Busting out the brittle

Shards of yummy, snackable goodness!

I tossed myself into a minor panic yesterday.  I realized that an entire busy week had flown by, and Baked Sunday Mornings was again upon me… and I was totally unprepared.  Luckily, for me, this week’s recipe – Toasted Pumpkin Seed Brittle from the new Baked Elements – was a relatively easy one to churn out, though I’m always slightly skeptical (as I’m pretty positive most of my fellow BSM bakers are) when it comes to making something vaguely candy-like for the first time.

Perhaps in keeping with the Halloween theme of this weekend, candy-making always conjures up images of bubbling, boiling, cauldron-like heavy-bottomed saucepans roiling with intensely hot sugar substances – and oh yeah, the chances of getting scalded by said substances being turned up a notch for constant klutzes (yes, even in the kitchen) like yours truly.  I’ve developed my craft through many a burnt batch of caramel, and practice truly makes perfect, but it can be a frightening prospect nonetheless.  Thankfully, I found a few moments in my busy schedule yesterday to run to our local co-op (Outpost Natural Foods) and quickly fill a bag up with pepitas in order to come home and bust out this brittle within the space of an hour.  I doubt it took even that long, fortunately… and it’s good to know this treat can be assembled rather quickly.

This particular brittle is a unique recipe in the pumpkin chapter of Baked Elements.  Like the Baked boys, I’m a huge fan of pumpkin – and that’s probably an understatement.  Also like Matt and Renato, I like the whole package – not just the flesh (and I realize as I type that how faintly dirty that sounds!).  This recipe, obviously, focuses on the seeds.  However, these are not the larger, flatter, mature seeds you scoop out of the pumpkin for your Jack-o-Lantern.  You could probably toast those up and use those, but I’ve found that they are still chewier and stick to your teeth, which is not the crunchy texture you want to aim for with this brittle.  You want to look for the smaller, green, raw pumpkin seeds often referred to as pepitas.

I’ve begun a minor love affair with pepitas – not just because they are related to pumpkin, one of my all-time favorite flavor loves – but simply because when toasted and tossed with a few pinches of salt, they are a lovely snack.  They will put you in mind of sunflower seeds, but I find them to be even better.  You can eat them solo, or toss them into a mixed green salad.  Or you can do what another favorite Brooklyn-based bakery of mine, One Girl Cookies, does and sprinkle those nutty, toasted, salted pepitas across the top of a creamy pumpkin pie for your Thanksgiving dessert.  Their recipe is so phenomenal (it even has a slightly crunchy cornmeal crust) that I feel provoked to share it with you – and in doing so, give a shout out to One-Girl Cookies and their fabulousness as well.  Check out their cookbook – One Girl Cookies – and visit their bakery the next time you venture to Baked.  You won’t be disappointed.  And their recipe for Pumpkin Pie with Salted Roasted Pepitas?  It’s below.

Back to Baked’s brittle (and some pretty heavy alliteration in that sentence!). First of all, you want to toast your pepitas.  I would traditionally do this in the oven, but I opted this time for Baked’s quick-toast directions and toasted them in canola oil in a skillet on the stove.  It was a rather sensory-satisfying experience, stirring those little green seeds – watching them gently turn brown, smelling their delicious yumminess, and hearing them sizzle and pop over the heat.  Once the toasting is done, toss the seeds with a little bit of salt and set them aside in a large bowl (I would suggest a large metal bowl if you will be pouring your boiling sugar into the seeds, as I did – versus adding your seeds to the boiled sugar, as the recipe suggests.  I used a smaller saucepan, so I had no excess room to add two cups of seeds!)

While making this recipe, I was reminded of watching Nigella Lawson make a honeycomb treat she called “Hokey Pokey” on one of her shows a few years ago.  The recipe is very similar:  you basically start with 2 cups of sugar dampened with a small amount of water, honey, and corn syrup, and slowly bring this to a boil.  After adding butter, you let this gooey mixture cook and boil for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a nice golden brown color.  I cannot stress enough how you should watch this mixture as you are cooking it.  Don’t walk away!  Keep your eyes on the color and texture.  If you don’t, it can quickly turn to hard-crack candy – and a burnt caramel in the bargain.

