TWD: Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake
Peanuts, caramel, chocolate cake . . . what's not to love? This week's Tuesdays with Dorie entry was a piece of cake, literally, and although I left it till the eleventh hour, I had no trouble pulling it together in a hurry.
I made a few minor modifications to save time:
- I melted the butter and chocolate in the microwave instead of a double boiler. If you want to do it this way, just chop the chocolate (or use chips), slice the butter, and combine both in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave on high, uncovered, for 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Return to microwave and heat for 15 seconds; stir. Repeat at 15-second intervals until the chocolate and butter are melted. Be careful not to overheat or the chocolate will scorch - don't judge doneness based on appearance; the chocolate pieces may hold their shape until stirred.
- To cut baking time, I baked the batter in 6 jumbo muffin cups rather than a springform pan. For easy removal of the finished cakes, I made slings out of strips of parchment, placed these into the cups, sprayed them with nonstick oil spray, then spooned batter in. Make sure your slings are long enough to accommodate the batter as it rises.
- I halved the ingredients in the caramel sauce, which gave me the perfect amount of sauce to fill my six little cakes. I also stirred in an extra 1/4 cup of peanuts. Next time I think I'll add an additional tablespoon of butter (love that butter!).
It's a good idea to follow Dorie's directions to mix this batter by hand. Overmixing the eggs will cause you to lose some of the density and chewiness of the brownie cake. Whisk the eggs together with the sugars till the sugar is dissolved but not so vigorously that the eggs are frothy but not foamy.
Drizzle the melted chocolate-butter mixture into the whisked eggs in a thin stream, whisking the chocolate into the eggs. If the chocolate is too hot at this stage, you risk cooking your eggs, so be sure to let it cool a bit before adding.
Whisk the flour mixture in until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, and spoon into the prepared baking pan. Adjust the slings if necessary so that they rise above the batter on both sides.
The cakes baked up around significant craters. I considered this a serendipitous outcome, because it created a perfect cavity to hold the peanut-and-caramel topping.
One of the cakelets broke as I took it out of the pan, so I put that one in its own serving dish to help keep it together. The rest I arranged on a plate to await their caramel-peanut topping.
The caramel itself was a delight to work with. I halved all the ingredients and had no trouble at all with it. The trick is to use a small saucepan with steep sides, so that when it bubbles up at the addition of the cream, everything stays within the pot. Also, don't leave it alone for a moment! It takes a while to turn color initially, but once the melted sugar starts to brown, the process is rapid and your caramel will go from perfect to burned in a split second.
The end product is quite sweet, and the general consensus around our table was that it might benefit from an accompanying scoop of peanut butter ice cream. Alternatively, I might fancy this up a little by piping in a layer of peanut-butter silk before topping with the caramel, Snickers-style.
I can see baking a batch of these cakelets and keeping them in the freezer for an impressive dinner-party dessert at short notice - the caramel takes very little time and effort to whip up, and there's no denying its impressive presentation.
Want to make this dessert yourself? You can find it on pages 264 and 265 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.