Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hazelnut Cake with Sea Salt Caramel



This cake, people. This cake. It’s a hazelnut cake that would be delicious on its own, but it’s served with the greatest caramel sauce you could ever want. I used lactose-free cream, obviously, but I think in this case coconut milk would work well, too. You’ll have more caramel than you need, and leftovers are superb on ice cream or stone fruit. Or straight from the jar.

For the hazelnuts: it just so happened that I had a bag of Bob’s Red Mill hazelnut meal/flour on hand, so I looked up online how much I should be using (to substitute by weight for the whole hazelnuts), and I used 75 g. The recipe worked perfectly for me and I got to skip a whole, noisy step. You could probably get similar results with almonds.

For the cake
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (I used margarine)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup blanched hazelnuts (or 75 g., see note above)
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. raw or granulated sugar

For the sauce and assembly
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
¾ cup lactose-free cream (see note above)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine
½ Tbsp. flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

For the cake
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease an 8”-diameter cake pan. Line with a parchment round; grease parchment. Dust pan with flour.

Pulse hazelnuts and 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground; set aside 2 Tbsp. nut mixture.

Whisk baking powder, salt, 1 cup flour, and remaining nut mixture in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat ½ cup butter and remaining granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Reduce speed to low and mix in dry ingredients. Scrape batter into prepared pan, and sprinkle with reserved nut mixture and raw sugar.

Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center of cake comes out clean, 40–45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool in pan before turning out.

For the sauce and assembly
Bring granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture turns a deep amber color, 8–10 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in butter and salt. Let cool slightly before serving with cake. (Caramel sauce can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tricots de l'été

Bon, je sais bien que l’été n’est pas fini, mais n’empêche, mes vacances le sont. J’ai mis de côté des projets de tricot que j’avais en tête pour plutôt me concentrer sur des chandails pour les bébés de mes amis (encore; il doit y avoir quelque chose dans l’eau, il faut croire!). J’ai commencé par faire un petit kimono rose, inspiré par la première image de cette page (malgré que c’est très semblable à celui-ci; je pense d’ailleurs que c’est le même patron, mais un peu moins cher chez ce deuxième marchand). Puisque j’aimais l’idée de tricoter avec une couleur moirée, et puisque c’était pour une petite fille née à la fin de juin, j’ai choisi du Cascade Sunseeker Multis en couleur Peachy. Il s’agit d’un mélange de coton et d’acrylique, avec un peu de fil métallique qui donne du brillant, et c’est lavable à la machine! Pour le ruban, c’était mon reste de ruban rose à pois blanc de ce projet. Remarquez que j’en avais nettement moins que ce qu’il « fallait » selon le patron, mais j’en avais bien assez dans les faits.

J’ai ajouté un chapeau à l’ensemble avec le Stella Pixie Hat, que j’aime beaucoup tricoter. J’ai pris un bouton de ma collection; il vient à l’origine d’un lot de boutons roses en vrac sur Etsy.


Ensuite, j’ai travaillé sur le patron Camilla Babe (qui, soit dit en passant, est aussi disponible en tailles enfant et adulte). C’était pour les jumelles d’une amie, elles aussi nées fin juin. J’ai vraiment adoré tricoter le motif à l’avant! C’était un peu pénible de faire les manches, mais on les joint sans couture ensuite, et ça aussi, j’aime ça! Je les trouve par contre un peu longues, alors je recommanderais de les faire plus courtes que sur le patron… J’ai choisi de la laine Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino de couleur Duck et Fuchsia. C’est un mélange de laine mérinos, de microfibre et de cachemire. Et apparemment que ça aussi, ça peut se laver à la machine! En tout cas, c’était doux à souhait. Il me restait une balle de laine dans chaque cas (sur quatre), alors j’ai aussi fait des Stella Pixie Hats pour les petites, avec des boutons de ma collection.


Puis j’ai fait un petit chandail pour des amis qui auront leur premier bébé en novembre. Il me restait de la laine rouge (du premier chandail de ce billet), alors j’ai jeté mon dévolu sur le patron Jeudi, qui se tricote d’un seul morceau. Je ne m’étais pas rendu compte que le dos était ouvert, mais j’imagine que c’est plus pratique pour un nouveau-né (malgré que l’ouverture dans le dos, c’est peut-être plus sécuritaire côté boutons, mais ça ne me semble pas vraiment plus pratique!). J’ai pris des boutons qui sont dans ma collection depuis 2014; ils viennent aussi d’Etsy à l’origine.