The magic happens when you slowly toss in some baking soda.  This is a key ingredient for honeycomb or brittle recipes… and be prepared for the surprising result.  The boiling sugar suddenly foams up like mad – and you want this to happen, as the baking soda almost aerates and ‘lightens’ the candy, making it less dense (or, that’s how I interpret its function; I could be incorrect). Don’t worry about that bitter taste of the baking soda, as it will not affect your final result – as it cooks, it does its job and that flavor dissolves.  Fortunately, too, the Baked boys did something clever with the subsequent addition of warm cinnamon and extra salt to boost up the ‘fall’ flavor or your pumpkin seed brittle.

It was a funny moment in my kitchen as I reached the baking soda addition point.  I found that the saucepan I used was too small, and as the sugar foamed up, I needed to hold it over my bowl of seeds – it rolled over the edges of the pan, into the seeds, and I needed to toss in that cinnamon and salt very quickly!  Panic set in!  Lesson learned:  make sure you measure out your baking soda, cinnamon and salt prior to adding the baking soda, and keep them handy by the stove, as things start to move fast at this point!  I did some frantic stirring, and the seeds and sugar mixture quickly thickened up.  Using several wooden spoons and utensils, I turned the brittle out onto a buttered sheet of parchment on a baking sheet and set to spreading it out.  This was not an easy task.  Not only does the brittle start to harden quickly, I found that it also frequently stuck to the utensils, so I ended up patting it out with my ‘asbestos’ hands (it helps to run your hands under some cool water first).  Be very careful not to burn yourself – the mixture is still hot.  If you cannot pat it out with your hands – and I did this in light, quick touches – make sure to heavily butter the spatula or utensil you smooth the brittle out with.

After the brittle was spread out, there was nothing left to do but let it completely cool for several hours on the parchment – well, except soak and scrub those candied sugar-coated pans and bowls!  Here’s the final fun part:  once your brittle has completely cooled, pick up the entire piece and drop it from on-high right back into the baking sheet to shatter it into jagged pieces.

I found this brittle was extremely tasty… warm and buttery, with a nice touch of cinnamon and honey, and toasty notes from those nutty pumpkin seeds.  Growing up, brittle almost never appealed to me.  The mere mention of brittle conjured up a Toll House Chocolate Chip cookie brittle my mother frequently made, extremely buttery and sprinkled on top with a dense coating of crushed walnuts.  That may sound yummy to most of you – but remember by intense dislike of most nuts, and walnuts especially?  Yuck!  In a similar vein, a neighbor of ours used to make a dense peanut brittle that my father particularly adored.  While it looked like a tempting, butterscotch-ish treat to me as a child – again, it was studded with big chunks of – BLECH! – peanuts!  NO FUN!

Thanks to Matt and Renato, I have found my brittle euphoria in this Toasted Pumpkin Seed Brittle.  It’s a rich treat, indeed, and probably not one I will make too often, but it’s the ultimate in sweet, salty, and toasted.  As they suggest in the book, make this brittle to give away to your friends – stacked and bundled together with a simple piece of twine or thin ribbon.  For those of you with dental work – like me – you don’t need to worry too much when eating this brittle.  I was a little petrified I might chip or crack a veneer, but if you make this brittle correctly and the baking soda has done its job, it has a perfect snappy crunch that isn’t too dense or jawbreaking (regardless, just try and take the necessary precautions to not bite into it with those particular teeth you’ve had dental work on!).

Try this unique treat today by visiting the Baked Sunday Mornings website for the recipe: http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2012/10/21/in-the-oven-toasted-pumpkin-seed-brittle/ and be sure to check out how my BSM friends are doing on their blogs!

And, oh yes, I have not forgotten… the recipe for the ultimate pumpkin pie.  Trust me on this one.  And you’re welcome.

FRESH PUMPKIN PIE WITH SALTY ROASTED PEPITAS

Recipe by Dawn Casale & David Crofton of One Girl Cookies

From their book, One Girl Cookies: Recipes for Cakes, Cupcakes, Whoopie Pies, and Cookies from Brooklyn’s Beloved Bakery

Fresh Pumpkin Pie with Salty Roasted Pepitas (photo courtesy of One Girl Cookies)

Crust

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon table salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 tablespoons ice water

1 large egg yolk

Pepitas

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/4 teaspoon canola oil

Filling

1-1/2 cups half-and-half

2 large eggs

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon table salt

Pinch of ground cloves

1. To make the crust, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse 4 or 5 times, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the ice water and egg yolk. Add the egg mixture to the food processor, and pulse until the crumbs begin to climb the side of the bowl and hold their shape when pressed together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands—and a little muscle—form the dough into a 5-inch-diameter disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour before rolling.

