Making Caramel Icing

I had a great time making this icing today. On the one hand there was the caramel, which I get all worked up about. Something about turning simple, one-dimensional ingredients like water, sugar and milk into a deep, dark, aromatic brew…it excites me. On the other there was the browning which the geek in me loved, created as it is by both caramelization and Maillard reactions. Put it all together and my little brain was lighting up like a Christmas tree.


Caramel Cake Icing

This recipe is from Nathalie Dupree’s Southern Memories. The reason I like it is that it combines actual caramel with the highly unusual boiled-milk-and-soda technique that you find in the really old versions of the cake. This makes enough for a 3-layer cake. Cut it down if you aspire to a less grandiose confection. You’ll need:

2 lbs. 10 ounces (6 cups) sugar
2.5 ounces (1/3cup) water
3 ounces (1/4 cup) light corn syrup
18 ounces (2 1/4 cups) milk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream for thinning (if needed)