salted caramel

Chicken & Waffles Cake + my blog birthday!

Chicken & Waffles Cake — yellow buttermilk cake, maple frosting, spicy sage caramel // Glazed & Confused

Cue the confetti emojis, it's my first birthday! 

Okay not me, but Glazed & Confused officially turns one today and I'm feeling like a really proud mom. Like, Regina George's mom-level proudness.  A year ago, I didn't really know the exact route I wanted to take with this site, but I felt an overwhelming need to document my rapidly-evolving life. And so so so much has changed since my first posts.

When I started posting, I played it safe, doing that sort of blogging-by-number routine that I figured would generate into success. But something just didn't feel right, it felt hollow. I wasn't putting myself into my posts. For a long time, I struggled on how much of my personality I should put into my posts, fearing that people would be turned off by my personality because let's face it, I'm no Pioneer Woman. I'm an overdramatic, pop culture-obsessed, sometimes awkward, always outlandish 20-year-old boy who wears way too many nipple-exposing shirts and sometimes likes to walk around Walmart in a wig. A risky sell, surely. But then something happened; earlier this year, I had a breakthrough when I stumbled upon Molly's blog. After perusing through her (crazy delicious and personal and honest and hilarious) site, I realized I was missing out on being myself. The boy behind the blog thus far wasn't me at all, and I wasn't happy with it. That day, I made a promise to myself to be the unfiltered Graham that I'd always wanted to be online and it's been absolutely wonderful ever since. I now have absolutely no qualms with doing crazy Graham things, like baking a cake for Harry Styles

The past few months, in particular, have been especially amazing. I've been so passionate about blogging and have been planning so many crazy new posts for you guys. From being hand-selected to be part of a blogger showcase with West Elm to the cool press stuff to the countless relationships I've made online with you guys, I've achieved so much in such a short span of time and I'm so excited to do even bigger and better things in the future. Get ready.  

Chicken & Waffles Cake — yellow buttermilk cake, maple frosting, spicy sage caramel // Glazed & Confused

Okay, enough with the sappy blog reflection talk — let's talk about this cake. You all should know by now that I live for a special occasion, especially one that involves celebratory dessert. But don't be fooled, celebratory desserts aren't only for special occasions. Sometimes I like to celebrate not-so-special occasions, like Mondays or Tuesdays or Wednesdays or.... you get the point. But since today is such an important day, I should have such an important cake, right? And what's more important than a Chicken & Waffles Cake? Uh, nothing. 

I've been thinking about this cake nonstop since the Great Blog Brainstorm of Summer 2014, but couldn't find an occasion appropriate enough for this level of gluttony. I know what you're all thinking right now: "Okay Graham, this is totally absurd." And yes, I know — chicken and waffles in cake form is probably the most unhealthy and seemingly repulsive thing I've posted to date, but I sure as hell know that 99% of you kiiiinda want to taste it. Really, don't knock it until you try it. It's next-level delicious. 

Chicken & Waffles Cake — yellow buttermilk cake, maple frosting, spicy sage caramel // Glazed & Confused
spicy sage caramel sauce // Glazed & Confused

Here's a little rundown of the components of this cake: a buttery and refreshingly-moist yellow buttermilk cake, topped with maple syrup buttercream frosting, a spicy salted caramel with cayenne, black pepper, and lots of sage for some true poultry flavor, topped with actual chicken nuggets and a freaking belgian waffle. (Let's talk about how I used chicken nuggets as a cake garnish... absolutely absurd, indeed.)

So grab your forks and hide your scales, because chicken & waffles cake is a thing now. 

Chicken & Waffles Cake — yellow buttermilk cake, maple frosting, spicy sage caramel // Glazed & Confused

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake 

(via Sweetapolita

  • 4 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter,  room temperature

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9x13" baking pan.  

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, yolks, 1/4 cup of the buttermilk and the vanilla. Whisk to blend well.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt . Add the butter and the remaining 1 cup buttermilk to the dry ingredients and with the mixer on low, blend together. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add the egg mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the side of the bowl and mixing only until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake layers for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto wire rack and let cool completely. 

Maple Syrup Buttercream 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together all of the ingredients on low speed until the butter is broken up and combined. Then, increase the speed to medium-high and mix for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Spicy Sage Caramel 

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp. cayenne 

In a small sauce pan, heat the sugar on medium heat until it dissolved and turns amber in color, mixing constantly. Add the butter and stir continuously until the butter and caramel are combined. Slowly mix in the heavy cream and stir until combined. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in the salt, pepper, sage, and cayenne. Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate until cool. 

