water and then mix that in.

I am not advocating any quantities on the caramel because I think it needs to be to taste. I often make up quantities of hard caramel that I keep in airtight boxes with dessicant then pulverize it when I need some.

But that is just my go-to inventive approach. You can probably find a recipe.

#6 Michael M

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:28 PM

Chefette, thanks. That's the recipe I use, and I like your ideas, which I hadn't thought of. Actually, I can't find a recipe in my usual haunts.

#7 bkeith

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 05:50 AM

Make a dark caramel and add enough water to make it a very thick liquid (as if you were adding the cream to make caramel sauce)  cool and add to buttercream to taste.

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I'll second that. I keep a container of caramel sauce in the fridge (with cream), and just stir some of that into my standard French buttercream when I need caramel buttercream. The bonus is that there's always caramel sauce in the fridge in case a rogue bowl of ice cream comes a-knocking.
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#8 Michael M

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 03:00 PM

BKeith, nice cakes on your website. OK, thanks for the second; sounds like a good plan. Rogue bowl of ice cream, yea, right.

#9 chefette

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 12:25 PM

I have been thinking about the caramel buttercream all week and decided to test out my two contributions. Here is the recipe that I liked in the end:

I thought adding a tough of cognac really intensified the experience - well - I guess a little cognac almost always does...

Caramel Buttercream

Make a caramel syrup
450g sugar
100g water
Pour sugar in a small saucepan and add the water without stirring
This should be planty of water to moisten all the sugar and create a ‘wet sand’
Cover and cook over high heat until sugar is boiling
Remove cover and cook to dark caramel
(in my test it timed out to about 13 minutes on the stove)
Turn off heat
add 120g water just a little at a time an wait for the volcano action to subside after each addition
stir and let cool

- I contemplated cooling the syrup to soft ball and adding it directly to the eggs as the sugar but opted to use the caramel as extra

Make buttercream (French)
5 yolks plus enough whites to reach 120g
1 egg (50g)
400 g sugar
80g water
750g butter (cubed)
Cognac to taste

Whip eggs to frothy & light
Cook sugar to firm ball (120C)
Pour sugar into whipping eggs
Add butter and whip

Add caramel syrup to buttercream to taste – (I liked about 400g syrup)
If you find that the buttercream starts to get too soupy – add another 30-50g butter (softened) and whip

#10 chefette

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 12:58 PM

And about 1/4tsp salt
I add it to the whipping eggs

#11 chefette

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 01:49 PM

I took pictures too if that is helpful:

Sugar ready to cook (both for caramel syrup and for french buttercream - same method to start
Caramel Buttercream

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Sugar covered while coming to boil

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Sugar boiling

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Just starting to caramelize (for caramel syrup only- if this is happening to your syrup for the buttercream add some water now!)

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About the right color caramel (test on a white silicon spatula or drizzle a bit on same white parchment or a plate to check the color)

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After adding water

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Eggs ready to whip

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Lightened eggs about ready for sugar (where I add the salt)

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Pouring in sugar (I am forced to use my left hand because of the camera so I have to rest the pan on the lip of the bowl - I am just not that ambidexterous) the whisk is at high speed whipping while I add the hot sugar syrup

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Butter

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Most of the butter whipped in

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Caramel syrup

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Buttercream (yummy) - but extra yummy with cognac

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And the white chocolate brownies for my little sister are done at the same time

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#12 JSkilling

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 05:13 PM

I'm going to make this for this weekend's cake! I'm making the banana cake again which I'll layer with this caramel buttercream and a filling of rum laced cream cheese either buttercream or icing...

I've not made buttercream with egg yolks so I'm expecting a richer more full bodied taste than the Swiss buttercream I've been making.

Thanks!
Josette

#13 chefette

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 05:17 PM

The french butter cream is more rich and luxurious and softer than the italian.

#14 racheld

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 07:56 AM

Make a dark caramel and add enough water to make it a very thick liquid (as if you were adding the cream to make caramel sauce)  cool and add to buttercream to taste.

View Post



I'll second that. I keep a container of caramel sauce in the fridge (with cream), and just stir some of that into my standard French buttercream when I need caramel buttercream. The bonus is that there's always caramel sauce in the fridge in case a rogue bowl of ice cream comes a-knocking.

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I'm glad this thread surfaced again; one more look at that glorious cake and all its sweet jewelry---oh, my.

I keep several sauces in the fridge, as well, just because. And those rogue bowls of ice cream---we take in all comers---rogues and fugitives and ladylike simpering ones selling cosmetics, as well as big old bowls of homemade, big as hubcaps, crank-turned in the Summer shade. They're the ones which look around warily, finally stepping in. We are the veritable Underground Railroad for traveling ice creams, offering a night's rest and a kind word.