Enfin, j’ai tricoté un petit chandail bleu pour ma nièce. Il s’agit du patron Petite Facile. Pour la laine, j’ai utilisé de la laine mérinos de style Calypso chez Luna Grey Fiber Arts, couleur Marquesas. Il m’en a fallu deux balles pour faire la taille 2T; pour la taille 4T, il faudrait une troisième balle. Le bouton est également de chez Etsy. Alors, ça s’appelle Petite Facile, et c’est vrai que ce n’est pas compliqué. Cependant, j’ai détricoté et recommencé les manches deux fois, et il y a toujours une petite démarcation que je n’aime pas trop à cause des rangs courts… Mais en gros, c’est un bon patron, je pense que ça lui fera un bon chandail pour l’hiver.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Almond Tart with Stone Fruit and Lime Meringue



This Bon Appétit recipe is perfect for late summer. I’m using the same title they did, though I disagree with the terminology: a meringue is baked, whereas these egg whites are not. You could replace it with an aquafaba meringue, or omit the garnish entirely if raw eggs are a concern. You could also replace the topping with sliced almonds and nothing else. I served this with cherries, though peaches and plums would have been good, too. Stone fruit is obviously a great choice because of the almonds, but I see no reason why something like raspberries wouldn’t work. This was a really great dessert, though! I’ll definitely make it again.

For the crust
1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 pinch of kosher salt
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, beaten to blend

For the filling
1 cup lactose-free milk
⅓ cup lactose-free cream
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 pinch of kosher salt
1 cup sliced almonds
¾ cup powdered sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine, melted, slightly cooled
3 large egg whites
¼ cup chopped white chocolate

For the almonds and assembly
¾ cup skin-on almonds, chopped
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine, melted, slightly cooled
1 Tbsp. plus ¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
½ tsp. finely grated lime zest, plus more for serving
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 lb. mixed stone fruit (such as peaches, plums, and cherries), pitted and sliced

For the crust
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; save pod for another use. Add butter and toss to coat. Work in butter with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces of butter remaining. (I did the whole thing in a food processor.)

Using a fork, gently mix in egg, then turn out onto a clean surface and gently knead just until dough comes together (do not overwork). Press dough into bottom and up sides of a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (I used a sprinform pan) with your fingers, then flatten with the bottom of a large measuring cup. Cover and chill until very firm, at least 1 hour. 


Line dough with parchment or foil, leaving an overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake crust until edges are dry, 20–25 minutes. Remove parchment and weights and bake crust again until dry but not quite browned, 10–15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.(The crust can be made a day ahead and kept tightly wrapped at room temperature.)

For the filling
Combine milk and cream in a medium saucepan, then scrape in vanilla seeds; add pod. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat; discard vanilla pod.

Whisk egg yolks, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl until very pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture. Transfer back to saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick and holds whisk marks, about 2 minutes.


Press pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto surface; chill until cold, at least 2 hours. 


Pulse almonds in a food processor until very finely chopped. Add powdered sugar and butter and process until smooth. Add egg whites; process just to combine. Fold into chilled pastry cream, then fold in white chocolate. (The filling can be made 2 days ahead; cover and chill.) 


For the almonds and assembly
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Combine almonds, butter, and 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar in a small bowl. Scrape filling into cooled crust and top with almonds. Bake tart until filling is puffed and set and edges are golden brown, 45–50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool. (Tart can be baked up to 2 days ahead; store tightly wrapped at room temperature.)

Just before serving, make the meringue. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat egg whites until frothy, about 1 minute. With motor running, gradually add remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar; beat until stiff peaks form, 5–7 minutes. Mix in ½ tsp. lime zest and lime juice. 


Serve tart topped with lime meringue, fruit, and more lime zest.

Friday, August 12, 2016

S'more Pie

I made a S’more pie, with cream and chocolate, because I couldn’t help myself. I used a typical graham cracker crust, but I did see another recipe (for a chocolate truffle tart) that called for using Petit-Lu-type cookies in the crust instead, and that looked really decadent! Of course, ir’s no longer s’more without the graham, but hey, who am I to judge? This pie was really good, though I would warn you to use quality chocolate for this. I used Baker’s dark chocolate, and it wasn’t sweet enough or good enough for my taste. I wouldn’t go past semi-sweet next time.

