Friday, July 05, 2024


I take my coffee black, without any sweeteners or cream, and that is how I've loved it for years, but when it comes to desserts, any combination with caramel is an instant winner for me. The perfect blend of rich coffee and sweet caramel delight. A wonderful, robust espresso cookie base, gorgeous caramel layers, and plenty of velvety caramel frosting make for the perfect after-dinner or brunch treat.
I love serving it with a cup of coffee, as I find it pairs amazingly well with this type of cake, but a tall glass of cold milk of your choice is a good option, as well. It is also a marvellous however you choose to serve it - straight out of the refrigerator, with a texture of an ice cream bar, or slightly softened, after being at room temperature for about 15 minutes. There really is no wrong way of serving it.
My tips for success
If you have a tiny sheet pan that fits into your oven alongside the cake pan with the batter, you can bake the cookie and the cake layers simultaneously, only taking the cookie out earlier. This saves time and energy, of course. But if you do not have a tiny sheet pan, simply invert a cake pan and bake the cookie that way.
If you enjoy a stronger coffee flavour, add up to ½ teaspoon of instant espresso more to the cookie, but not more than that, because it will turn out bitter and almost overpowering.
And finally, if you add caramel sauce to the filling and frosting, like I did, be prepared that there will be pieces of chewy and thick caramel throughout the frosting. If you are fine with that, perfect; if not, and you want it completely smooth, add the caramel sauce to the butter and cream them together before blending in the custard.

For the vegan caramel cake layers
85 grams plain flour
70 grams coconut sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
90 millilitres tepid water
For the vegan cappuccino cookie
20 grams coconut sugar
20 grams vegan block butter, slightly softened
25 millilitres soy milk
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
45 grams plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
For the caramel cream filling
300 millilitres soy milk, cold
100 grams granulated sugar
50 grams cornflour
100 grams vegan block butter, softened
50 grams vegan caramel sauce, optional

Start by making the caramel custard, as it takes time to cool down. Take away about 100 millilitres of soy milk, and whisk it very well with sifted cornflour. Set it aside, and whisk it gently from time to time. Add the sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, place it over medium heat, and let the sugar melt slowly. Once it starts to brown around the edges, slowly move the melted parts towards the centre.
Keep cooking on medium heat until it starts to turn dark in colour and become very fragrant. As soon as it becomes a deep amber colour, very carefully pour in the larger portion of the soy milk, 200 millilitres, and let it come to a boil. The cooked caramel will harden, and that is fine, as it will completely melt into the milk by the time it starts boiling.
Once all the caramel is melted, whisk in the cornflour mixture, and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Remove it from the heat and immediately strain it through a mesh strainer, in case there are still pieces of hardened caramel. Cover the top cling film or a piece of baking parchment, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the caramel cake layers, take a large bowl and sift in the plain flour and the baking powder. Whisk them together, and then add in the coconut sugar. Set it aside for just a minute, and prepare the pan by lining the bottom and sides of a small round baking pan (12 cm) with baking parchment.
Pour the water and vanilla over the dry ingredients and quickly whisk until blended. As soon as the batter is ready, pour it into the prepared pan, tap it once or twice on the counter, and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for 15-20 minutes, checking for doneness early on. As soon as a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, it is done. Remove it from the oven and let the cake cool down in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then invert it on a wire rack, and let it cool down completely.
To make the vegan espresso cookie base, place the vegan block butter into a small bowl and mash it with a fork until somewhat smooth. Add in the coconut sugar and the espresso powder, and blend and mash them together. Sift in the flour and baking powder, mix as much as you can, and add in the soy milk. Blend everything together using a fork or a tiny whisk, and scrape all the batter onto a tiny baking sheet, forming a single cookie that is roughly 12-13 cm in diameter. Bake it in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 8-10 minutes. Let the baked cookie cool down completely.
Once everything is cool to the touch, proceed to assemble the cake.
Take a large bowl, add in the softened vegan block butter, and mix it with an electric mixer on high, until very light and creamy, almost resembling a buttercream, about 3-4 minutes. Do the same with the cooled custard, to make it easier to blend. Without stopping the mixer, start adding the cooled custard, a spoonful at a time, to the vegan butter, until completely combined. Add in the vegan caramel sauce, if using, and briefly blend again.
Level the cake, if needed, and slice it into two layers horizontally. Place the cookie onto the serving platter and top it with a portion of the filling. It does not have to be precise, just make sure you have enough filling to use as frosting. Add one cake layer and top it with another portion of the filling.
Finally, add the second cake layer and frost the entire cake with the remaining custard filling. There is plenty of custard, so the decoration can be as intricate as you like. Place the cake into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, and serve with freshly brewed espresso. Yields 6 servings. © Tina Vesić 2024