We're sure there's a mark on the house somewhere, like the hobo graffiti of decades past, ensuring a haven with no questions asked. Perhaps someday we'll be internationally recognized as a sweets hostel, taking in the weary; until then, we'll just keep on welcoming all flavors and creeds, one bowl at a time. :biggrin:

Edited by racheld, 16 May 2005 - 08:05 AM.

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And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
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#15 Michael M

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 04:28 PM

1) It's been great stepping back and letting the experts here do their thing - thanks, chefette.

2) Racheld, something creepy about an Undergroun Railroad for itinerent ice creams, considering what I expect ends up happening to them!

#16 oceanfish

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 07:00 AM

can the caramel buttercream be left at room temperature overnight? i know the answer to this (i think) but i am just hoping there is enough sugar in the recipe somehow to allow me to use it on a cake that won't be refrigerated.

#17 Anne Mathews

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 05:38 AM

This post inspired me to try caramel buttercream. I'm auditioning recipes for my wedding cake, and this sounded perfect.

The cake will have to spend some time outside, in Chicago, in mid-July, so I went with Italian buttercream for stability. For the same reason, I didn't want to soften the buttercream by adding caramel sauce or syrup to a traditional buttercream (nor did I want to oversweeten), so I decided to go with the caramel powder trick. I made a hard caramel from RLB's recipe (1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1/8 t. cream of tartar, heated to 350 and cooled) and pulverized it in my food processor. It got a bit clumpy, but fine.

I then added 1/4 cup noncaramelized sugar and proceeded with the Italian meringue buttercream recipe: heated the sugar with 2/3 c. water, beat 5 egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar, added the sugar syrup when it reached 238 degrees, beat in 1 pound butter until frosting-y. I'm pleased to report that the caramel had no trouble dissolving in the water. The frosting curdled a bit at first, but it came together nicely. I now have 4 cups of smooth buttercream in that gorgeous caramel color.

The flavor is a bit burnt, which I would have preferred avoiding but is not altogether unpleasant. I may be pairing this with a chocolate cake and a banana cake, and I will test the frosting against those flavors. (I now have 2 cups of this in the fridge just waiting for my test cakes, and 2 cups in the freezer to see how it behaves.) I wonder if the burnt flavor could be mitigated by using a higher proportion of noncaramelized to caramelized sugar. I don't want to lose the caramel flavor or beautiful color, though. And because of all the caramelized sugar, the frosting is less sweet, which I do like.

I am thinking of a three-tier cake all frosted in this stuff and decorated with hard caramel shards. I don't know how well the shards would hold up in the heat of July, though.

#18 JSkilling

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 05:52 AM

I think if you don't take your caramel up so high next time you'll avoid the burnt taste. I use a more light golden color when I'm making this and the chocolate caramel ganache and prefer the lighter taste. I'm all for burnt sugar in other applications, but here it's nice to just get a smooth caramel taste.

I don't know how it will hold up outside in the July heat. Others have enough experience to know what will hold up and I'm sure they'll chime in. In our DC heat I'd be afraid of a puddle...
Josette

#19 MightyD

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 05:07 AM

hi all,

i need to make a caramel imbc for an upcoming wedding and would prefer not to add a finished caramel to plain imbc as i feel that it would make it too sweet.

has anyone tried making an imbc with brown sugar? or caramelizing the sugar before adding it to the stiff egg whites?

any help would be much appreciated!

#20 SweetSide

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 05:27 AM

I haven't made this with brown sugar, but that may work as well.

Caramel:
2 Cups granulated sugar
4 oz butter -- softened
1 1/3 Cups heavy cream -- heated

Caramelize the sugar. When it is the color you like (I make mine medium amber; lighter and the flavor won't come through well in the buttercream), add the warmed cream and butter to make the caramel. Stir over low heat until smooth. Refrigerate until cool.

Whip 1 lb butter. When light, slowly pour in the caramel. Continue to beat until smooth and fluffy.


I guess without the eggs, this is an American buttercream and not IMBC, but it is good...
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#21 Dailey

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 09:45 AM

i've made smbc with brown sugar substitued for the white. it tasted very good, my husband said it tasted like maple. :smile:

#22 RodneyCk

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 09:54 AM

I have made IMB with brown sugar. It is actually called "butterscotch" and more like a butterscotch flavor. It is VERY good.

