I was thrilled to discover the season’s first blood oranges this week at Whole Foods. The ruby hue and the complexity of flavor of these coveted citrus fruits is always inspiring to me. 

It wasn’t long before I decided that I must play with the classic flavor combination of orange and cardamom, but it was by complete accident that I ended up with this delish butterscotch sauce. On a completely different mission, I was toying with recipes for non-dairy coconut caramel. When I realized I was running low on cane sugar, I decided to substitute brown sugar. To my surprise and delight, I ended up with an incredible recipe for coconut butterscotch sauce, and it was just the perfect pairing for this spice cake.

I love it when accidents in the kitchen turn out to be a creation that is beyond my original vision! Just one more reason to try new things. You never know when you might stumble upon your next delicious accident.

Dairy-Free Butterscotch Sauce: This recipe may seem a little intimidating if you have never made butterscotch or caramel, but i promise it is very simple. You don’t even need a candy thermometer. It will need to simmer on low for up to an hour, but it makes a little more than a cup, so you will likely have lots of sweet leftovers to drizzle over your next bowl of ice cream. You might like to make it ahead, refrigerate, then warm it up to pour over cake just before serving.

  •  1 1/2 cups coconut milk fat (2 13.5 oz cans of unsweetened full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight, do not shake)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Open both cans or refrigerated coconut milk. You will notice that the fat has separated from the water and risen to the top. It is now more of a solid. Gently scoop out 1 1/2 cups of the fat out taking care not to include any of the coconut water from the bottom of the can.

In a sauce pan combine coconut milk fat, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk together then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once you reach a boil, reduce the  heat to maintain a low boil with rolling bubbles and cook for an additional 45 minutes. The liquid will reduce 50% or more and get deeper in color. The longer you reduce it, the thick it will become upon cooling.

Let cool slightly before drizzling over top of cake, or refrigerate for up to two weeks, and warm when you are ready to use.

Note: If your butterscotch begins to separate and seems a little textured, reduce heat a little, but don’t worry too much. Mine separated right at the end of the 45 minutes and I thought it was ruined. Thankfully I cooled it in the refrigerator overnight and by morning it was perfect!

Lillabee Blood Orange Cardamom Spice Cake:
This cake is simple to make and it is absolutely gorgeous with or without the butterscotch sauce. The geometric shape of the orange slices and the lovely jewel tones make it a show stopper with little effort. In these photos, I divided the batter into three small 3″ spring form baking pans, but it would also be lovely in one 9″ round pan or a 9″x9″ square baking pan. You could even bake in a loaf pan and serve as tea bread.

  • Lillabee Classic Yellow Cake Mix + ingredients listed on the back (milk,vanilla, butter, 2 eggs)
  • 2-3 blood oranges (1 T. zest + thin horizontal slices of peeled oranges)
  • 2 tsp blood orange juice
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  1. Zest 1 Tablespoon of orange zest and set aside. Peel and slice blood oranges thin and horizontally. Arrange in the bottom of a greased baking pan.
  2. Empty contents of flour mixture into a bowl and whisk in cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
  3. Follow directions on the back of the Classic Yellow Cake Mix box and add in orange zest when you cream butter and sugar together. Substitute 2 tsp of blood orange juice for the 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Pour batter in pan over the orange slices.
  4. Bake as directed. Test with a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake before removing from the oven. When toothpick comes out clean, it’s done.
  5. Let cool on a on wire cooling rack for 5 minutes, then turn baking pan upside down to release the cake. Let cool completely and transfer to your serving plate before topping with warm butterscotch.

Happy Baking from the Lillabee Hive!