Choc Caramel Popcorn Cake

This was a bit of a hoot to make. This Choc Caramel Popcorn cake was yet another cook the cover from Taste.com magazine for yet another chance to win an oven. I'll let you know how I go :). My kitchen table now has a couple of scorch marks from the sparklers. 

The above cake was not my first attempt (see photo below) I've since made a few adjustments to the recipe. My first hint that the cake would not be good was when I added the lumpy icing sugar to the butter when I was making the icing. No amount of beating was going to get the lumps out. When it comes to making caramel sauce (my family loves any type of caramel sauce) I usually make more than the recipe requires. This time I didn't and I should have. There simply wasn't enough caramel sauce to drip down the sides. As I wasn't going to continue decorating the cake I decided to have a piece. I was so very disappointed - it was dry & crumbled a lot.

My first thought was that I had stuffed up my conversion from a wheat based recipe to gluten free. Only way to tell was to make one with wheat flour - it was dry & crumbled a lot. I settled on a version after trialing a dozen cupcakes with different ingredient quantities. The resulting cake still crumbles a bit but it holds up under the strain. Basically you can't have a light & fluffy cake otherwise it will be squashed by the amount of icing, sauce & extras on top.

When it comes to the topping I found the caramel just a tad too sweet, it was based on a can of Caramel Top 'n Fill. My daughter loved it & would have inhaled it with the buttercream icing if allowed, my son couldn't eat it as it was simply too sweet. In the end I compromised making a caramel from sugar, cream & butter.

Ingredients

3 Cakes

450 g Bakers' Magic Gluten free flour

1 tsp Baking powder

1.5 tsp Bicarb of soda 

270 g Brown sugar

180 g Roasted almond meal

300 g Butter (melted)

3 Eggs

90 g Golden syrup

240 g Milk

 

1 Cake

150 g Bakers' Magic Gluten free flour

1/3 tsp Baking powder

1/2 tsp Bicarb of soda 

90 g Brown sugar

60 g Roasted almond meal

100 g Butter (melted)

1 Egg

30 g Golden syrup

80 g Milk

 

Peanut Butter Frosting

500 g Butter (softened)

425 g Icing sugar (sifted or blitzed in a food processor)

105 g Smooth peanut butter

Optional can of Caramel Top 'n Fill

 

Caramel Popcorn

175 g pkt Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs (check ingredients)

or another caramel flavoured popcorn

140 g Caster sugar

60 g Thickened cream

 

Caramel Topping

175 g Caster sugar

225 g Pouring cream

75 g Butter (softened)

 

Extras

The original cake was decorated with Lindor balls (Sea Salt Caramel), dark Maltesers, jersey caramels & mini waffles. Instead I decorated it with some home made gluten free waffles, chocolate coated almonds & gluten free caramel fudge. Pick some treats that you would like. 

  

Method

Cakes

Preheat oven to 130o C (fan forced). Seriously, bake the cake low & slow (I tried 150, 140 & 130). If your cake comes out of the oven with cracks in the top next time reduce the temperature.

Grease 3 x 20 cm round cake tins & line the base with baking paper. If you don't have 3 tins make 1 cake at a time (they are an easy melt 'n mix method).

Mix together the dry ingredients (Bakers' magic gf flour, brown sugar, almond meal, baking powder & bicarb of soda). I usually whiz it altogether in a food processor.

Warm milk & melt butter. Combine with the golden syrup & eggs (whisk with a fork). I usually put the wet ingredients into my Thermomix & blend @ 37C for 5 mins at speed 2. 

Mix together wet & dry ingredients. I usually use a wooden spoon or a scraper.

Divide evenly among the cake tins & bake for ~35 mins.

When cooked transfer tins to a cooling rack. Allow the cakes to cool down completely in the tins.

Peanut Butter Frosting

You want your cakes to be cool before starting on the icing. 

Use electric beaters (hand held or stand mixer) to beat the butter until pale & creamy.

Sift the icing sugar or blitz it in a food processor.

Add ~1/4 of the icing sugar to the creamed butter beating until it is well incorporated. Repeat 3 more times.

Add the peanut butter & beat until smooth & combined.

Icing the Cake

Put 1 of the cakes on a serving plate. Spread enough icing to cover the top. The original recipe put dollops of Caramel Top 'n Fill on top of the icing - this part is up to you.

Top with another cake & repeat the step above.

Top with the last cake.

Do you want to set the crumbs before you put all the icing on the cakes? Setting the crumbs stops the crumbs getting in the way when you are putting the frosting/icing on. To set the crumbs use as little of the frosting as possible to spread it on the sides of the cake. It might look a little speckled. Put the cake into the fridge to set the icing. Put gladwrap over the remaining frosting.

Spread the remaining frosting over the sides & top of the cake. To get a smooth flat finish on your frosting lightly scrape it with the edge of a removable metal base of a straight edged tart/cake tin. Do the sides first & then smooth the top. Place in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the cake.  

Caramel Popcorn 

Can be made ahead but needs to be kept in an airtight container (if you do make it ahead hide it from the rest of the people in your household).

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Put popcorn into a heat proof bowl.

Warm the cream to just below boiling point & set it aside. 

Place the sugar in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. The original instructions say to cook, shaking pan often for 8-10 mins or until melted & a golden caramel forms. My fry pan has a heavy base & my wrist was getting a little sore so I used a wooden spoon to gently stir the sugar when it had started melting. Ensure you have something close by on which to rest the wooden spoon.

Turn down the heat when all the sugar has melted & it has started going a golden colour.

Quickly & carefully add in the cream (it will probably spit). Use a clean wooden spoon to stir until smooth.

Bring to the boil & simmer for ~3 mins. Remove from the heat & let the bubbles subside.

Working quickly (before the caramel sets), pour over the popcorn & stir to combine.

Spread caramel popcorn over the lined tray.

Set aside to cool. 

Caramel for the cake

The original recipe used a can of Caramel Top 'n Fill but when I made it there wasn't enough caramel to flow majestically down the sides (see photo above of my first attempt). I found the caramel made with the Top 'n Fill too sweet as did my son, my daughter on the other hand could have plonked her face onto the cake & inhaled the icing. We did however all like the caramel over the popcorn so I made more of that (& then added extras). 

Warm the cream to just below boiling point & set it aside. You will use 100 g to add to the melted sugar & then the remaining cream will be added at the end.  

Place the sugar in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the sugar when it starts melting. Ensure you have something close by on which to rest the wooden spoon.

Turn down the heat when all the sugar has melted & it has started going a golden colour.

Quickly & carefully add in 100 g of cream (it will probably spit). Use a clean wooden spoon to stir until smooth.

Boil gently for 3 mins, turn off the heat & add in the butter. Stir it (the butter will separate a bit) & then add in the remaining cream. Constantly stir the caramel until it is smooth.

If you want to know whether it will set when it is on the cake put a little of the caramel on to a saucer & put it in the fridge for ~5 mins. If it is too runny bring the caramel back to the boil & boil for another 1 - 2 mins. 

Allow the caramel to cool considerably before pouring over the top of the cake. Carefully spread the caramel to the edges & allow it to drip down the sides.

Decorate with the caramel popcorn & other goodies. It is best to leave the cake in the fridge until you are ready to serve it. 

Simply enjoy!