For carmel, a deeper brown flavor, use the recipe posted above or use my favorite;

Caramel Buttercream
Important - Make the Caramel Sauce (recipe below) before making the Italian Meringue Buttercream.
Change to Italian Meringue Buttercream recipe: Bring the sugar/water mixture up to 325°, instead of 248° to 250°. It should turn a deep golden amber color. Do not let it turn dark brown, or it will taste burned.

Remove syrup from the heat and allow to cool to about 260°. Then, use it in place of the regular sugar syrup and proceed with the Italian Meringue Buttercream recipe.
When the buttercream is finished and all of the butter has been added and the mixture is smooth, beat 1 cup of the Caramel Sauce into each batch (7 cups of buttercream.)

The Buttercream is now ready to use and may be stored and reconstituted as for regular Italian Meringue Buttercream.

While this buttercream can be made 1 month ahead and frozen, it tastes best when fresh.


Caramel Sauce
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Bring the cream to a boil over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan; set aside, keeping warm. Place the sugar and water in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Stir to moisten the sugar and cook over a low-medium heat, without stirring, until the syrup begins to color. Wash down the sides of the pot once or twice with a damp pastry brush.
2. When the syrup is a golden amber color, remove from the heat and carefully pour in the warm cream. The mixture
may bubble up furiously. Allow the mixture to calm down, then gently whisk until smooth. (If the cream is too cool, it will cause the caramel to seize. If this happens,
place the pot back over a low heat and stir until the sauce liquefies.) Stir in the vanilla off the heat.
Store refrigerated in an airtight container. It should be room temperature and fluid when added to the buttercream.
Reheat in a double boiler or microwave before using, if necessary.
Makes 2 2/3 cups

*edited to include recipe*

Edited by RodneyCk, 13 July 2006 - 10:00 AM.


#23 choux

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 01:51 PM

I just made one last night! I use brown sugar instead of white, and I love the way it tastes. The brown sugar syrup bubbles and foams a lot more than white, so use a pot that is big enough! A pinch of salt really brings out the flavour, and some vanilla too.

#24 JeanneCake

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 04:52 PM

Another alternative is to make caramel, let it cool on a silpat or foil, smash it up then grind it in a robot coupe and add it to the finished buttercream. The burnt sugar of the caramel comes through and the finished buttercream isn't too sweet - I live dangerously, though (having burned myself more than once, you'd think I'd have learned by now) and make the caramel pretty dark - almost but not quite to the bitter edge.

#25 MightyD

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 04:57 PM

rodneyck - to make your version, is it just exactly like a regular imbc but you bring the temp up higher? same proportions etc?

choux - do you just replace the white sugar with the brown? what temp do you bring it up to?

jeannecake - your idea sounds REALLY good too! i like it that the caramel shards would provide a textural interest although i'm not sure if you could feel it through all that cake!

wow - egulleters ALWAYS come through!!!! you guys rock!!

#26 RodneyCk

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 04:59 PM

There is also dulce de leche which is a lot like caramel and so good. It is also easier to make, especially if you do not want to go to all the trouble of boiling sugar.

Dulce De Leche

This is a very sweet treat used in Mexican cooking usually prepared for the Day of the Dead. It can be compared to a caramel in texture. Use as a filling or transform into a buttercream icing.

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Remove the label from the can of condensed milk. Do not under any circumstances open the can yet. Take the can and stick it in a pot. Cover it with water. Put the pot on a stove and turn up the heat. Let the pot and can boil for about two hours for runny dulce de leche or about three for solid dulce de leche.
When it’s done, open up the can and eat directly (for the solid variety) or use as a dessert spread (for the liquid variety).
OR...
Alternatively, you can also empty the can of sweetened condensed milk in a double boiler, stirring every once in a while, for 2 to 4 hours, until it turns to a medium caramel color.
Cool well and refrigerate if not using right away.

#27 RodneyCk

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 05:01 PM

rodneyck - to make your version, is it just exactly like a regular imbc but you bring the temp up higher?  same proportions etc? 

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Exactly, the only differences are bringing the sugar up higher and adding the caramel sauce at the end.

#28 Dailey

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 09:49 AM

on the subject of dulce de leche, does anyone know how long it can be kept at room temperture? i'm assuming all that sugar does a pretty good job at preserving it. :smile:

#29 chefmoni

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 02:17 AM

i'd like to make a caramel buttercream (either italian or swiss) but not sure how to do about.

should i caramelize the sugar syrup in the imbm, cool slightly and procede? would this work?
swiss -- woudl you add caramel sauce at the end?

any tips or recipes would be greatly appreciated!

thanks!
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