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Early on in my blog career, I wrote a post about conquering my fear of caramel. I received a very thoughtful and helpful comment to that post from none other than Shuna Fish Lydon, the chef behind one of the most accomplished and informative blogs out there: eggbeater.

When the hosts of the November Daring Bakers’ challenge, Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity; Alex of Blondie and Brownie and Jenny of Foray of Food, announced that they would be venturing into caramel territory, I was so excited!

After embracing my fear of caramel, I’ve come to embrace the joy of making it. Mostly because I love the stuff but also because it’s the essence of a Daring Baker: face your fears in the kitchen!

The recipe they chose is Shuna Fish Lydon’s Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. As an added element, they invited Daring Bakers to try their hands at Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert.

Before I begin discussing the challenge, I want to first thank Dolores, Alex and Jenny for forcing Daring Bakers everywhere to embrace their inner caramel-maker!

And I want to especially thank Shuna who has been so gracious throughout this challenge, not only for letting us use her recipe, but also for taking the time to answer the many questions that people have had. It’s an honour to have you with us, Shuna!

Every Daring Bakers’ challenge is different. Some have elements that are very new to me and others have methods that might be different from something I’ve tried before.

Some months I feel the need to provide a step-by-step account of what I’ve done and other months I don’t.

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In this case, I would have to say that the key is the caramel. While I love caramel, I’m not a fan of dark caramel. I prefer the flavour of a lighter caramel so I didn’t cook mine quite as long as the recipe indicated. This meant that my caramel syrup wasn’t as dark and thick as some others, but that’s okay. The flavour was still gorgeous and I’m enjoying the leftover syrup on everything that I can pour it on!

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For me, the best part of this challenge was the icing. This frosting for this cake is made with melted butter! I have never made a frosting with melted butter and to say I was intrigued would be an understatement. And not only is it melted butter, it’s browned butter which has to be one of my favourite flavours. When you brown butter, it takes on a nutty essence that is divine. Everyone adored the frosting! I can’t wait to try it in other recipes.

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In deference to the chewy caramels I used to eat as a child, I had to try the recipe for the Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Alice Medrich. I was not able to obtain ground golden vanilla beans so I used pure vanilla extract instead. Because I love caramel and salt, I added a liberal sprinkling of fleur de sel to the finished product. It was like being a kid all over again!

Embrace your inner caramel-maker and be sure to visit all the other daring bakers to see what they made.

Ciao!