caramel

butter pecan layer cake

I can’t even believe it friends.

Brooklyn Homemaker turns three years old this weekend!

butter pecan layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

They grow up so fast!
Sniff.

butter pecan layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

This year has been sort of crazy with the whole Maxwell’s thing and all the time I’ve had to spend away from Brooklyn Homemaker, and I’m so thrilled to finally be getting back into the swing of things just in time to celebrate my anniversary!

butter pecan layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I probably said this last year too, but I never would have believed you if you’d told me three years ago that I would have started doing this and kept with it for three whole years.
When I first started I didn’t even have a real camera, and for the first few months I shot all of my photos on my iPhone in my dimly lit kitchen at weird, unflattering angles. If you’d told me three years ago that I would not only get a real camera, but also get pretty good at figuring out how to use it, I definitely would have had my doubts.
If you’d have told me that some of my photos would be even half as good as the ones I spent hours drooling over on Pinterest, or that people would actually want to pin my photos and recipes for themselves, I probably would have laughed in your face!
If you’d have told me that people would actually want to cook my recipes, and would enjoy them enough to share with their friends and families, I’d have been absolutely floored!
Naaahhhhhh! No friggin’ way!!!

I still wake up sometimes and want to pinch myself.

butter pecan layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

It seems like I start having these thoughts around the same time every year, as my blog anniversary approaches, about all the things I’ve accomplished and how far I’ve come. The friendships and bonds I’ve built, the skills I’ve gained, and how my goals and priorities have changed over these past few years.

butter pecan layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

This is definitely a time to for reflection, a time for appreciation, and a time to be grateful. Perhaps most importantly though, it’s a time for cake!

butter pecan layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

The idea of this cake was a bit of a throw back to the very first cake that inspired this whole blogging adventure, the Aunt Sassy Cake from Baked.

I knew I wanted to make another big ass fancy celebration cake filled with nuts and covered in a velvety icing, but I didn’t want to just make the same cake all over again.
I did that already! haha!

I thought that a play on the Aunt Sassy Cake with a fun, autumnal twist would be a great way to pay homage to the cake that started it all, while also making it feel little more seasonally appropriate this time of year.

butter pecan layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I played with a few ideas in my head, but the inspiration really came when I was flipping through the channels one day and happened to catch a few minutes of Jeopardy.

When my sister and I were little, we used to spend a lot of time at our grandmother’s house. If we’d stay after dinner, we’d sit next to grandma on the couch and watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, and if we were good, grandma would fix us a bowl of ice cream.

Thing is, at the time I hated the ice cream flavors she tended to keep in the house. All I wanted was chocolate, or maybe mint chocolate chip, but grandma usually only had maple walnut or butter pecan. Garbage ice creams in the eyes of a child, and ones that i lovingly referred to as old lady flavors in my teen years.
As I got a little older I finally learned to appreciate those “old lady” flavors, and eventually I even learned to love them.
These days I can’t get enough of them, and even get into trouble with Russell when I come home from the store with a pint of butter pecan, when he’d have preferred chocolate, or maybe mint chocolate chip!

butter pecan layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

With butter pecan in mind, I decided to go for a tender pecan layer cake, and I opted to brown the butter to amp up the nutty flavor. Browning butter only takes about 10 minutes with some stirring and a watchful eye, and it adds an incredibly rich, earthy, nutty flavor to regular everyday unsalted butter. It has such an amazing flavor that I decided to brown a little extra to mix into some silky Swiss Meringue Buttercream I wanted to use to ice the cake.

To make things even richer, and fancier, and prettier, I went ahead and drizzled the whole kit and kaboodle in some heavenly homemade caramel with a splash of (optional) bourbon.

This cake is the freakin bomb. Perfect for fall. It could even work as an elegant alternative to pecan pie at Thanksgiving!

butter pecan layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

It’s been a wild ride so far, and hopefully this is just the beginning.

I’m so honored and grateful for all of you guys out there. I’m so so luck to have so many amazing friends out there in the world who have been so encouraging and engaging through everything that I’ve done so far. I’m looking forward to many more recipes and posts and years ahead, and I hope you’ll all be along for the ride too!

Love you guys! Thanks for everything!

butter pecan layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Butter Pecan Layer Cake with Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Brown Butter
(Make ahead if possible)

4 sticks of unsalted butter

Melt butter in a large stainless steel (or light colored) sauce pan over low to medium heat. As the water cooks out, the butter will sizzle a lot. Stir frequently with a silicone spatula.

