Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

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A Captivation Called Caramel

posted by in Home Bakers, Makati

caramel cover

When I think of caramel cake, I think of a lightly-spun wonder barely sturdy enough to carry its cloak of caramel. This cake is nothing like that.

When I first meet Monica Allado-De Luzuriaga, her name isn’t a hyphenate just yet and she’s on the powerlifting team at the gym we both attend. Life goes on and one day, I find her online,  “… just pricing my caramel cake…”, which gives me good reason to re-connect with her.

While the powerlifter-baker combination seems odd – a light touch is a boon to a baker after all – it’s obvious she can do both with aplomb. Spurred to bake by her husband and mom-in-law, herself an accomplished baker, Monica gamely took to the kitchen. Enlivened by her kids’ glee and injected with the confidence of her mom-in-law’s caramel cake recipe, the rest is history in the making.

I’ve said before that a caramel cake may be my most favorite cake in all the world, probably because I can polish off a 9-incher in one sitting, the forbidden excess of which, appeals to me. Plus, I always love a good caramel in whatever form. I don’t see myself demolishing Monica’s caramel cake in a single go, however. For one, it’s much denser than expected for this type of cake; as she puts it, “…it was a chiffon cake that slowly evolved into a sponge cake … plus an additional touch of butter.” Equally fascinating is that the recipe belongs to Monica’s mom-in-law, the result of 40+ (!) years of tweaking and tasters’ feedback. Instances like this reinforce my interest in how bakers’ recipes are refracted through the spectrum of tastes and times.

For a dessert to keep me enthralled, it must have contrasts, and this caramel cake has it in spades. First, it’s an arresting vision, a preview of the flavor phases to come. The honeyed glow of caramel made with browned butter and sugar then beaten with condensed milk which provides the dominant note coupled with a hint of what may be evaporated milk. I feel that a splash of vanilla extract would cut the sometimes overly milky aftertaste, round out the flavor a bit. But what I appreciate about this cake is that the caramel’s not too sweet, just continuous smoothness all throughout until it comes to the cashew praline.

caramel-cashew coat

Let me tell you about this praline. Chewy and crunchy with crushed cashews, it’s bliss in a candied brittle. Addictive beyond belief, I find myself stealing little bits here and there, telling myself I’m “smoothing out the edges,” and before I know it, half the cake is woefully naked. Never mind, this is a cake to celebrate in, not to regret. Underneath that caramel-cashew coat, there’s a crumb that’s delightfully dense but downy too, echoes of butter and flour resonating. I beseech you to not eat this cake straight from the fridge, lest you want a brick-like cake. Let it sit a bit, it’ll tenderize, sousing in its caramel cover as you putter about your business; then, when you’re ready it’ll be what it’s meant to be, edible satin waiting beneath that captivation called caramel.

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Caramel Cake by Monica Allado-De Luzuriaga

9” round – P650
9”x13” rectangular cake – P1200

44 Samar Ave. Brgy. South Triangle, Quezon City 1103
0915.992.1636
926.1239
monica.deluzuriaga@gmail.com
*For orders please call, text, or PM (private message) through Facebook or Friendster or Multiply
*Minimum 2 days notice is required for orders.
*Pick up is at the address above.

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