For AL’s birthday last year, we made this cake from Everything2. I then made the same cake for my parents over Thanksgiving. It’s a simple, good cake.

I wanted to make it again, but pondered over the veganness of it. The cake part itself–butter, sugar, flour, egg–is easy to manage a vegan version of. It’s the caramel that got me.

Armed with little more than a failed experience of coconut cream and a slow cooker, I looked around the kitchen and amassed my weapons:

Coconut milk (one can)
Coconut cream (one can)
Sugar (some amount)
Arrowroot powder (some amount)

I mixed the first three. The sugar was “to taste.” It was as sweet as I wanted it to be. I let this cook for about an hour. Then I added some arrowroot powder and let it cook for about another hour. The arrowroot got clumpy. I hate the nails-on-a-chalkboard quality of arrowroot (and potato starch for that matter), so I dumped some in rather clumsily. It was ugly, so I poured the whole mixture into a blender and then, once it was smooth, back into the pot.

It got thick and, before I knew it, I had caramel. Gooey, sticky, delicious caramel.

The takeaway here is that cooking is awesome. Experimentation while cooking is even better.

The first time I tried to do this, I put coconut cream and sugar into a slow cooker for eight hours and came out with a slightly thicker than it went in too sweet syrup. I learned that this did not work. I knew a stove would be better, for added head, and that I needed a thickener of some sort. It might not have worked, I consider myself lucky that it did.

Some of my friends tell me I’m a good cook. Unbecomingly, I swell with pride. I put a lot of effort into trying to cook well, but I know I can be better. That effort is shown in the countless things that have failed–the fallen cakes that break apart as they come out of pans, the unmelted cheese (from back in the day), the poorly seasoned everything, the raw on the inside rice, the burnt black beans. The messes and smells that the microwave never quite recovers from. I feel people, cook. Do not bake, do not follow recipes exactly, but cook. Experiment. Understand it may not work. -Read- recipes and learn from them, but deviate so you can see how each ingredient affects the final product and what they do when combined. Use your hands to mix, so you know what it doesn’t just look like, but what it feels like. Smell everything. In the words of Miss Frizzle: take changes, make mistakes, get messy.

3 thoughts on “Caramel

  1. Hmm, sounds tasty. Does the caramel end up with a coconutty flavor, or just caramely sweet? And out of curiosity, why did you choose to use arrowroot instead of something more common like corn starch? I’ve never really cooked with arrowroot powder. Experimenting with food is fun :-).

    • It is tasty, a little coconutty, and very sweet. We have a lot of arrowroot, and no cornstarch, so it seemed like the thing to do.

      I want to try making spun sugar caramel sometime.

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