Once the butter starts to foam, usually about 5 minutes in, you want to watch it very carefully so it doesn’t burn. You’ll also want to use your spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan often. This will promote even browning and help prevent the milk solids from sticking to the pan as they brown. They’re delicious so you want them in your finished butter, and if they do stick they’ll be a pain in the butt to clean.

The foam may make it hard to see, but as you stir you’ll begin to see the milk solids in the butter begin to turn brown. Once the milk solids are brown and the butter smells toasty and nutty, you’re done! Immediately pour the butter, milk solids & all, into a heatproof dish to prevent it from further cooking. The milk solids can go from nutty and golden to black and burnt in less than a minute!

For the recipes below, you want the butter to be soft, but you don’t want to use the butter while it’s still hot and melted. Refrigerate the butter until solid, then let it soften at room temperature. If you want to make it ahead, it’ll keep for a long time if stored in an airtight container.
Butter contains a good amount of water which cooks off when you brown it, so after browning your 4 sticks of butter won’t measure 2 cups. Since the cake and the icing require the same amount of butter, I just say 1/2 the brown butter in each recipe for simplicities sake.


Brown Butter Pecan Cake
Adapted from Cooking Classy

3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup whole pecan pieces for decorating (optional)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 of the brown butter (will be a bit shy of 1 cup), softened
1/4 cup peanut oil (or canola or vegetable oil)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks (reserve whites for icing)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add pecans, toss to coat, and cook until slightly browned and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl or dish to stop cooking and set aside to cool. If using whole pieces for decorating, separate them from the chopped pecans and reserve for later.

Butter 3 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper, butter parchment paper and then lightly dust pans with flour shaking out excess. Set pans aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butters and sugars together until very pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, adding in vanilla with the last egg.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed just until combined, then add in 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix just until combined. Repeat alternating flour and buttermilk, ending with the final 1/3 of the flour. Remove the bowl from your mixer and fold in pecans until they’re evenly distributed. Divide batter evenly among the 3 prepared baking pans, using a kitchen scale for accuracy if desired.
Bake in preheated oven 25 – 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool for 10 to 15 minutes on a wire rack, then run a knife around edges of the pans to ensure the cakes are loosened, and invert them onto the racks to cool completely.


Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Minimalist Baker

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup unsalted butter (4 tablespoons, or 1/2 stick)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp bourbon (optional)
pinch of salt

Place sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium heat, gently swirling the pan (not stirring) to combine. Simmer (not stirring) for about 15 minutes or until a rich amber color is reached. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slightly toasty aroma. Once the sugar starts to go from clear to golden, watch it very closely as it can go from perfect to burnt in under a minute. If you want to use a thermometer, cook until the sugar reaches 350 degrees.
Remove the pan from heat and slowly stir or whisk in the butter. It will bubble up a lot so be careful. Once the butter is combined, repeat the process with the cream. Then add the bourbon and salt stir or whisk to combine.
Place the pan back over the heat and simmer for another minute or two while stirring continuously.
Remove from heat and let it cool for about 15 minutes before pouring into a heat-safe dish or jar to cool to the touch. Then close or cover the container and transfer it to the refrigerator to cool completely before use. Any leftover caramel (I didn’t have much) can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for several weeks.


Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Martha Stewart 

6 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
remaining 1/2 of the brown butter (will be a bit shy of 1 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and a small amount lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of fat or grease. Make a double boiler by placing the mixer bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Place egg whites, sugars, and salt into the bowl and whisk gently but continuously until the sugar is completely dissolved and the egg whites reach between 150 and 160 degrees F.
Attach the bowl to your mixer and use the whisk attachment to whip the egg whites on high speed until thick, glossy peaks form and the bowl no longer feels warm to the touch, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment and reduce speed to medium-low. Add butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition. The meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added, don’t worry. Once all the butter is added, beat until the icing is smooth and silky, usually about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the vanilla and beat on low just until combined.

If the buttercream curdles, don’t worry! Just keep mixing and it will come back to smooth.
If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate the bowl for about 15 or 20 minutes before mixing again with the paddle attachment until it comes together.


Assemble cake:

Remove parchment from each layer, and trim the domed tops off with a cake leveler or sharp bread knife if necessary. Flat layers will definitely result in a much prettier & more professional looking finished cake. My cakes didn’t dome much, so you may not need to do this step. Make sure the layers are completely cool (or cold) before you proceed.

