December 14, 2009

penuche with panache

Have you tried this thing called penuche frosting? How is it different from caramel frosting or brown sugar frosting? My quick skim of super-reliable sources (you know, things like Wikipedia and Webster's dictionary) leads me to believe that penuche is a fudge-like candy made of brown sugar, butter, and milk. Candy.

Hello, lovah.
So unless you have a thick layer of fudge atop your cake*, cupcake, cookie, or brownie, I think a more fitting name for a topper made from those ingredients would be caramel, brown sugar, or penuche-like frosting--as far as I can tell, they're basically all the same.

*Actually, loving sugar as I do, the prospect of a thick layer of fudgy candy atop my cake sounds rather appealing. But I digress...

How have I gone 26 years without making caramel frosting? It's delicious, divine, decadent, and delectable. I think I've ignored this masterpiece of a cake-blanket because I've always had a bit of an infatuation with cream cheese frosting and usually opt for it over all others. Well, no more. Now it's a battle between the two as to which one most frequently applies itself directly to my derrière.

Thank you, inventor of cinnamon chips.
Folks, this frosting was so scrumptious that the cake beneath it became superfluous. Truth be told, that's a good thing because it really wasn't anything special. Had I not added some cinnamon chips to the batter, it would've been almost worthless. Right now I'm envisioning the glorious apple dapple cake with a smooth and creamy layer of caramel frosting instead of that simple glaze. Yes...

If you're familiar with caramel frosting or any recipe involving boiled sugar, you know how fickle the process can be. This recipe is no exception--if you don't work quickly after whisking in the powdered sugar, good luck spreading the frosting over your cake. You'll have to just eat it from the pot**. I can definitely see how it would be troublesome taking the time to frost a layer cake. Fortunately, all I had to do was dump and spread, and it worked out just fine.

**Once again, not a bad proposition.

Wall o' crusted caramel!
Better than fine, actually--it seems I have a new obsession.

Applesauce Spice Cake with Penuche Caramel Frosting
(based on this recipe)

Cake:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 3/4 cups applesauce
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup cinnamon chips

Frosting:
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugars and beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the applesauce and the egg. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Add to the butter mixture and stir until combined. Add the vanilla, oats, and cinnamon chips. Stir the batter until it is combined well and pour into the prepared dish. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

To make the frosting, heat butter and brown sugar over medium until the mixture comes to a boil about 2 minutes. Add the milk, stir, and bring the mixture back to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Let the mixture cool a bit and whisk in the powdered sugar until thickened and smooth, lightened in color, and beginning to lose its sheen. Pour the frosting onto the cake quickly before it hardens and let it cool and set before cutting.

57 comments:

5 Star Foodie said...

That frosting looks insanely good! Oh, how I would love a slice of this cake with my coffee right now!

Dawn said...

oh how I love when you get new obsessions!

oneordinaryday said...

Yep, I always that penuche was a candy too, but I've never had it. I've also never made caramel frosting, but apparently I'm missing out. Gotta put that on my list of things to do.

lisa said...

Whether the name is quite right or not, the frosting does sound delicious! I have a recipe for penuche candy that I've been meaning to try for a few years. Maybe I'll just make this frosting instead!

kat said...

Caramel frosting does sound soooo decadent!

George Gaston said...

Grace, this cake sounds sublime! There is nothing better than a gooey sugar icing atop spice cake. Thanks for posting this easy to follow frosting recipe.

TKW said...

Gooey frosting that tastes like caramel? Sign me up.

Eve said...

A women after my own heart. I don't divert far from my favourite cream cheese frosting either... but this. this I will try! :)

Lynda said...

Guess what? My Mother used to make penuche frosting all the time! Yup, sometimes she'd just pour some on wax paper into small puddles to have as candy...sometimes it would make it to the top of a cake. Either way it's soooo yummy!
So, I'm drooling over your cake right now, Grace, not only because of the frosting, but the whole applesauce cake sounds fabulous!

Mimi said...

Love penuche! As a frosting it is indeed incredible. I have to admit that the kids have to fight me to clean the bowl on this one.
Mimi

Barbara said...

We used to buy penuche fudge in Mackinac Island when we visited there. And my dad loved it, so mother always made a spice cake for him and used penuche frosting.
Anything caramelly is for me and this is!

Pam said...

I have a feeling this frosting would rate up there with coconut pecan frosting. Drool worthy.

Hungry Dog said...

Um, can I eat a bowl of that right now?

I too am obsessed with cream cheese frosting but can really get on board with most frostings. And recently I've been thinking about caramel frosting for a jam cake I intend to make. never heard it called penuche--you learn something every day!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

OMG, that is a great combo! What a wonderful cake!

Cheers,

Rosa

Cheryl said...

Wow I have not heard of that before, but it sure sounds and looks delish! Thanks for sharing!

Melanie said...

Thanks for explaining penuche. Heard of it but never tried, although the prospect of caramel frosting has me salivating. Looks fantastic.

Amanda said...

Your blog is making me drool all over the place. Seriously... and the close up shots and the gorgeous foods and the descriptions... wow!! I have found a new favorite place!!

Sandie (Inn Cuisine) said...

Did someone say caramel? ;)

Your side notes always crack me up, Grace. I enjoy reading them as much as I do drooling over this spice cake!

Pam said...

Oh my gosh. I love all things caramel. I must try this!

Faith said...