For the crust
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12 crackers)
6 Tbsp. margarine, melted and cooled
2 Tbsp. sugar

For the filling
1 cup lactose-free cream
8 oz. quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Combine crumbs, margarine and sugar in a bowl. Mix well and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Press evenly over bottom and sides. Bake until firm, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Bring cream to a boil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Place chocolate in a bowl; pour cream on top. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Pour into crust; bake until set, about 25 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Just before serving, preheat broiler to high. Set an oven rack 5 inches from heat source. Spread marshmallows over top of pie. Broil until toasted, watching carefully to prevent scorching, 20 to 30 seconds.

Zucchini-Chickpea Fritters with Red Onion Jam

I always seem to have trouble figuring out what meatless meal I’m going to make next. I think I have fewer to choose from in my bookmarked recipes, or sometimes they call for something seasonal and it just doesn’t work out for that week. I did try Sir Ian McKellen’s scrambled eggs; I was intrigued by his method, which is very different from mine. In the end, while I liked his eggs, I think I prefer mine. I also made a ranch quick bread, for which I had really high hopes because it seemed delicious (and I had decorated it with chive blossoms, so it looked great, too). Sadly, I found it bland; slices were better the next day, toasted and buttered. I served it with my mother’s potato and leek soup, with lactose-free cream (her recipe is adapted from Anne Lindsay, though I’ve previously posted a vegan one by David Lebovitz which, it should be said, would look silky-smooth if I were to make it with my immersion blender now).

The dish that I really liked, though, was these zucchini-chickpea fritters with red onion jam. I had a little trouble with the consistency of the fritters, as they fell apart easily, so I recommend adjusting that with extra egg and/or flour, to your liking. I also had a bit of trouble setting the heat on the stovetop – it was electric, and the first batch (pictured) came out a nice golden shade, but subsequent batches were darker even though I kept turning down the heat. This reminded me why so many people think they are inept at cooking – it’s not you, it’s just that you’re not cooking with gas! In any event, what I liked most about this dish was the red onion jam, which was both sweet and acidic, and I ended up wanting to eat it with everything. I served the dish with a non-vegetarian side, though: these roasted root vegetables with bacon and maple syrup.

For the red onion jam
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
kosher salt
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

For the fritters
1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cups shredded zucchini
½ cup chickpea flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
vegetable oil, for frying

For the red onion jam
In a nonstick pan or heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sprinkle with salt. Stir and cook until tender and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the water and cook until the onion is very soft and the water has cooked off, about 10 minutes more. Add the vinegar and sprinkle the onions with the sugar. Stir well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, until the vinegar has cooked off completely. Season with salt and set aside.

For the fritters
Preheat the oven to 375 °F.

Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment until they form a thick paste. Transfer to a large bowl and add the onion and zucchini. Use clean hands to mix well, then form the mixture into 10 cakes; set aside.

Combine the chickpea flour and the salt on a large plate. Gently dredge each cake in the flour, patting it onto all sides of the cake.

Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a large frying pan or skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 3 or 4 cakes at a time and cook until golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer the cakes to a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with cooking the remaining cakes, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

When all the cakes are cooked, bake until hot and a deeper golden color, 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve hot with the red onion marmalade.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Rhubarb Compote

Since I got to Montreal in June, I had time to try several rhubarb recipes this year (for some reason, rhubarb was unavailable in San Antonio this spring). I tried it in savory applications, like a sauce served with roasted pork and in a chicken salad, where it was finely sliced alongside celery (both of those recipes are from the July 2015 issue of Coup de Pouce, but I can’t find them on their website). I also made rhubarb soda; my recipe for rhubarb syrup was a hybrid of this regular one and that vanilla one; it was great, but I have no pictures. Of the two remaining recipes that I thought of posting, one was a rhubarb upside-down cake. It was certainly the most photogenic of the two, but even then, I would have needed to be a food stylist with access to a few pounds of reddish-pink rhubarb to make it as nice as in the original photo – I did what I could with my limited green and red pieces. It was good cake, though!


The recipe I will post is not photogenic, but I don’t care, because it was by far the best rhubarb recipe I made this year. It’s Dana Cree’s rhubarb compote, which I found on Orangette last year. I hope you won’t mind too much that I’m sharing it after rhubarb season, since you could actually make it with frozen rhubarb. I had it with yogurt and it was fantastic; it would also be good with lactose-free ice cream, or pavlova, or maybe even on crêpes or the like.