If you’re not serving the cake the same day it’s baked, I recommend you brush each layer of cake with two or three tablespoons of simple syrup before assembly to keep it nice and moist for days. Just heat 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water together until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Place first layer on a cake stand, serving platter, or cardboard cake round. Top with roughly 1/4 of your icing (about one generous cup), and spread the icing out with an offset icing spatula, in as even and level a layer as possible. Place the next layer on top and check from above and from multiple angles to make sure it’s stacked perfectly centered with the layer below, and that it’s flat and level. Adjust if necessary.
Add another 1/4 of the icing, smooth it out, add the top layer, and check and adjust if necessary.

Using another 1/4 of your icing, spread a thin layer of icing over top and sides of cake with an icing spatula. I like to start at the top and slowly work my way down the sides. Be sure to fill in any gaps between layers and make the sides and top is as smooth and flat as possible. This thin layer of icing is referred to as the “crumb coat” and is meant to seal in any crumbs so they’re not seen in your final layer of icing. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to an hour to set the icing before you proceed.
Spread the remaining icing evenly over top and sides of cake, trying to get as smooth a surface as possible.

Top the cake with about 3/4 to 1 cup of the cooled caramel sauce, carefully and evenly drizzling some down the sides.
If desired, top the finished cake with the optional 1/3 cup of toasted whole pecans from above.

This cake is best the day it’s baked, but will keep well in a cake saver at room temperature for up to 2 days, if the weather is not too hot or humid. Otherwise, wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If refrigerated, you’ll need to let it come up to room temperature for at least an hour before serving.

chocolate caramel frito tart

If you follow me on instagram (you totally should), you probably know that Russell and I just went to Berlin for a week.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

While I’ve always wanted to go to Germany, it wasn’t really on our radar for this year. At least, it wasn’t until Russell just happened to find an amazing deal on a flight and hotel package that we couldn’t pass up. After like 2 minutes of discussion we decided that there’s no time like the present and we needed to just go for it.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

Berlin is an amazing city and Russell and I truly fell in love. If it weren’t for two little baby dogs waiting for us at home, we might never have come back.
I could go on and on about what a beautiful, historic, storybook city Berlin is, and how the city somehow feels surprisingly diverse, modern, and progressive at the same time. I could also go on about how there is so much to do and so much to see and so much to EAT that we just can’t wait to go back. Every day of our trip was a new adventure, and so was every meal that we ate!

While I was thrilled about the idea of eating some authentic German cuisine, I was surprised to discover that “German” restaurants in Berlin were few and far between. You couldn’t take five steps without bumping into a Vietnamese or Turkish restaurant though, or a Neapolitan pizzeria or multi-cultural nouveau-hipster café. The only popular cuisine we had that was actually unique to Berlin was essentially fast food.
It’s called Currywurst, and it’s basically a grilled bratwurst that’s cut into slices, smothered in a curry ketchup, and served with french fries on a paper tray. Currywurst joints were EVERYWHERE!

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

Another thing I noticed about food in Berlin is that corn somehow seems to be experiencing a period of trendiness in Germany. Maybe not kale trendy, but trendy nonetheless.

When I was in High School and taking French classes it was explained to me that Europeans rarely if ever ate corn, considering it cattle feed, unfit for human consumption. Growing up surrounded by the sweet corn fields of upstate New York, I remember being insulted and injured by such snobbery, and the idea (and pain) that Europeans don’t eat corn has stuck with me ever since.

You can imagine my surprise then, when I saw dozens of people happily munching on ears of sweet corn on a stick on one of our first days there. We’d stopped by a popular flea market to hunt for vintage treasures or cool photography props for the blog. The market stands tended to be more mass market and tourist driven than we’d hoped for and we left empty-handed, but there was an entire aisle of food stands serving french fries and kebabs and currywurst. Right at the end of the row there was an entire stand devoted strictly to corn on the cob. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

Speaking of corn (bear with me, we’ll get there), Russell and I made a new friend on the plane to Germany. He was sitting in front of us and at one point leaned back to ask if we could see his phone. He’d gotten up to go to the bathroom and when he got back his phone was nowhere to be found. At first he thought he’d dropped it behind his seat at our feet, but in the end it turned out that he’d somehow kicked it across the aisle when he got up. I went back to watching The Bridges of Madison County and thought that was the end of it.

