Goats, Fat toads, family, laughter and divine farm-made caramel and goat cheese, all on a back road in Brookfield, Vermont. Fat Toad Farm is a small family-operated dairy farm run by Steve Reid, Judith Irving, Calley and Josey Hastings. They treat their high-quality Alpine and Saanen goat herd like family, and as a result of all this hard work, we get to enjoy a variety of flavorful creamy goat cheese spreads and goats' milk caramel. Hard to choose, but one of my favorite products is the goats' milk caramel, known in Mexico as Cajeta. Small batches are made with fresh goat milk and organic cane sugar, this is hand-stirred over the stove for about four hours. During this time, the sugars in the goat milk and the organic cane sugar caramelize and produce the most incredible sweet and tasty caramel sauce. Four hard-to-choose from flavors may be purchased: original caramel, caramel infused with two types of cinnamon sticks, coffee bean infused caramel, and vanilla bean caramel.
This unique sweet treat is rich and delicious! Fat Toad Farm caramel is a staple in my kitchen as it highlights so may desserts. Served simply with fresh fruit, it is fit for a king.
Recently around breakfast time, I entered my favorite grocery store Sweet Clover Market. I made the spontaneous purchase of coconut milk ice cream, raw walnuts and Fat Toad Farm Caramel. I went to work, grabbed a spoon out of my kitchen, and sat at my desk to start checking emails. Quickly I opened the ice cream and then the caramel, and began dipping and dunking my spoon, topping it with a walnut half and -w0olah!- my food high felt like it was fueled by some NASA space ship that transported me the planet of happy food bliss.
So readers, I dare you. Try it. I have attached a crowd pleaser recipe which, for once, is not mine but courtesy of Rick Bayless. I love this rich chocolate cake with vanilla flan and goats' milk caramel. It is wildly fun to make because, in the cooking process the flan and the cake switch places, so when the cake is cooked and cooled completely you flip it onto a serving platter and you have flan on top and cake on the bottom. Please share your comments on this recipe and let me know about your food high.
Impossible Cake (AKA chocoflan)Pastel Imposible (AKA Chocoflan)
Serves 12 generously
For the mold:
A little softened butter and some flour
1 cup store-bought or homemade cajeta (goat milk caramel)
For the cake:
3 ½ ounces (7 tablespoons) butter, slightly softened
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
Or 2 tablespoons espresso
½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup cocoa powder (I like the more commonly available—not Dutch process—cocoa best here)
¾ cup buttermilk
For the flan:
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, preferably Mexican vanilla
- Prepare the mold. Turn on the oven to 375 degrees and position the rack in the middle. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch round cake pan (you need one that’s 3 inches deep), sprinkle with flour, tip the pan, tapping on the side of the counter several times, to evenly distribute the flour over the bottom and sides, then shake out the excess. Microwave the cajeta for 30 seconds to soften it, then pour over the bottom of the pan, tilting the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Set a kettle of water over medium-low heat. Set out a deep pan that’s larger than your cake pan (a roasting pan works well) that can serve as a water bath during baking.
- Make the cake batter. With an electric mixer (use the flat beater, if yours has a choice), beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light in color and texture. Scrape the bowl. Beat in the egg and espresso. Sift together the all-purpose and cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa. With the mixer on medium-low, beat in about ½ of the flour mixture, followed by ½ of the buttermilk. Repeat. Scrape the bowl, then raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute.
- Make the flan mixture. In a blender, combine the two milks, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend until smooth.
- Layer and bake. Scrape the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and spread level. Slowly, pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. (I find it easiest to pour the mixture into a small ladle, letting it run over onto the batter.) Pull out the oven rack, set the cake into the large pan, then set both pans on the rack. Pour hot water around the cake to a depth of 1 inch. Carefully slide the pans into the oven, and bake about 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out dry. Remove from the water bath and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
- Serving. Carefully run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake/flan to free the edges. Invert a rimmed serving platter over the cake pan, grasp the two tightly together, then flip the two over. Gently jiggle the pan back and forth several times to insure that the cake/flan has dropped, then remove the pan. Scrape any remaining cajeta from the mold onto the cake.