1 lb. (455 g.) rhubarb stalks, trimmed and sliced into ¾-inch chunks
½ to ¾ cup (100 to 150 g.) sugar (I used 2/3 cup)
2 Tbsp. (28 g.) unsalted butter (or vegan margarine)
2 Tbsp. orange liqueur, such as Cointreau, Grand Marnier, and the like (I used Triple Sec)

In a medium bowl, toss the rhubarb with the sugar. Set it aside while you melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the rhubarb, the sugar, and the orange liqueur. Allow to cook, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes, until the rhubarb begins to release its juices. Then gently stir, and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is very juicy and those juices begin to thicken. The compote is ready when the rhubarb is tender and beginning to fall apart and the juices look thick, about 10 to 15 minutes. (This is a cook-it-until-it-looks-right-to-you situation: trust your judgement.)

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and serve cold, cool, or warm.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Strawberry Shortcakes

It’s a little amazing how few posts I wrote over the summer. As best as I can figure out, being in a different environment made me fall into a different routine, and since I didn’t have a comfortable place at which to sit with my computer, I rarely blogged. I did make some good recipes, though! This recipe from Bon Appétit was possibly the best strawberry shortcake recipe I’ve ever had. This one calls for cream, but you could use a vegan substitute. There are still some late-season strawberries available, I believe, so you don’t have to shelve this one until next year!

The batter called for the addition of hard-boiled egg yolks. I’ve made a recipe like that before, where they were passed through a sieve, but I rarely come across this ingredient. Cooked egg yolks, as it turns out, help prevent the formation of too much gluten, yet don’t weigh down the batter. These shortcakes are like a cross between sweet sponge cakes and flakier biscuits; I thought they were perfect. Also, the combination of cooked and fresh strawberries here was genius! It really makes the dish.

For the shortcakes
2 hard-boiled egg yolks, cooled
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. semolina flour or fine-grind cornmeal
1 Tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
6 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter (or margarine), cut into pieces
⅔ cup plus 2 Tbsp. lactose-free cream
sanding or granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

For the assembly
1½ lbs. strawberries (about 1 quart), hulled, halved, quartered if large; divided
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
kosher salt
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, divided
1 cup lactose-free cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise

For the shortcakes
Pulse egg yolks, both flours, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until only pea-size pieces remain. Drizzle in ⅔ cup cream, then pulse 2–3 times to barely incorporate. Transfer dough to a work surface and gently fold on top of itself several times just to bring it together and work in any dry spots.

Using a 2-oz. ice cream scoop, make 6 balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet; do not flatten. (Or measure out mounded scoops with a ¼-cup measuring cup. Using an ice cream scoop to shape the dough makes for a compact, mounded dome, allowing the cakes to open upward as they bake instead of flattening out.) Cover and chill until cold, 20–25 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350 °F. Brush tops of shortcakes with remaining 2 Tbsp. cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake until golden and sides are firm to the touch, 28–32 minutes (I’d bake them a bit less next time; mine were too golden for me.). Let cool. The shortcakes will keep for a day in an airtight container, but are best served warm.).

For the assembly
Toss strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl to combine. Transfer half of strawberries to a large saucepan and add 1 Tbsp. water; let remaining strawberries macerate while you bring strawberries in saucepan to a gentle simmer over medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if needed to keep at a low simmer, until strawberries are starting to break down and become jammy and liquid is syrupy, 12–18 minutes. Let cool, then stir in 1 tsp. lemon juice. Stir remaining 1 tsp. lemon juice into macerated strawberries.

Combine cream, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use. Beat cream until soft peaks form.


Split shortcakes and divide strawberry compote, macerated strawberries, and whipped cream among bottoms. Close with shortcake tops.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Maya Angelou's Caramel Cake

I’ll start this with an a parte about the last layer cake I made, in April. It was a coconut layer cake in Bon Appétit. The cake was absolutely beautiful in the magazine (of course!), but reality turned out very differently. Here’s the running commentary in my notes: “My cakes didn’t rise much at all, so next time, I would switch pans from upper to lower rack halfway through baking (as it was, I moved the lowest cakes to the top rack for an extra 5 minutes). I won’t split them, obviously. [At this point, I tried to unmold them.] Oh, for God’s sake, line the pans with paper next time! GAH! [I don’t believe I’ve ever had cakes come out of the pan in this many pieces.] I’m not soaking the layers in alcohol, nor am I adding alcohol to the frosting because it would be too liquid. Never mind, the frosting is an absolute disaster anyway. This whole cake is a disgrace.” Really, I thought I’d get better results with a recipe from Bon Appétit, but I was wrong. Thankfully, it takes more than one dud of a recipe to discourage me from layer cakes!