Extras + Assembly 

  • cake soak (mix 1/4 cup milk with 1 tsp. butter vanilla extract)
  • chicken nuggets  (you can fry your own or buy them, no judgment)
  • belgian waffles

(If you're making this in two 9-inch rounds, you can ice the cake as you would normally. If you want to make this Milk Bar-style like me, continue on) 

  1. Invert the cake onto a sheet of parchment paper or silpat, and peel off the parchment paper backing. Using the 6-inch cake ring, stamp out two circles from the cake. These will be the top and middle layers. The remaining cake "scrap' will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
  2. Clean the cake ring and place it on a sheet of parchment paper or silpat atop a baking sheet. Use one strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. Put the cake scraps in the ring and use the back of your hand to press the scraps together into a flat even later.
  3. Dunk the pastry brush in the cake soak and give the layer of scraps a good, healthy bath of half of the soak.
  4. Spread one third of the maple syrup frosting over the base layer. Then drizzle with one-third of the caramel evenly over the top of the frosting. Use the back of your spoon to spread the caramel over the layer.
  5. With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top 1/4 inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5-6 inches tall- high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Top with a full circle of cake (save the nicest one for the top layer), brush the rest of the cake soak over this layer, top with another one third of the frosting and one third of the caramel.
  6. Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remainder of the frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or opt for the perfectly flat to. 
  7. Freeze the cake for at least 12 hours to set the cake and filling. (And to make the unmolding much easier.)
  8. Three hours before serving, pull the pan from the freezer, and using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours. (wrapped well in plastic, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)
  9. Once thawed, decorate the cake with chicken nuggets, belgian waffle pieces, and extra caramel. 

Birthday Sundaes for a Sunday Birthday!

Salted Caramel Popcorn Crunch Sundaes // Glazed & Confused

Soooo I'm 20?

That's going to take some getting used to. But yes, today is officially the first day of my third decade on earth! Absolutely terrifying.

Salted Caramel Popcorn Crunch Sundaes // Glazed & Confused

I know it's a cliché, but age has always been one of the more unexplainable components of my life. In grade school, my August birthday meant that I was always the baby of the class. But for much of my teenage years, I always felt like I was more mature than the rest of my classmates. I know, it sounds pretentious. (Spoiler: I was.) Throughout most of high school, the majority of my friends were a year or two older than me. I was used to being that lone 15 year old at the senior party. Once they all went off to college, I was left with only a handful of friends that were actually my age.

Once I graduated from high school, that all seemed to change. After a last minute switch of colleges, I found myself back living at home. It was never my plan, but plans sometimes don't work out. The first two months of my freshman year were horrible —I was depressed, lonely, and just generally pretty damn miserable. As time progressed, I reclaimed my happiness via a new group of friends who just happened to be two years younger than me. It was strange at first, considering that the difference between juniors in high school and freshman in college is so much bigger than a mere difference of numbers, but the connection was a genuine one. 


Despite my whole "I'm mature and over all of you people" act during high school, I really never aged properly, so to speak. Many of my “firsts” were experienced on a far more delayed schedule than others my age. The last few years of my teenage years were also notable for being the years I fell in love with One Direction and became strangely infatuated with Ross Lynch and those terrible teen magazines with thirty free posters of people that nobody over the age of 14 knows. Oh well. Today, I now realize how asinine all of that is. You know, the implied timeline for achieving certain milestones in your life. But in reality, life isn't a game and you don't have to unlock particular achievements in a timely fashion to progress. We just do.

Although I’ve been dreading this day for what seems like forever, I think I’ve finally grown okay with bidding my teenage years adieu. Everybody I have had the conversation with is telling my that my twenties will be the best years of my life. (!!!! please be true) So let’s celebrate!

Salted Caramel Popcorn Crunch Sundaes // Glazed & Confused

 Considering that my birthday falls on a Sunday this year, I’ve decided to make it extra special. I was going to bake my own birthday cake, but then I decided that birthday sundaes would be much more appropriate. So that’s what we’re doing.

Recently, I discovered that an ice cream sundae is probably one of the greatest desserts ever. I live for the contrast between hot and cold, creamy and crunchy, salty and sweet. In fact, I’ve been on such a sundae kick that I somehow had one every single day while I was in New York last month. My favorite was a salted caramel sundae with hot fudge, whipped cream, and popcorn and peanut crunch from ABC Kitchen. I took one bite before deciding that this simple ice cream sundae was one of my favorite desserts of all time. Then I proceeded to knock my mom's water glass all over her. Classic Graham. No worries, we reconciled over our sundae. 

