We had a birthday in our house recently, and I decided it was a good occasion to make one of the cakes I had marked off from Dorie’s book. The Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie cake had all the ingredients that I usually love, so it was high on my list. Also, I had never made caramel before so I was curious to take on the challenge.
The cake part of the recipe was fairly easy – except I realized I didn’t have enough bittersweet chocolate so I substituted some unsweetened in its place. The caramel part was another story. It took forever for my caramel to change color at all. The recipe says that it would take 5 to 10 minutes before you notice a change in color. Nope. Not me. It took about 20 minutes before it started doing anything. In hindsight, I should have probably increased the heat to compensate for my old trashy oven, but I was too nervous to screw it up. So once it finally started changing, it happened all at once. I added the cream and butter and the whole thing went INSANE. It got all over my oven, all over my pan and myself. Seriously, I made a huge mess. And then the caramel that got on the elements set on fire. So yeah, not so successful for a first attempt.
Once I cleaned up a little and put out the fire, the caramel actually looked reasonably edible. So, I added the peanuts and managed to follow the rest of the recipe without incident. Although, the caramel was not that easy to work with, and it made quite the mess on my kitchen counters, pans, racks etc.
The final result looked quite nice, and a lot like the picture from the book, so I was happy about that. The taste was enjoyable, but I found the cake to be more dry than I had expected. I think if I make this again, I would use a different cake recipe, maybe even a brownie recipe, instead of this one. As for the caramel, if I make it again i would use a MUCH larger saucepan to try to avoid having to take apart my oven and scrape caramel off everything.
Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake
(Source: Baking: My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 stick(8 TBSP) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
3 TBSP light corn syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
½ cup water
1 ½ TBSP light corn syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup salted peanuts
- Butter and flour a 8 inch springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. Melt chocolate and butter together using a double boiler.
- In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugars together until well blended. Whisk in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla. Whisk in the melted butter and chocolate. Still working with a whisk, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. You will have a thick, smooth, shiny batter. Pour the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan a bit to even out the batter.
- Bake the cake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out almost clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool he cake for 15 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the pan and remove the sides of the pan. During baking the cake probably will have puffed to the top of the pan don’t be concerned if tit sinks a little or it if develops a crater in the centre. Cool the cake to room temperature.
- When the cake is completely cool, invert it, remove the base of the pan and peel off the paper. Wash and dry the springform pan, and return the cake to it right side up. Refasten the sides around the cake.
To make the topping:
- Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, stir just to combine the ingredients and then put the pan over medium-high heat. Heat, without stirring , until the caramel turns deep amber., 5-10 minutes. Lower the heat a bit and, standing back from the saucepan add the cream and butter. When the spatters are less vehement, stir to calm down the caramel and dissolve any lumps. Stir in the peanuts, and pour the caramel and peanuts into a 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup or heat proof bowl.
- Spoon the peanuts on top of the cake. Then spoon the caramel on top of those. You’ll have a layer about ¼ inch high. Allow the topping to set to room temperature-about 20 minutes before serving.
- To serve, run a blunt knife between the caramel and the pan and simply remove the sides of the springform. If this isn’t the case, hit the sides with some hot air from a hairdryer or wrap the sides in a towel moistened with hot water.