3. Unwrap the dough, and using a rolling pin, roll it out on a lightly floured work surface to form an 11-inch circle. Working quickly and carefully, line a 9-inch pie dish with the dough. With your fingertips, make sure that the edge of the pie is smooth and even. Refrigerate it for 20 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

5. Remove the pie dish from the refrigerator. Line the crust with tin foil, making sure to cover the sides, and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the dish and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the sides are somewhat firm and hold their shape. Remove the foil and bake for 6 minutes, until the bottom of the crust looks dry and the shell is a very pale golden color. Remove the dish from the oven and let the crust cool. Leave the oven on.

6. To make the pepitas, stir together the pumpkin seeds, salt, and oil in a small bowl. Scatter the seeds onto a small baking sheet and toast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the seeds are slightly toasted. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the pepitas cool.

7. To make the filling, mix together the half-and-half and eggs in a medium bowl. Add the pumpkin puree and mix well. Then add the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves, and mix well. The filling will be very runny. Pour the filling into the pie shell. Sprinkle the pepitas on the filling (*see my note below).

8. Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the dish and bake for 20 more minutes, or until the center of the pie jiggles just a bit when you touch the oven rack. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and let the pie cool completely.

*Mark’s note:  I toasted my pepitas, set them aside, and let the pie bake on its own for about 10-15 minutes before sprinkling the top with the pepitas.  I did this to prevent them from over-browning – or, as a reverse scenario – perhaps soaking up too much moisture from the filling and getting soggy.  This is totally a matter of your own preference.

Molasses and nostalgia

When I think of molasses, my mind typically fills with nostalgia and fond memories.  My maternal grandmother made some killer soft, dark molasses cookies that I adored – well, until she pushed a raisin or some kind of nut (usually, a large walnut) into the tops of them, and then I would avoid them like the plague… though I might still be cajoled into picking off the offending garnish so I could still devour the yummy cookie.

I worked as a waiter at a seasonal restaurant back near my hometown in upstate New York for several summers during my college years – a restaurant at which my mother was also previously a waitress, when I was growing up.  We had a fantastic baker there (Mary B.!), who baked cookies and pies in the blazing heat of the back kitchen… and in the afternoon lull between the lunch and dinner rushes, the unmistakable, homey, spicy smell of homemade molasses cookies would come wafting up into the front kitchen and dining room.  I would pour myself a glass of thick whole milk from the old-fashioned milk machine (we called it, affectionately, the “cow”), dash back into the bakers’ kitchen and snag a big, plump, sugar-dusted molasses cookie, fresh from the oven, off the cooling rack when Mary’s back was turned.  No sooner would I skirt around the corner when I would hear Mary’s hearty chuckle, followed by the comment, “Mark!  You are JUST like your mother!”  Apparently, my mom, too, had a childlike passion for Mary’s wonderful cookies as I did!

I truly live for memories like that.  It’s one of the reasons I enjoy baking as much as I do.  Our sense of smell is a powerful memory trigger, and I guess for that reason, I’m thankful for the heady aroma of wonderful, pungent molasses on a fall day like today.

Molasses is truly the shining star of this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, Joe Froggers – or, Ginger Rum Molasses Cookies – from Baked Explorations.  This isn’t too surprising, given that nearly an entire 12-ounce bottle of molasses goes into one batch!  The molasses, a little hot water, and some dark rum (the Baked guys love their booze in their recipes) comprise the ‘wet’ ingredients of the dough; it’s interesting to note that this recipe does not include an egg or two.  Mix the wet ingredients with some some flour fragrant with warm spices like nutmeg, a good amount of ginger, and cloves, and you have some pretty tasty cookies in the making.  (I’ll let you reference Baked Explorations or the internet for the origin of the funny name of these cookies!)