 Make it at home + celebrate with me! 

Popcorn and Peanut Crunch

from Bon Appetit 

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, 
  • 3 cups popped popcorn
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine popcorn and peanuts in a large mixing bowl.

Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water to boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add 6 tablespoons butter and stir until melted. Continue cooking, stirring often, until caramel is a deep amber color, 10-12 minutes.

Pour the hot caramel over popcorn and peanuts and mix to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment and let cool completely. Break into pieces.

Hot Fudge Sauce 

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan until smooth and combined. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer before removing from heat. Mix in butter, chocolate, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Cover to keep warm or pour into a jar and set aside. 

Salty Caramel Ice Cream

(as you can tell, I cheated and bought this at the store. I mean, it's my birthday!) 

from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Danger! This is the dry-burn technique. I don't add water to the sugar before putting it on the heat, as some chefs do. Caramelizing sugar dry means it goes faster, but you have to watch it more closely and be ready with your cream. Here is an overview of what you are going to do:

Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color — like an old penny. When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately but slowly pour about 1/4 cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning-hot sugar. Be careful! It will pop and spit! Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in.

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color (see note above). Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: It will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Pour into frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Salted Caramel Nilla Wafer Banana Pudding

Um, it's August 5th. AUGUST. What the actual [insert expletive of choice here]?!

You see, August is a very busy month in Graham land: tons of birthdays (including mine, I'll be accepting donations of Williams-Sonoma gift cards all month long), the back-to-school mental and emotional preparation, this crazy New Orleans swamp-like heat and humidity. It's just a lot. 

Even though I don't go back to college for another three weeks, this whole end of summer thing is starting to freak me out. But this panic isn't about my schedule or getting back into studying. For the first time in my life, I'm actually *gasp* excited to go back to school. Instead, I'm freaking about more important things. You know, like, how I can possibly whip up every single summery dessert I've been planning on making but haven't actually made yet. 

Case in point: Banana Pudding. 

(Okay, so maybe banana pudding isn't really an exclusively summer dessert, but in my brain it is. So let's just go with it.)


For somebody that eats bananas every single day, you would think that I'd get sick of them after a while. Nah, I still crave them. My craving was so bad that in Europe, I had a slight mental breakdown where I exclaimed that my life onboard our cruise ship was "devoid of all normalcy" because the buffet didn't have bananas readily available for my consumption every day. Dramatic, I know — but hey, I'm a typical Leo. Anyways, this past week my craving was so bad that I just had to cure it with banana pudding. 

True to form, I didn't settle for just any straight-up banana pudding. Nope, I decided to throw in some extra calories and a heavy dash of totally unnecessary amazingness. The pudding? It's infused with Nilla Wafers. (I firmly believe that infusing things in milk is the next frontier, y'all.) The whipped cream? Perfectly flavored with salty salted caramel. And if that's not enough for my fellow salted caramel lovers: don't worry, there's some extra in between the layers too. 


Anybody that knows me personally knows that I absolutely loathe cake mixes and premade cookie doughs. Don't even get me started on that "just add water" sorcery. Uh, how is that even possible? (No please, let me know.) HOWEVER, I have this strange love for trashy Paula Deen-style banana pudding. Said pudding involves only 4 ingredients: cream cheese, condensed milk, cold milk, and instant vanilla pudding mix. Pudding isn't even hard to make from scratch.

I would normally feel overwhelmed with guilt for cheating on my own morals, but this stuff, it's just too good. Feel free to call me Honey Boo Boo from now on; I wont mind, I'm too busy stuffing my face with this banana pudding, 

Nilla Wafer Pudding 

  • 1 box Nilla Wafers 
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 14 oz. can condensed milk (I only used 3/4 of the can)
  • 1 5 oz. package instant vanilla pudding mix 

In a medium bowl, pour milk over Nilla Wafers. Let steep for 1 hour before straining and refrigerating until cold.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Mix in the condensed milk to combine until smooth. Finally, add the pudding mix and infused milk. Beat until thickened. 


Salted Caramel Whipped Cream 

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel (Note: you can use jarred sauce or make your own.)
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla paste or extract 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together all ingredients until soft peaks form. Set aside. 


Extras + Assembly 

  • 1 box Nilla Wafers
  • 5 bananas, sliced
  • more salted caramel 

In a trifle dish or individual mason jars, layer:

  1. Nilla Wafers
  2. Salted Caramel
  3. Sliced bananas 
  4. Pudding 
  5. Salted Caramel Whipped Cream
  6. Repeat all that good stuff one more time.
  7. Top with crushed wafers and salted caramel.