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Jul 27, 2006 04:12 AM

Best frosting for a Burnt Sugar Cake

I have this fantastic recipie from my childhood for a "Burnt Sugar Cake" - basically a butter cake flavored with burnt sugar syrup. It's great and the cake is very manageable to make. My problem is that neither of the recipies I have for the frosting work. Both fail every *&#(!&# time.

The one I'm most drawn to is an egg-white frosting where you whip the egg whites and then drizzle hot carmelized syrup into it. Not too hard to imagine what goes wrong there...the hot syrup just instantly cools and you end up with sharp, toast-crumb sized flecks of cooled caramel in glossy egg mixture -- a lot like a bit-o-honey candy bar. It hardens like that too...sort of like taffy. Not very practical to spread on a cake.

The other one is a pedestrian and over-the-top sweet cooked brown-sugar/heavy cream thing that you end up pouring over the cake and it hardens instantly like a dipped ice-cream cone. (My husband loves this, by the way, but I despise it. It even makes my mouth break out in a sugar burn it's so sweet. Ugh.)

So does anyone out there have a recipe for a frosting that they think would work well with this cake? Please! it's such a great cake....but I'm in danger of never making it again, because it's really not appropriate to be served naked.

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  1. The first frosting you described is a great one to use, but the reason you are getting the sharp hard bits is because you are drizzling the hot caramelized sugar onto either the beater of the mixer or the side of the bowl, or you are streaming it in too fast so it just sinks to the bottom. This contact with the metal beater or the bowl causes the sugar syrup to harden, rather than being incorporated into the whipped egg whites. Try it again, but make sure you use a stand mixer so you can stream the syrup in very slowly, making sure it incorporates into the whites. After the syrup is completely incorporated into the whites, the bowl should feel very warm to the touch. Add a little softened butter and keep beating until it is cool. Voila! Caramel butter cream--delicious on your burnt sugar cake!

    P.S. Can you share the recipe for your cake?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Non Cognomina

      As mistress of cake-related disasters, I can also say that if you cook the sugar syrup a little too long and it starts to harden OR if you wait to long after you remove it from heat (and it starts to harden) you will get the same result. Also, if the syrup is too hot, you can just get a bowl full of loose, white goo.

      I MUCH prefer a recipe I found in Martha Stewart. You but sugar, water, corn syrup, salt, c of t, and egg white in a double boiler and whip with a hand mixer. Seven Minute Frosting. It is MUCH more fool-proof, although probably every 10 times I make it, it f's up and I have to toss it and start over. (we have humidity issues) Fortunately, not terribly expensive ingredients. If you can't find a recipe using that methodology, let me know , I'll try to find the proportions for you.

      I'd like to see that recipe, as well.

      1. re: danna

        When the "loose, white goo" occurs, all is not lost! Keep beating the goo until it cools, up to 10 minutes depending on how hot it is. If the goo starts climbing up the bowl, through in 2 tbsp of cold butter, cut up into a few pieces, which will make the goo "deflate" immediately.

    2. This cake sound really yummy! Would you really want to cover it up w/ a frosting?? How about just dusting it w/ powered sugar and plopping a bunch of raspberries on it? Or some fresh whipped cream and sliced peaches? Can you post the recipe? I'd like to try it! :) KQ

      1. I recently turned up this recipe for a burnt sugar cake that sounds much like yours, with a classic caramel frosting. I haven't tried it yet, but it sure looks good, and the caramel would seem to only enhance the burnt sugar flavor in the cake itself:

        And I sympathize with your egg-white frosting failures. The first time I tried it, everything immediately hardened and cooked onto the beaters. Worst kitchen mess ever. I've had much more luck with Seven-Minute Frosting too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Liana Krissoff

          I was thinking a caramel frosting too. Buttercup Bakery has a good one.

        2. Penuche icing is super easy. There's a recipe for a good one at Diana's Desserts.