The tricky part, I found, with the Joe Froggers was the dough.  Baked suggests that – after mixing the ingredients together – the dough should enjoy a good rest in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.  I would emphasize that you should refrigerate these overnight at least.  Instead of leaving my dough in the bowl, I turned the whole lot of it out onto plastic wrap and formed it into a thick rectangle, then popped into the fridge overnight for 2 nights – and still, when I removed it to bake it off, it was pretty soft.  Within a few moments of starting to roll it out, it was soft and sticky – rather a menace.  You might want to sprinkle a healthy dose of flour on your board and rolling pin before rolling out your cookies, and break off small chunks of the dough at a time to roll out, keeping the rest in the fridge nice and cold.  I was a little worried at the ugly sight of so much flour literally coating the rounds as I transferred them to the baking sheet, but fortunately, it gets absorbed in the baking.  Most recipes for rolled cookies say to use as little flour on your board as possible, but with these, you really need to go all out.  Make sure you get as many cookies cut out of your initial batch as you go so that you’re not re-rolling the scraps and incorporating too much excess flour in the bargain (your cookies could become tough).

As the recipe states to roll out the cookies relatively thin, and going from the photo in the book, I immediately knew these would be more comparable to a ginger snap than a nice, puffy, soft molasses cookie – which I prefer and adore.  That being said, I was not altogether displeased with the results of the Joe Froggers.  They have a wonderful, strong molasses flavor with a slight aftertaste of rum that isn’t obnoxious.  They present a nice palate for any number of baking experiments (see the following paragraph).  They are thin and crunchy – or what I like to refer to as a “snappy” cookie.  I’m certain they would be wonderful dunked in milk or a cup of coffee.  If you’re like me, who prefers softer and/or chewier cookies typically, you might appreciate the flavor of these Joe Froggers, but it’s probably not a recipe you might make too much.

There’s a whimsical diversity to these cookies.  If you’re not a fan of eating these on their own, freeze them and use them later to crush up as a gingery crumb crust for a cheesecake or tart.  Sandwich a scoop of lime or lemon sorbet or ice cream between them for a delicious ice cream sandwich.  I’ve fallen in love with Trader Joe’s pumpkin ice cream (they truly got the super-spicy, pumpkin pie filling taste RIGHT; it’s not wimpy at all), and as you can see from the picture, I couldn’t resist building an ice cream sandwich with the Joe Froggers and the pumpkin ice cream.  A yummy fall treat!

The Joe Froggers may not capture the exact texture of those cookies my grandmother or Mary B. made way back when, and truthfully, I still prefer a softer, sometimes chewier molasses cookie, but they sure gave me some fond memories to tuck back into.  For the recipe, visit Baked Sunday Mornings: http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2012/10/17/in-the-oven-joe-froggers, and make sure to check out how all of my fellow bakers fared.  Every week, I am inspired by these wonderful people who share my passion for baking – and all things Baked!

Scrumptious scones

To me, the next best thing after a good slice of pie would be a scone.  Perhaps surprisingly, given the amount of sugar I consume as an avid baker, I’m a huge fan of scones because they are not too sweet.  They have just enough sugar in them to keep them faintly dessert-like and interesting, and the combination of baking powder, baking soda, and small chunks of butter in the dough makes for a lofty, delicious treat to pair with your morning coffee.  I count Gale Gand’s Chocolate Cinnamon Scones among my favorite scone recipes to make, and thanks to the Baked boys and Baked Sunday Mornings, I have a new favorite to add to my repertoire: Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Scones, from Baked Elements.

To the amateur baker, a scone should not be daunting.  In fact, they’re incredibly easy to put together.  This particular recipe uses one bowl, and a couple times during the process, Baked advises using a cook’s best tools – one’s hands – to combine the ingredients and bring them gently together.  Simply whisk the dry ingredients together, pour in your wet ingredients, including the peanut butter, and gently incorporate, without over-mixing.  You want your scones to be nice and tender, not tough, so avoid working the dough too much and developing the gluten in the flour.  Pat the scone dough out into an 8-inch disc on a parchment-lined baking sheet and make a preliminary score of the disc into 8 triangles.  Brush with egg white, sprinkle with decorative sugar (I had to use decorating/sanding sugar as I did not have the raw sugar the recipe calls for).  Bake, and cut apart.  Pretty easy.

The taste is quite incredible – truly, as described in Baked Elements, a pleasant cross between a scone and a cookie.  These could easily rival any scone or biscuit you might buy with your coffee at your friendly neighborhood coffee shop… and trust me, the taste of these with coffee is, indeed, out of this world!  Isn’t it funny how some baked goods, washed down with a good gulp of yummy coffee, suddenly have this “eureka” moment of even more awesomeness sometimes?  It’s like everything is suddenly taken to a newer taste plateau in a space of seconds.  Coffee does that – and especially with chocolate desserts.

