Happy Birthday To Matt!!! These were my friend Matt's choice for his birthday week, so I hope he likes them. I had trouble with the original recipe for the cake part, so I ended up using two cake mixes combined to get the right flavor. I used Duncan Hines' Caramel and French Vanilla cake mixes and baked them according to the box's directions, which turned out really well.
Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 cup light brown sugar
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
Put sugar, egg whites and salt into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees). Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes total. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and continue beating 1 minute to reduce air bubbles.
I garnished with some natural sugar crystals and melted sugar chips. I just put a thin layer of sugar on parchment paper under the broiler until it melted and browned. When it cooled, I cracked it into little pieces to simulate the "crack" on top of creme brulee.