While we were in line waiting to have our passports checked, he was standing right behind us and we got to talking. It turned out that he’d booked the trip with his boyfriend, but he had to cancel at the last minute and our new friend was traveling alone. We decided to exchange emails and asked if he wanted to meet for a drink one night. He had a better idea though.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

He suggested that we go have milkshakes together at the Ritter Sport store.

If you’re not familiar with Ritter Sport, it’s a square German chocolate bar that comes in colorful wrappers with a wide selection of (amazing) flavors and fillings. They’re available here in the U.S. (I’m kind of addicted) but the idea of visiting an entire store devoted only to Ritter Sport chocolate bars instantly caught my attention.
When our new friend also mentioned that they make custom made chocolate bars with your choice of mix ins, we were sold! The opportunity also happened to tailer made for us since my mother’s only request while we were in Germany was that we find and bring home some great chocolate for her.

While we were there we decided to do a little shopping of our own, and see if they had any flavors that aren’t available in the U.S.
Holy crap. Talk about a kid fat guy in a candy store!

That’s when I saw it. The tortilla chip Ritter Sport. What the what?

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

OMFG you guys. I don’t even have words.

We actually only bought two bars at the time, but once we got back to the hotel and dug into one we knew we had to go back. Luckily they had them at the grocery store near our hotel, so we ended up getting like 10 bars to bring home with us to share with everyone we know and love.

If you’ve ever had a chocolate covered potato chip you kind of know what I’m talking about, but there’s even more happening here. You get the sweet and salty and crunchy thing, but then you also have the toasty earthy sweet corn flavor of a tortilla chip. Plus angels. And unicorns. Weeping tears of joy.

It’s like that.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

Since I can’t actually share my Ritter Sport bounty with all of you, I thought I’d do the next best thing. The next best thing being the creation of a gussied up version of a candy bar, in fancy pants tart form.

The tortilla chip crumbles in the candy bar seem thicker and crunchier and somehow “cornier” than a normal tortilla chip, and to me at least, taste almost like Fritos. Nothing wrong with that.

So, in a moment of genius-level perfect clarity, I decided to crush up Fritos in a food processor and use them in the same way you would graham cracker or cookie crumbs in a pie crust. Just add butter and sugar and bake.
Rather than just filling the shell with chocolate, I decided to take it one step further and add a layer of sweet gooey buttery caramel too, and then cover that with heavenly rich dark chocolate ganache.

If you dig the sweet and salty chocolate thing, you have to try this. You can thank me later.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

Chocolate Caramel Frito Tart

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Frito crust:
1 1/4 Fritos corn chip crumbs (from about 3 to 3 1/2 cups chips)
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Caramel Filling:
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place about 3 to 3 1/2 cups of Fritos corn chips in a food processor or blender and pulse into fine crumbs. You could also use a ziplock bag and a rolling pin in a pinch. Save a tablespoon or two for garnish if you have any leftover.
Measure out 1 1/4 cups of crumbs and transfer to a bowl. Add melted butter and sugar and stir until butter is evenly distributed throughout mixture. Transfer crumbs to a 9″ tart pan, ideally one with a removable bottom, and evenly press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and up the sides to form a crust.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until it smells toasty and just barely begins to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Caramel Filling:
Heat the butter and cream together in a small saucepan (or in the microwave) just until the butter has melted. Set aside.

In a separate medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water over low heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Increase the heat to high and boil, without stirring, until it reaches a deep golden amber (340 on a candy thermometer, but I just went by color). Once it starts to brown watch it carefully. If it gets too dark it will turn bitter.
Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the cream mixture (It will bubble up a lot, be careful!). Return the pan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the vanilla and salt, and then pour caramel into the crust.
Refrigerate until firmly set, at least 30 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache:
Place the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Pour hot cream directly over the chocolate. Let it sit for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate over the firmly set caramel layer and spread smooth. Sprinkle with additional Fritos crumbs before transferring the tart to the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to set up.

This tart is incredibly rich so slices should probably be on the smaller side.
Leftovers should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

drømmekage (Danish dream cake) bundt cake #bundtbakers

Are you guys as ready for summer as I am?

drømmekage (danish dream cake) bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Are you ready for sunny days and warm weather? Ready to feel the warmth of sunshine on your skin? Ready to walk outdoors in short sleeves and single layers of thin cotton clothing?

