Sweet, salty and tart.
A pocket-sized sensory overload.
Mexican caramel infused goodness that pulls its rude finger out in the face of your diet.
Perfect for the third birthday celebration of Chew Town’s inception.
Yesterday, I was in the middle of a usually hectic day in the headquarters of the nation’s Opera Company when a flash of remembrance hit… “Isn’t Chew Town’s blogiversary usually around this time?”. A quick flick into the depths of the blog’s back end and sure enough, there is it. First post dated 6.3.2011. Exactly three years ago to the day.
Shit. Completely unprepared.
A quick phone call to my favourite Sydney gal pal to cancel our evening dinner plans due to my annual tradition of making a cake each year (she, more than anyone, understood my cancellation). And then a long day of being too busy at work while waiting for cake-spiration to hit.
At 4.55 it did.
The plan involved swapping my post schedule around a bit, to bring you a cake using the exquisite Mexican cajeta (a caramel made using goat’s milk) I had in the fridge coupled with one of my all time favourite ingredients, popcorn. It’s a bit chicken-before-the-egg but I promise the recipe for the goat’s milk cajeta will follow shortly! It’s better than Dulce de Leche (I know, big call) so it will be worth the wait.
Before I properly introduce the cake, a bit of love for you guys:
- To the silent readers and recipe cookers – I love that you drop by whenever you can and keep a steady eye on the blog. I know you are there even though you aren’t as vocal as the others (I can tell by the figures you see!). But you mean the world to me, and I’ll continue doing what I do till you tell me otherwise. I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings some time, so please feel free to get in contact with me directly via the contact page… only if you want.
- A big mess of virtual hugs and love for my fellow food bloggers who have continued to regularly provide love and support to this blog over the past year both virtually and in person (you know who you are). I am always so touched by your kind words and feel a little bad when I arrive at your blogs with a flurry of long-overdue post reading and comments.
- A big thank you to family (both mine and Scott’s), friends and work colleagues who all have humbly accepted the mantle of recipe testers – I haven’t killed anyone yet, so we’re doing ok!
- A Chew Town Cheers to Jen and Chris at Pixel Palace for making Chew Town as tech savvy as it is – we will have that long overdue celebratory drink soon.
- To my biggest supporters ever, Scotty and Sara – Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have both of you in my life, and you have each, in your own and completely different ways, heavily influenced the pages of this blog for the better.
Are you all suitably touched now? Good. Let’s move onto the cake!
Petite baby cakes are my new standard in celebration cakes for small groups. This is largely because they stop me from eating too much of them as there are no left overs. I am usually quite bummed about the lack of left overs at first, but then my waist sends me a greeting card of thanks later.
Luckily, this recipe makes two cakes (one for now, and one for later) perfect for the host/hostess with a busy social life and too many gatherings in the calendar. The goats milk cajeta has the wonderful bite that only goats milk can offer, and is used in three spectacular ways: as a sandwich filling for the cakes, incorporated into the buttercream frosting AND drizzled onto the buttercream frosting under the caramel popcorn. With flecks of sea salt added to the cajeta and the caramel popcorn the resulting cake is an overload of sweet, salty and tart… and I mean overload in a good way (see below).
Popcorn and Salted Cajeta Cake
Makes 2 baby cakes
125g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/ 3 cup milk
3 tablespoons salted cajeta (or dulce de leche – cajeta recipe to follow)
Martha Stewart Recipe Adaption
150g butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons salted cajeta (or dulce de leche)
1 cup caster sugar
60g unsalted butter
4 cups popped corn
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons salted cajeta (or dulce de leche)
Preheat oven to 180° Celsius.
Beat butter, caster sugar and vanilla paste in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the eggs individually, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and milk alternately a third at a time, starting and ending with flour. Stir in lightly to combine.Grease and line four 10cm spring form pans. Add 1/4 of the cake mixture to each pan, transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes (until tops are golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Once cool, remove from springform pans and set aside till cooled. Once cooled, even the top of all of the cakes. Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of cajeta onto two of the cakes (3 tablespoons in total) and top with the remaining two cakes till you have two tiered cakes.
Beat butter in the bowl of a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy. Decrease speed to medium and add the icing sugar a little at a time, beating after each addition. After every two additions, increase speed to high and beat for 10 seconds, then return speed to medium and continue. Add salted cajeta and beat until buttercream is smooth. Use immediately, or cover and regrigerate for up to 3 days, bringing to room temperature, then beating on low speed until smooth before using.
Frost both baby cakes with cajeta frosting and set aside till you are ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 180° Celsius and place popcorn evenly spread on a greased tray.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook without stirring for about 5 minutes, or until the sugar melts and then turns a deep amber colour. As the sugar browns, tilt the pan to distribute the melted sugar, but do not stir. Once it is a deep amber colour, remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the remaining 100g butter, whisking until the butter melts and the butter is completely blended into the caramel.
Working quickly, drizzle the hot caramel over the popcorn and toss with two wooden spoons to coat the popcorn lightly. Sprinkle sea salt over the popcorn.
Transfer tray to the oven Bake the caramel corn for about 5 minutes, or until the caramel begins to melt again. Toss the caramel corn to redistribute the caramel more evenly, and then continue baking the caramel corn for another 5 minutes. Toss the caramel corn again to redistribute the caramel, and then allow the caramel corn to cool completely. The caramel corn will harden as it cools.
To the top of your frosted cakes pour 2 tablespoons of salted cajeta and top each with a handful of caramel corn. Do this just before serving.
*Makes more than you need for the cakes… but it’s CARAMEL POPCORN people!