You want to make sure that your scones are not under baked – which is rather gross – but what I noticed with mine is that they were still nice and moist without being ‘raw’ dough.  This is due largely to the buttermilk in this recipe.  Buttermilk is such an awesome ingredient, in my humble opinion.  It always provides a nice moist crumb to baked goods and imparts a slight tang in flavor.  It balances out nicely with the peanut butter in this recipe, and while Baked’s recipe states that these scones are best enjoyed within a day of baking, I found that because they were not a typical drier scone, they had pretty good staying power for the couple of days they lasted (and trust me, they’re so darn good, they may just disappear within a day anyway).  They heat up wonderfully when popped in a microwave oven for about 15 seconds.  The chocolate chips get all seductively gooey once again and the oatmeal and peanut butter flavors just warm right up… you get the picture.  This recipe is a definite keeper.  Loved them.

One last (personal) note: the recipe appears in the “Peanut Butter” chapter, and while I’m usually fine and good with peanut butter, I’m not a tremendous fan of any kind of nuts, and especially in my baked goods (I make exceptions for almonds and pecans).  Trust me, if I eat anything with nuts in it, you do not want to be around me, as the taste and the texture of nuts triggers my gag reflex in a pretty big way.  It’s not pretty.  Cashews and any kind of waxy nut?  Those are the worst.  Don’t even get me started on that muddy paste called Nutella.  Blech.  I know the Baked guys love it, but I just can’t stomach it (I will have a challenge just tasting the Nutella-based recipes when I have to make them).  Anyhow, that’s just me.  Baked strongly urges the use of a crunchy peanut butter in this recipe, mainly for the texture.  I say, if you’re a peanut fan, by all means, this is probably a very good suggestion.  I opted for a natural, creamy peanut butter.  The scones still tasted like peanut butter, they just didn’t have the extra crunch of the nuts – and that was fine with me.  Still, I would also advise that if you prefer a nice strong peanut butter taste to these scones, you do some taste tests with peanut butter before making them.  I found the peanut butter taste to be a little ‘subtle’ in this recipe and almost wonder if they could have had a more pronounced peanut butter accent using a different brand.  Something to think about, anyway.

I got the suggested yield of 8 scones from this recipe.  Jake ate one of them, and he is much more a master of control than yours truly – who ate the remaining 7 over the course of about 3 days.  I know.  I am terrible.  Trust me though, these are that good.  And super easy.  Make them for your family and friends today.  They will adore you. The recipe: http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2012/10/08/in-the-oven-oatmeal-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-scones/

Burnt once, burnt twice

Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake

Inevitably, with this blog and Baked Sunday Mornings, I will be required to remake Baked recipes I already made with great success.  While I obviously delight in making my favorite Baked recipes all the time, there will come a few times where I will may end up cursing myself for not taking pictures of the finished product the very first, and more successful, time.  This brings us to this week’s endeavor.

Like Matt Lewis, I’m a huge fan of bundt cakes.  They’re simple, they’re yummy, relatively easy to mix together, and a little less fussy than layer cakes at times.  The most difficult thing you may need to worry about with bundts is getting them out of the pan all in one piece, retaining the beautiful design of the pan on your cake in the bargain.  I, myself, confess to many a bundt cake disaster – crumbly chunks of cake falling out of the pan, pieces of crust sticking stubbornly along the sides. It truly makes one want to weep!  However, if you’ve greased and floured your pan well, you shouldn’t have too much trouble.

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of making the recipe for this week’s assignment, Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum Frosting from Baked Explorations, for my family at Christmas.  This divine, deep caramel-flavored cake was quite a hit – and with the snazzy caramel shards sprinkled across the top, it has the potential to be the showpiece of even the most humble get-together or potluck.

