Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TWD - Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

I missed last week due to being excessively busy. I wasn't going to miss this week. This week's recipe is Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake. Picked by Tammy at Wee Treats by Tammy.

I'd never made caramel before, so I was excited. I got started late (Monday night at 9pm). I knew I could get it all done in time! Except ... oops ... "cool to room temperature". Maybe I'll be a little late on this one. (it's still Tuesday as I post this)

I knew I needed some bitter-sweet chocolate. And I knew that was going to be the hardest ingredient to find in this town. Fortunately, I got lucky. The first place I went had it. Naturally, they'd have baking chocolate ... they are both a baking supply store and a cake bakery. They use what they sell. Their cakes are good!

Running down the list of ingredients, I notice that we're out of eggs ... again. By All That Festers In Dank Places ... how do we manage to run out of eggs over and over and over? Nevermind, we do.

Fortunately, the little sari sari store next to us was open and had eggs in stock. Whew. Problem averted.


I was also leery of using the "heavy cream" that was available in town. It's a strange, very, very white thick mixture of dairy, soy proteins, and emulsifiers. Made to live here and work. It did work in the caramel. So, I guess all is good.

It turned out well and I'm planning to make a second so that everyone can have their fill.

Procedure

So very, very easy. Melt the chocolate and butter. Whisk together the eggs and sugars. Then, whisk in the vanilla and corn syrup. When all is incorporated nicely, whisk in the melted butter and chocolate (it had cooled enough, I didn't even have to temper it).

Then, still with a whisk, mix in the dry ingredients. Done! ... with the cake. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes at 350F (175C). Check for completion as one always does (thin knife or toothpick) with cakes and brownies.

Making caramel was easy. I thought I was going to completely screw it up. Turns out, I'd watched enough episodes of Good Eats that I didn't fail on my first try. I'd never made caramel before, so I was worried. The result was very good. I realized only after I finished it that I could have whipped out my Alton Brown-like infrared thermometer with aiming laser ... and checked the caramel's progress with something accurate ... like numbers. Next time.

Once the cake is done, let it cool to room temperature. Take it out of the spring form, clean the spring form, and put the cake back in. You use the sides to hold in the caramel and sugar while they cool. Spoon the caramel-covered peanuts onto the top of the cake. Then, pour caramel over to cover.

Let cool ... devour.

Note: As with a couple of previous recipes, the cooking time was significantly different from what the book said. The book called for 40 to 45 minutes, my cake was done at 30 minutes. So, if you're playing along at home ... check and check again. Some of these recipes have listed times that just don't seem right.

Test Results

This didn't make a very large cake. So, there wasn't a lot to go around.

Primary Test Group: Marasa! Oh, this is so great!

Test Group C: This cake is dangerous. It is so bad for me. Do you have more?

Test Group M: Skipped because he doesn't like sweets or chocolate cakes much.

Potential Improvements

Thicker caramel, thicker cake. Next time I make this, and I will, I'm going to make sure that the caramel is heated to the point where it will solidify when brought back down to room temperature.

Potential Variations

I like the basic chocolate and caramel combination. The topping could be something besides peanuts. Perhaps walnuts? Not sure.

Conclusions

Definite winner. Make again without question.

13 comments:

Peggy said...

Great job! Mine was a train wreck. I would like to make this cake again, but may cheat on the caramel next time!

James said...

Don't cheat, Peggy! You can do it. Just keep trying until you do.

I think the real key with caramel is DON'T STIR.

Tammy said...

I'm pleased you liked it, thanks for making my pick!

Marthe said...

Your cake looks great!! I absolutely loved it!

James said...

Thanks, Marthe! We loved it, too. :)

Although, I'm not sure my family looked at it long enough to notice. It was consumed very quickly.

pinkstripes said...

I'm not sure about Test Group M. Are they human? :P How can you not like chocolate?

Barbara said...

Looks lovely! I'm glad it was a hit.

I agree, DON'T STIR is very important. The part I'm still working on myself is stopping the cooking at the right point -- when it has lots of flavor but isn't too dark.

I bet you could use evaporated milk in place of cream for this. Do they have that in your stores? And I think the caramel is supposed to stay gooey, but if you don't like that, maybe try adding less cream. I had put a few drops of the caramel on a plate before adding the cream, and they ended up hard and brittle.

James said...

Good idea on the evaporated milk. Yeah, I'll try that. We definitely have that here. Filipinos love to use it in a lot of dessert dishes.

I want the caramel to solidify to the point where one finds Kraft caramels in the stores. Maybe a little less solid than that.

When I get a chance, I'm going to make a few batches of caramel and use my infrared thermometer to determine with each when to stop cooking.

James said...

pinkstripes: The leader of Test Team M is human, I guess. Hahahaha!

Jules Someone said...

Glad you enjoyed it! Nice work.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

It was a hit at our house too!

n.o.e said...

I used macadamia nuts for this cake and it was really a great combination with the caramel and chocolate. I'm glad you found the caramel easy - I think I need a long break from hot sugar. Although I loved the toffee taste of my caramel.
Nancy

James said...

I _love_ macadamia nuts ... yum!