A couple weeks ago, I was reading through my mom's old Betty Crocker cookbook and I saw a recipe for penuche in there...I've been wanting to make it but haven't had the chance yet. This frosting sounds fabulous! Actually, I'll admit, as far as most cakes go, I'm mostly in it for the frosting. ;)

The Teacher Cooks said...

Whatever it is you make it look good and my mouth is watering!!!

Maria said...

I just love your posts, that's all:)

Marjie said...

I made a cake with a penuche frosting recently. My consumers were decidedly unimpressed. It was more like butterscotch than caramel, sad to say.

♥peachkins♥ said...

Oh gosh! Caramel is my favorite flavor! I love this!

Jaime said...

ooooh I love caramel frosting!! love apple anything too. you should try this recipe too
http://www.goodeatsblog.com/2008/09/peanut-buttercups-with-peanut-penuche.html

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I totally know the hard way how bad caramel can go. I can be a distracted baker so caramel and I aren't a great match cooking wise. Eating wise this cake and I would be the best of friends :)

muffinsareuglycupcakes said...

applesauce! caramel! hehe love them both.
just made salted caramel macarons.
the first time i made caramel was a total disaster.
it was bitter :S hahaha!
this would go awesome with some coffee :)

Jessica Lee Binder said...

I'm surprised I've never heard of penuche, but I'm very familiar with caramel. Yum! Of course, your cake would not be without cinnamon either way.

Nutmeg Nanny said...

Oh man this sounds great! Spread this over a spice cake and I would be sooooo happy.

Helene said...

Oh that caramel on top looks so delicious.

Debbie said...

My mouth is soooooooooooooooo watering.

Donna-FFW said...

After seeing this deliciousness I want to add it to my repertoire also. It sounds incredibly delicious and addicting. Fatal lovely combination!

Lori said...

Penuche, caramel, brown sugar, browned butter- I'd eat any of them and moan with delight.

shaz said...

Yum! I made caramel frosting for the first time just last month and had to scrape the stuck bits out of the pan because I was too slow. Mmmm, that bit on the edge with the extra frosting looks soooo good!

Lindsey@pickyeatings said...

Once, for daring bakers, I had to make caramel everything. And after 3 tries I finally got it right. And yes, anything involving melting sugar at high heats is very fickle indeed.

Robin Sue said...

How about this frosting mixed with cream cheese. The marriage of two good things! Or would that be gross?

Bridgett said...

I would die and be in heaven with this!

Chef Jeena said...

Grace, whatever you want to call it this is so fabulous + delicious and just what I enjoy to eat, bravo!

Chef Fresco said...

I've never heard of penuche, but it looks/sounds amazing!

MaryBeth said...

This cake sounds amazing, such wonderful flavors. Looks great Grace!

Jacque said...

My mom always made that type of frosting for some cake I can't remember. Oh my, oh my, did I ever love that stuff!

Yours looks perfectly delish as well. (Thanks for reminding me.... "oh, mom!..."

Jennifer said...

Now this sounds GOOD!!!! Ive not heard of penuche before!

Kate at Serendipity said...

I used to buy penuche in San Francisco when we visited Dan's family. I was glad I didn't live there all the time or I'd be as big as a house--I love the stuff. This frosting sounds wonderful!

Fudge frosting--in my Southern childhood, one of the classic cakes was a chocolate pound cake with fudge frosting. Basically, you made a batch of fudge and poured it on the cake before it became hard. It was amazing. I wish I had a recipe...

Thanks for posting this. I wonder how it would go over cardamom cake? (no, I'm not obsessed. Not at all. )

Baking Monster said...

mm this looks so good,I have done a frosting like this but i think its just called brown sugar so I will try this.

Cate O'Malley said...

The combination of caramel and apples is an absolutely perfect one - this looks divine!

Sophie said...

Every flavour is beautifully combined in here & I oh so love your frosting! It screams: delciousness!!

Emily said...

Oh Grace, that cake looks aaaamazing. I love those flavors. I especially love caramel. Great work my friend.

Lisa-Marie said...

I am going to make peaut butter cakw with this on top. that is my plan. nom nom nom.

Albany Jane said...

Penuche is one of my top favorite fudge's. The boy's too. Delicious.

Kerstin said...

I LOVE anything caramel! What an amazing frosting, I can't wait to try it!

Danielle said...

ok...so I'm...ummm....much older than you (we won't go into specifics here) and I have never heard of panache frosting. where the heck have I been?!!! this looks wonderful!

Monica H said...

Yummy! This looks so good. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I appreciate it!

Lisa said...

Ah, gorgeous! This looks like the best frosting ever. I've never made Penuche before and I wouldn't have known how to describe it but somehow I knew what it was - blonde like butterscotch, maybe a little less smoky than caramel, the color of peanut butter fudge, and almost the same consistency. This frosting seems to make good use of the color and flavor. Very appealing!

Ingrid said...

Whatever name you call that frosting it has been a fave of mine but then me and anything caramel-y go way back!
~ingrid

Jeanne @ Cooksister! said...

Holy moly - an apple cake with caramel frosting. now THAT sounds like a happy new year to me!!

LadyJayPee said...

I love penuche and have a very similar recipe, with just a tad more powdered sugar and a pinch of sea-salt...you know, salted caramel?! Slurp!

Anonymous said...

This was just the recipe I needed for my husband's birthday cake. It turned out just as he remembered that his mom made. It was a hit....and easy to make.