I’m not afraid to admit that I am. I am 100% ready. I’m also, officially, over this winter.

drømmekage (danish dream cake) bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Up until this point I’ve been doing just fine. Really I have!
Here in the Northeast this winter has been totally mild and easily tolerated. At least it was until last week, when shady ol’ Mother Nature decided it would might great fun to give us a little taste of what we’ve been missing.

For three glorious days, temperatures were suddenly in the mid-70s during the day, with ample sunshine, warm breezes, and the smells of spring air. Record breaking warmth for this time of year. Easily deceived by Mother Nature’s dirty tricks, I started planning barbecues and garden parties.

Our false summer was fleeting though, and disappeared behind some rain clouds as suddenly as it arrived, leaving us to close the windows again and turn the heat back up.

drømmekage (danish dream cake) bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Luckily, Christiane from Taking on Magazines chose “Tropical Vacation” as our theme for the bundt bakers this month. What better way to delude myself into thinking it’s warm and bright and wonderful outside when you and I both know that it isn’t?

If you’re as hungry (pun very much intended) as I am for some tropical distraction, please be absolutely certain that you scroll down past the recipe and see all the bright & tropical bundts that everyone came up with this month!

drømmekage (danish dream cake) bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Oddly enough, I’ve never really been a huge fan of most tropical fruits. For whatever reason, I prefer my produce from more temperate climates. Maybe it’s because my family comes from sturdy cold-weather Bavarian German stock, maybe it’s because my grandfather spoiled me with all of his fruit trees and garden fresh berries, or maybe it’s just because I’m a creature of habit and prefer what I’m familiar with. Who knows?
Either way, given a choice between an apple or a mango, a pear or a papaya, a peach or a pineapple, 9 times out of 10 I’m going to choose the option that grows right here in the Northeast, not the one grown on some faraway island under the shade of a palm tree.

drømmekage (danish dream cake) bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Coconut however, is the one exception to my aversion to tropical fruit. Ever since I was a child I’ve loved coconut, and I can remember countless fluffy white cakes covered in downy clouds of sweetened coconut flakes. I especially love coconut around Easter, when Grandma’s coconut cakes used to be made to look like cute fuzzy bunnies with licorice lips and whiskers, and candy coated eyeballs and noses.

It’s only fitting that I now have the chance to make a sensational coconut bundt cake with Easter only 10 days away.

drømmekage (danish dream cake) bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

A sensational bundt cake calls for a sensational bundt pan. Luckily Nordic Ware, the company that literally invented the bundt pan, just released a gorgeous new pan to celebrate their 70th anniversary. This elegant crown shaped pan is a gold plated show stopper and features curves in all the right places! They’re truly celebrating their anniversary in style.

Nordic Ware has been making exceptional cookware and bakeware right here in the US for 70 years now, and even after all this time they’re still a family owned company. The bundt pan is by far their most famous and most popular product, and no one makes bundt pans as well as they do. Their pans are sturdy, heavy duty, ultra-non-stick, and unbelievably durable.
I should know! I put those bundt pans through more than their fair share of abuse!
I know that I’ve said this before, but as a bundt baker and bundt lover, I can’t sing enough praises for Nordic Ware’s bundt pans.

drømmekage (danish dream cake) bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I really wanted to come up with something special this month, so I was on a mission to come up with a recipe that would not only fit our tropical vacation theme, but that could also honor Nordic Ware’s Scandinavian heritage. It didn’t take me long to find a recipe for a traditional Danish cake called a Drømmekage or “Dream Cake”.

If you’re not familiar (I wasn’t), drømmekage consists of a tender vanilla cake that, after baking, is covered with a caramel and coconut topping and returned to the oven to brown up and caramelize. It certainly doesn’t get much dreamier than that!

drømmekage (danish dream cake) bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

The only problem was that drømmekage is usually made as a single layer sheet cake, with the topping added only at the very end of the baking process. Since the top of a bundt cake is actually at the bottom of the pan while it bakes, I knew that converting this cake into a bundt might be challenging. I was a man on a mission though, and I was determined to make it work. I just kept telling myself, “I can bundt that.”