I finally, finally got the opportunity to make Maya Angelou’s caramel cake, from Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes (there’s a great story to go with this cake, obviously, but I can’t reprint it here without violating copyrights). The recipe was also published on Oprah.com. It calls for cream, so I waited to get lactose-free cream in Quebec. However, as it turned out, that didn’t really matter because the main flavor profile in the frosting is browned butter – not lactose-free. (Vegan browned butter is iffy at best, though I hear it might be possible to make by adding soy milk powder to melted vegan margarine. I haven’t had a chance to try it.) That being said, the Lactaid was totally worth it for this! I could eat the frosting by the spoonful (and I sort of did).


Note that I recommend doubling the amount of frosting below, because otherwise you have about enough for the middle and top of the cake, but not the sides (unless you’re going for the naked cake look). Moreover, I found the caramel to be odd. Normally, I make caramel by mixing sugar and water, then not stirring until it’s amber in color, then I stir and add cream or butter or salt or whatever else. This recipe called for stirring just sugar over heat until it melts, then adding water. I thought it was odd, but who am I to criticize Maya Angelou’s grandmother’s recipe, right? So I made it the way I was instructed. That being said, next time I would make it the way I’m more used to, because it tastes better to me and the consistency is more viscous than watery, which is part of what makes a good caramel, in my opinion. Plus, since the recipe for caramel syrup makes a lot more than you need for the cake, you’ll appreciate having leftovers that taste extra good! We shared the cake with friends of ours, so there wasn’t too much lactose to deal with for me. :)

And on another side note (I promise I’ll get to the recipe soon, and it’s worth the wait): remember how surprised I was that Bergeron had the balls to write 100% soy on their margarine when it was actually something like 95% soy and there was lactose-full whey in the remainder? Well, S!gnal margarine takes the cake (no pun intended). Look at this label: the front clearly say 100% soybean oil, but on the list of ingredients, suddenly it’s down to 80%, and there’s whey in that too! We need better labelling laws! I did find Earth Balance sticks later, at Avril (a store that I love, possibly the closest thing to a Whole Foods I’ve seen anywhere), where it was on sale at $4.99 a package – more in line with the American prices, and certainly more affordable than the $8.49 IGA charges!


For the cake
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1/4 cup caramel syrup (recipe follows)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup lactose-free milk
2 large eggs
caramel frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line two 8-inch layer cake pans with greased wax paper.

In large mixing bowl, beat butter and add 1 cup sugar gradually until light and fluffy. Beat in syrup.

In medium mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture, alternating with milk.

In separate medium mixing bowl, beat eggs about 3 minutes, until foamy. Add remaining sugar, and beat until there is a fine spongy foam. Stir into cake batter until blended. Divide batter between cake pans. Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove pans from oven. Gently press center of cake with forefinger. Cake should spring back when finger is removed. If it doesn't, return to oven for 10 minutes (5 minutes did the trick for me). Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and remove wax paper. Let cakes cool to room temperature before frosting.

To assemble: Center one cooled cake layer on cake plate. Cover top and sides with generous helping of frosting. Place second layer evenly on frosted layer. Repeat frosting procedure. Make certain that sides are completely frosted. Cool in refrigerator until ready to serve.

For the caramel syrup (see note above)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup boiling water

Heat sugar in heavy skillet over low heat. Stir constantly until melted to a brown liquid. When it bubbles over entire surface, remove from heat. Slowly add boiling water, stirring constantly. Pour into container and cool.

For the caramel frosting (I had to double this recipe)
6 Tbsp. (¾ stick) butter
one 8-oz. package confectioner's sugar
4 Tbsp. lactose-free (or heavy) cream
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Brown butter in heavy pot over medium heat—be vigilant or it will burn. Allow butter to cool. In large mixing bowl, add confectioner's sugar, cream, vanilla extract and salt to butter, and beat until smooth. If frosting is too stiff, add a tablespoon of half-and-half or full cream to thin.