I’ve had two requests for the recipe for “that chocolate cake with the caramel icing” in the past couple of weeks. If you’re from Morganza or the Pointe Coupee Parish area, you know that’s the legendary Morganza Cake made popular by local ladies who prepared cakes for church fairs, dinners and meetings.
I found out about this cake years ago when Tommy Simmons, retired Food editor for The Advocate, and I judged a cake contest in New Roads. A Morganza Cake was entered and won hands down as the first-place winner. It’s a devil’s food cake made with a mix and topped with a homemade caramel icing.
Caramel can be tricky the first time you make it. You have to cook the sugar mixture until it caramelizes and comes to a temperature of 237 degrees, or soft-ball stage, on a candy thermometer. When it reaches that stage, it’s removed from the heat and stirred continuously until it thickens enough to spread on the cake. It takes a few minutes of constant stirring before it’s ready to spread. As the mixture cools, with constant stirring , it gets creamy, thickens and begins to set. It’s exactly like making a praline.
When the mixture is thick enough to spread, quickly spread it between the layers as a filling and also frost, or ice, the top and sides of the cake. Once the mixture gets cold, it might crystallize rather than stay creamy and you might have to reheat the pot, so try to avoid that.
Invest in a candy thermometer if you don’t have one; even the inexpensive ones work fine, and use a heavy saucepan to make the caramel.