Drumstick cake delivers all the flavors of the classic treat except for the ice cream
My latest baking adventure was inspired by a hot summer day: What I really wanted to create was an ice cream cake, but that wasn't possible due to a lack of refrigeration at my destination. So I brought the next best thing -- a Drumstick Layer Cake -- that was full of all the components of the frozen treat, but without the ice cream.
Credit for this clever recipe goes to LoveLifeandSugar.com, one of my favorite websites for sweet treats. The recipes appear elaborate but are supported by simple instructions and technical videos, making even the most complex-looking decorations seem easy.
The recipe includes everything needed to make the entire cake, including frosting, salted caramel, ganache and salty-sweet crunchies from scratch. Yes, there are multiple recipes within this recipe, so if this sounds overwhelming, fear not, as I have some shortcuts to share.
The first recipe is for a traditional yellow cake, so if you'd prefer not to drag out all of the ingredients, feel free to use your favorite yellow cake mix instead.
In my opinion, the best of these recipes is for homemade salted caramel. The recipe is straightforward. Just be sure to follow the instructions carefully so as not to crystallize the mixture, thus ruining it. The caramel can be made up to two weeks ahead and makes precisely the amount you will need for the cake. If you'd like to have some extra on hand to drizzle over ice cream, you may want to double it. (Do this -- you will not be sorry.)
If you'd rather not make homemade caramel, feel free to substitute a high-quality ice cream topping that becomes firm when refrigerated. Allow the caramel to come to room temperature before measuring one cup into a small bowl and stirring in ½ to 1 teaspoon table salt to taste, and you're ready to go.
The recipe directs you to make two different batches of ganache, one for the filling and another for the topping, but if making ganache is not for you, use high-quality prepared fudge ice cream topping that is firm at room temperature. Be sure to warm it a little before starting to build your cake.
The place you don't want to skimp is with the crunchies. If you're anything like me, you will wish you made a double batch to have on hand for a snack later -- it is that good!
Last but not least is the homemade vanilla buttercream. If you make this from scratch, you will be rewarded with creamy, delicious frosting. I noted in the recipe that I did not use the entire amount of powdered sugar called for in the original recipe. I did this because I thought the frosting was sweet enough and didn't need all the extra sugar. Be prepared to use all 10 cups, but taste along the way as you add it to your butter mixture. You will know when you have the right degree of sweetness.
This showstopping cake stands tall with four layers of cake filled with salted caramel, fudgy chocolate ganache and a crunchy layer covered in creamy vanilla buttercream frosting -- the perfect balance of sweet and slightly salty.
So, whether you decide to make everything from scratch or take a shortcut or two, it is guaranteed to impress. I hope your friends and family enjoy it as much as we did.
• Penny Kazmier, a wife and mother of four from South Barrington, won the 2011 Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge. Contact Penny at DhCulinaryAdventures@gmail.com.