First of all, if you’re curious about the name of this recipe – burnt sugar? – wonder no more.  If you have had caramel, you’ve had burnt sugar!  There’s a magical alchemy to making the burnt sugar/caramel in this recipe, and that involves basically taking dry sugar, putting it in a saucepan and then heating it to the point when it turns into a thick, sticky liquid.  Cook it a little longer and it starts to smell slightly burnt and turns brown.  Carefully pour in heavy cream, stir it rapidly as it sputters, and voila!  Delicious caramel – and the delectable base for this cake.  If there is one thing those Baked guys do well, it’s caramel – and I’ve learned from them the best ways to make it – while making this recipe, their Sweet and Salty Cake, Sweet and Salty Brownies…the list goes on.

I would suggest being very, very careful when making caramel and dealing with hot sugar on your first few tries.  When sugar reaches a boiling point, it is incredibly, INCREDIBLY HOT.  Matter of fact, silly me – the first time I made this cake, I lifted the wooden spoon out of the boiling sugar and attempted to dislodge a chunk of it from the spoon.  OUCH!!!  I soon had an extremely painful, large burn/welt on my index finger.  No fun!  So, please, don’t be like me.  Be very careful to avoid hurting yourself, and do everything you can to prevent the boiling sugar from splashing onto your skin.

Now… back to this cake.  Well, you have only my word to take that my first endeavor with this cake was the BEST.  This time around, I wasn’t as fortunate.  I’ll be darned if I can figure out what went wrong.

Hey – what happened to the darker color?

I’m not sure if any of the other BSM bakers had this issue – it could be my crummy apartment oven again – but I had to bake my bundt cake approximately 15 minutes more than the 45 minutes the recipe called for.  At 45 minutes, it was still jiggly in the center.  Also, when I made this cake previously, it turned out a nice, deep golden brown like Baked’s – this time around, it had more of a blonde tint.  My suspicion is that the first time I made it, I followed the recipe more specifically and let the sugar cook to a deep brown caramel color, and this time, I may have let it cook to a lighter shade of deep amber instead.  Hence, a lighter-tinted cake.

My main issue – this time and the first time, if I remember correct – was the caramel rum frosting.  It isn’t so much a frosting as a glaze.  I wish I had a made a note in the book the first time to remind myself not to use all of the remaining burnt sugar liquid, or maybe scale back on the rum by 1 tablespoon (though I love the punch the 2 tablespoons packs). Baked’s photo in the book shows a nice, thick, creamy frosting that is nicely spread and ‘perched’ on top of the bundt, whereas I came up with a glaze that drizzles more down the sides and pools in the center.  Much as I am not a proponent of adding more powdered sugar to make a thicker frosting consistency (it makes the frosting way too sweet), I ended up adding a total of 4 cups powdered sugar, believe it or not (the recipe calls for 2-1/3 cups), to thicken and bring it even remotely close to spreading consistency.  The end result?  Possibly an overly-sweet frosting, but with the kick of the rum balancing it out, it was passable. It kept this nice consistency – until I spread it on the completely cooled cake, whereupon it suddenly got thin again, curdled slightly, and started running steadily down the sides.  Strange!

Pretty, but sharp – be careful! – shards of dark, caramelized, and candied sugar adorn this cake. It’s easy to make them, and will give you extra practice! Try it!

Regardless of how different my burnt sugar bundt cake was this time around, I cannot argue that it was still delicious.  The ever stolid perfectionist in me tried to get past the devastating, sad appearance of the weepy cake to try a slice. The coconut milk ensures a nice, dense, moist crumb and the frosting, though troublesome, is wonderfully boozy with the rum – complimenting the cake well.   While I far preferred the toasty taste and texture of my first venture, this cake was not altogether a complete failure.  It was still edible, though with only a slight taste of caramel/burnt sugar.  Also – be very careful with your caramel candy shards on top – some can be quite sharp.  You may want to carefully pick them off with your fork before taking a big bite of cake.  I would hate to imagine anyone cutting the roof of their mouth on one, or cracking a tooth!

Feeling a little experimental with your bundt cake baking?  I will never discourage you from trying a Baked recipe – give this recipe a try… and if you have terrific luck with it the first time, savor it, enjoy it, and be sure to take a photo!  I hope you will continue to have success with it, unlike me!  If there is a ‘next time’ I attempt this, I think I will scratch the frosting – frosted bundts seem like a little ‘much’ to me anyhow, and this cake can stand on its own pretty well, perhaps dusted with some powdered sugar.

The recipe:  http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2012/10/02/in-the-oven-burnt-sugar-bundt-cake-with-caramel-rum-frosting

The second attempt – runny frosting and all!