. . . and may I never unleash destruction in a kitchen again like I did while making this Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake. Amen.
It started innocently enough. David and I have our 10th anniversary coming up soon, and to celebrate, I decided to make a cake using corn syrup that I bought right around the time we were married:
But first, I emailed Amanda and asked her if corn syrup goes bad. Soon after, she responded "Julie doesn't think so. Is it still liquid?" I looked at it. It was mostly still liquid, but had a crystal city of sorts forming along the bottom of the jar:
I decided not to take any chances. I mean, since joining TWD, I've invested in pans and dishes of various odd sizes, exotic liqueurs, fine international chocolates, precious spices, and a blowtorch. And I finally decide that a $2.00 bottle of corn syrup is where I draw the line? I quickly saw the absurdity in this, and asked David to fetch me some Karo on the way home from work.
The cake part of this was relatively uneventful.
I did trip over a chair that the kids had dragged up to to counter to help, spilling a brand new bottle of vanilla in the process. And right after that, I walked over to the fridge and hit a puddle of water on the floor that my son didn't mop up after helping himself to a drink of water, and wiped out cold (and you see why I had reservations about using a blowtorch?). But that was all small potatoes compared to what was to come.
It was time to make the caramel. Dorie says "cook until it reaches a deep amber color." About 10 minutes into the process, I looked at my caramel and thought "hmmmm, that looks like a light amber to me.
Let me go start a load of laundry, and it should be close to deep amber when I get back." LESSON #1: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MULTITASK WHEN MAKING CARAMEL.
When I got back to the kitchen a couple of minutes later, it was not a deep amber, but a burnt amber.
As I was assessing the awful boiling tar in my pan, and doing a quick calculus about whether it could be salvaged (no, I really WASN'T thinking straight) the fire alarm started wailing. And wailing. And wailing. Now, you should know that I completely lose my wits when alarms are blaring. I know that this is probably not a good trait in a grownup. But when an alarm goes off I suddenly feel like a four year old again, and I just want to cover my ears and cower in a corner.
Unfortunately, the alarm going off was the ADT alarm, not the battery-powered smoke alarm (from which we could simply remove the batteries). David ran into the room and yelled over the din of the alarm "I DON'T KNOW HOW TO GET THIS ALARM OFF!" I yelled back "NEITHER DO I!!" We threw open the doors and turned on the fan. David made his way to the keypad and yelled "WHAT'S THE CODE??" I yelled back "I DON'T KNOW!!!" (Aren't I useful to have around in a crisis situation??). We tried out several possible code combos and finally hit the right one. The alarm mercifully stopped. I could breathe again. Then David said "you know that the ADT people are going to call now." Sure enough, ADT Central Command called seconds later. David answered the phone. He said, "hello, yes, thank you for calling. We're all fine, thanks. Just a little sugar carmelizing incident in the kitchen. The password? Hmm, hang on one second." He asked me the password. I knew that if I couldn't come up with the password, ADT would send the real police or fire department out to make sure that an intruder had not broken into our house, tied us all up, and proceeded to burn caramel in my kitchen. I felt like I had already caused enough damage for one night, and I really would not have been able to live with myself if a busy, hardworking firefighter or police officer was dispatched to our house as a result of the fact that I am an idiot. I closed my eyes and thought really hard. I remembered the password.
Even though I can make any short story long, this all really happened within a matter of minutes. I still had a pan full of boiling black post-caramel sludge to deal with. Of course I did what any person completely lacking common sense would do and poured it down the sink. LESSON #2: IF YOU FOOLISHLY DISREGARD LESSON #1 AND BURNT CARAMEL RESULTS, DO NOT POUR IT DOWN THE SINK UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
I watched in horror as the remains of the caramel hardened into granite-like formations all over my kitchen sink, and inside the garbage disposal.
My mind raced back to a little over a year ago, when we were scrambling to finish renovating the kitchen in our new house so that we could move in before our baby was born. I remember hauling my huge eight month pregnant self to the plumbing supply showroom, and being overwhelmed by the dizzying array of kitchen sink choices, and Brandi, the sales rep, saying "you won't regret going with an 18 gauge stainless steel sink. It's indestructible." Oh Brandi. You had no idea who you were talking to.
I turned on the disposal just for kicks. The silence was deafening. I looked at my pan. It, too, was completely coated with rock hard caramel.
I reached into the disposal to try to dig out some caramel, and cut my fingers up (not on the blades, but on the caramel, which was much sharper and harder than the blades). I got a putty knife out and started chipping away at my candy coated sink, and quickly realized that I had a better chance of being crowned the next American Idol than I did of removing the caramel that way. That's when I googled "removing burnt caramel."
I feel like I have made so many great blogging friends in the short time that I've been in TWD. I am amazed by the talent, energy, and creativity of the people who do this. I can't tell you how many times that I have had no idea what to make for dinner until I jumped onto Prudy's, or Nancy's, or Laura's, or Pamela's, or Andrea's, or Anne's, or Lori's, or Maria's, or Mary Ann's blogs. And there are so many others of you -- I couldn't possibly list all of the talented people who do this and inspire me day in and day out. I just don't bring much to the table, so let me take this opportunity to "give back" a tiny little bit in return for all that you have given to me:
REMOVING BURNT CARAMEL FROM HARD SURFACES
Add at least 1T baking soda per 1C water
Bring to boil.
While mixture is boiling, take scrubber and give pan a good scrub. Be careful not to burn yourself!
Liberally pour mixture on any surface on which burnt caramel has solidified and scrub hard and quick. Repeat as needed.
Supplement with Diet Sprite as required. Carbonation is the key.
This recipe works on sinks, countertops, pans, and the insides of garbage disposals (although you may have to press the "reset" button as well.)
After successfully removing the hardened caramel with my new favorite recipe, I dusted myself off and tried again on the caramel. If you can believe it, I ACTUALLY THOUGHT ABOUT DARTING INTO THE LAUNDRY ROOM REALLY QUICKLY, just to hang up my daughter's leotard for the next day's dance class, but David blocked my path and said "how 'bout you just stand in front of that pan this time." It's not always easy being an ADD baker, you know. Under my reluctantly watchful eye, the caramel worked out much better the second time around:
I had one piece (it was quite good) and then I threw the rest of it away, because that cake is cursed -- cursed I tell you!! -- and I couldn't possibly share it with the people I love, or even with the people I just like. If there were people out there that I didn't care much for, I might bring them this cake -- it's tastier than a voodoo doll! -- but I am easy to please and pretty much like everybody. There was some baaaaaaad juju going on with that cake, and I felt beaten up and bruised after making it (probably because I WAS beaten up and bruised), and I also felt inexplicably sticky for about four days after making this. At the end of the day, I think I need my recipes to be a little more "forgiving" than this one was. Thank you for picking this, Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy -- as usual, I am sure it was just me, not the cake. On to the pumpkin muffins!
8 months ago