At first I just tried making the recipe as originally written but baking the topping into the bottom of the pan. Unfortunately the topping didn’t hold up well and got sort of rubbery when baked along with the cake for the full time, and I found the vanilla cake to be a bit bland. Next I tried simply mixing the topping ingredients together instead of cooking them into a caramel first. I just added some of the cake batter to get it all to come together. This attempt was much improved but I thought it lacked the toasty caramel flavor I was hoping for. For my third (and final) attempt I decided to toast the coconut and brown the butter before mixing it all together. I also added some vanilla bean and coconut extract to un-bland-ify the interior cake.

Third time’s a charm as they say, and this cake seriously ended up being thebomb.com. Thankfully, it was worth all the effort and recipe testing!

drømmekage (danish dream cake) bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

The rich brown coconut part of this cake is dense and chewy on the outer edges with a buttery and almost creamy quality on the inside. It has an amazingly rich, toasty, nutty flavor from the browned butter and toasted coconut, and a wonderful caramel flavor from the dark brown sugar. The simple vanilla cake on the interior is tender and buttery and packed with warm homey vanilla flavor.

Getting the coconut and brown sugar mixture to work as a “topping” like it would in a traditional dream cake means that you have to carefully press the mixture against the walls of the pan and make sure to push it up the sides and center tube. This can be a bit of a pain but does make for an impressive presentation. If you want to make your life a little easier though, I think it would be simpler and just as delicious if you were to combine these two batters like a marble cake instead. I’ll leave that up to you.

If you can, I recommend you try to make this cake the day before you’d like to serve it. It was amazing on the first day but I found that the texture of the coconut part had become even more tender and wonderful by the second day.

drømmekage (danish dream cake) bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Drømmekage (Danish Dream Cake) Bundt Cake

adapted from Saveur

If possible, try making this cake one day before you plan to serve it. The cake benefits from a day’s rest.

Coconut “Topping”:
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

Cake: 
1 1/4 cups sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod discarded (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder)
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup powdered sugar for dusting, optional

Heat the oven to 350.
Evenly brush a 10 to 12 cup non-stick bundt pan with softened butter. Be sure to get into every nook and cranny. Dust pan with flour and tap out excess. Place pan in freezer while you proceed with recipe.

Make the coconut “topping”:
Spread coconut in an even layer over a large baking sheet. Toast coconut for about 10 minutes, stirring once to promote even browning and prevent burning. Watch carefully, the coconut can go from toasty to burnt in under a minute.
Once cool enough to handle, crush up roughly half of the coconut with your hands.
In a medium saucepan, brown the butter (only first stick) over medium heat, stirring regularly. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Once the butter reaches a nutty golden color, immediately transfer to a heatproof bowl. If desired, strain out browned milk solids in the butter. (I did, but not entirely necessary)
Add brown sugar and toasted coconut and stir to combine. Set aside.

Make the cake:
In a the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the sugar and softened butter (remaining stick) on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add scraped vanilla bean seeds (or paste or powder) and mix to combine. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl between additions. Add vanilla and coconut extracts and beat to combine.
Whisk together flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
Alternate additions of flour and milk, beginning and ending with flour, scraping sides of bowl after each addition.  Mix just to combine after each addition. Do not over-mix.

Measure out about 2 cups of the batter and transfer to the bowl with the (cooled) browned butter and coconut mixture. Fold the batter in until combined.

If you want the coconut mixture on the outside and top of the cake, transfer it to the bundt pan and press the mixture against the sides of the pan, pushing it almost all the way up the outer sides and center cone of the pan. Next pour the remaining cake batter into the center of the coconut side walls.
If you’d prefer a marbled effect, pour cake batter into pan first, dot the top of the batter with several large spoonfuls of coconut mixture, and gently swirl the two batters together with a dull knife or icing spatula.

After adding batter to pan, gently tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles.
If using an intricately designed pan, you may want to place it on a cookie sheet to keep it level in the oven. Transfer to the center of the oven and bake just until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes.

Cool for 15 to 20 minutes on a wire rack before inverting the cake onto the rack to remove the pan. Cool for at least 30 minutes more before dusting with powdered sugar. Store in under a cake dome, in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent the cake from drying out. If well stored, the cake should keep for several days at room temperature.

drømmekage (danish dream cake) bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

There are so many mouthwatering bundts this month you can’t help but feel tropical. Regardless of what’s happening outside, you’re gonna need sunglasses to get through these amazing links!

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BundtBakers

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#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving Bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient. You can see all of our lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest Board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers can be found on our homepage.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle

Christmas is officially (almost) upon us, and I frankly couldn’t be more stressed.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m going to take a second here to be totally honest with you. I hope you can handle it.

Number one, I work in retail.
The “most wonderful time of the year” also translates to the most hectic and agonizing time of the year to anyone who works in the service industry. Something about buying gifts to spread all that holiday happiness and joy really brings out the worst in people.

Beyond that, I’ve always been a little bit stressed by the holidays. The pressure to buy gifts for dozens of people gives me serious anxiety. Trying to make sure all the gifts fit the recipients in a truly thoughtful way, and that nothing should appear cheap or hasty, is just too much for me. Oddly enough, I also don’t really enjoy receiving gifts. I guess that’s kind of weird, but I don’t really need anything and something about giving people lists feel really disingenuous and unnatural to me. I’m also very particular and picky and often feel like I would rather just buy things for myself.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m sure a lot of you are thinking I’m an awful scrooge and just a terrible human being in general, but I promise you that I’m not! It’s not that I hate the holidays, it’s just that there are a few aspects of this season that really rub me the wrong way. If Christmas was more about spending time and less about spending money, I’d like it so much more. As much as I resent the conspicuous consumption, I promise that there are actually are tons of aspects of Christmas that I really love!

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

Any reason to spend real quality time with friends and family is great in my book, and I honestly really love the whole ritual of getting a tree and decorating the house and hanging stockings and all that. I also love all the food and sweets. Obviously.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

This time of year my grandmother would always have trays and trays of cookies and candies and snacks out for grazing, and one thing I could never resist was the peanut brittle. There’s just something about that caramel-y nutty crunchy salty sweet thing that really does it for me. It may not be true for most people, but peanut brittle (or any nut brittle for that matter) will always make me think of Christmas.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’d never made my own brittle before so I thought it would be fun to try something new this holiday season. Homemade gifts, and food gifts especially, have always felt so much more honest and heartfelt and true to me than any things you can buy in a store. After a test batch for myself, I decided that I liked my brittle so much that I would make a few extra batches to give out as a Christmas treats to our favorite businesses in the area where I work.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

The Williamsburg neighborhood (where Whisk is based) is growing into a major shopping district, but it’s historically been a small underdog neighborhood and the main shopping area is made up mostly of small independent shops. A lot of the shops and restaurants work really closely together, and this time of year we often exchange little treats and food gifts to help everyone through this hectic season.

The brittle was a huge hit, and it was really nice to get out of the store for a bit and see the smiles on everyone’s faces when I dropped off their cute little paper boxes wrapped up with bakers twine.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

This recipe is a really interesting twist on traditional peanut brittle. The toasted walnuts have a special kind of earthy bitterness that complements the sweetness of the candy really beautifully. Real maple syrup is a natural pairing with walnuts, and the addition of just a touch of molasses gives just a bit more depth and adds a rich caramel-iness. Adding a sprinkle of crunchy minerally fleur de sel or maldon sea salt elevates the whole experience with an adult elegance. This stuff is perfect.

It’s actually not difficult to make either, though you will need a candy thermometer since the addition of molasses makes it difficult to tell by color which stage the cooked sugar has reached. You’ll also want to use a much bigger pot than you think, because the sugar boils and bubbles up a lot!

Happy Holidays y’all!

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

Salted Maple and Molasses Walnut Brittle

  • Servings: about 2 pounds of brittle
  • Print
adapted from Food & Wine

2 cups sugar
1/3 cup (real) maple syrup
3 tablespoons unsulphered molasses
1/2 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
12 ounces chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of Fleur de sel or crushed Maldon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread walnuts out in an even layer and toast for about 10 minutes or until they smell like heaven. Don’t leave them in too long or they could burn and become very bitter.

Combine sugar, water, butter, maple syrup, molasses, and corn syrup in a large stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is thick with tight bubbles and registers 300° on a candy thermometer, about 10 or 15 minutes. Since the syrup and molasses give the mixture a dark color, it’s hard to tell if it’s reached the hard crack stage from color. I’d highly recommend the use of a candy thermometer.

Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda and cinnamon. Be careful, the mixture will bubble up. Stir in the walnuts, then immediately scrape the brittle onto a large rimmed buttered baking sheet. Using the back of a silicone spatula or spoon (oil it lightly if it sticks), spread the brittle into a thin, even layer. Work fast. Letting the candy cool too much before spreading can affect the texture. Immediately sprinkle with salt. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break the brittle into large shards.