Monday, June 11, 2007

Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

This is my second bake from my new book by Dorie Greenspan (check previous post). If you have the book, you will see how awfully similar this looks like to the one pictured in the book, except that I made these in 3" molds and this is also, by far, one of the most mouth-watering photo you'd flipped through in it.
The brownie dipped in the center after baking, as told to expect in the book (these tips are really helpful!). The brownies baked quickly and eased off their molds with nary an effort. The only problem I encountered was with the caramel getting too candy-like, which might have been caused by spending too much time in the heat. On the same line of thinking, I considered that maybe this is meant to be eaten when warm, when the caramel hasn't settled and is still gooey, chewy, and tooth-stickingly delightful. But as I think that it stultified the versatility of this dessert, I added a little more warmed cream and it gave the sauce a better consistency; it flowed freely and wonderfully onto the top and sides of the cake while maintaining its chewy characteristic.
Together, they make an interesting myriad of texture and taste. The brownie cake has a chewy characteristic, although I feel that it lacks a certain definitive taste; on its own, I give credit to it for being not too sweet that in fact, I can hardly trace any sweetness at all. The peanuts would lose its crunch when added into the warm caramel, but don't fret, once cooled, the peanuts should have its crunchiness back.

Caramel- Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

For the brownie:
1 C all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2C unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs
1/2C packed light brown sugar
1/4C sugar
3T light corn syrup
1/2 t vanilla extract

For the topping:
2C sugar
1/2 C water
11/2T light corn syrup
2/3C heavy cream
2T unsalted butter, room temp
1C salted peanuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8" springform pan, dust with flour and line with wax paper. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt together.
2. Melt butter and chocolate together over a double boiler or microwave, whisk until smooth. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars together until well blended, add in the corn syrup and vanilla. Whisk in the melted butter and chocolate. Lastly, still using the whisk, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. The batter will be thick, smooth and shiny. Pour the batter onto the prepared pan, give a slight jiggle to even out the batter.
4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Make the topping:

1. Put the 1st 3 ingredients in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, and heat over medium high.
2. Without stirring, let the caramel turn a deep amber (any lighter will not have much taste), 5-10minutes. Watch carefully as there's only but a thin line between achieving a dark caramel taste and burnt metallic taste.
3. Lower the heat and pour in the cream and butter. Use a long handled wooden spoon and mittens when you do this, the caramel will react aggressively and create bubble and spatter.
4. Stir to calm down the caramel and dissolve any lumps. Stir in the peanuts and remove from heat. (Greenspan instructs to pour into a Pyrex measuring cup but I prefer leaving the sauce in the pan since it makes it easier to warm it when the caramel becomes candy-like and too stiff to flow).


Place cooled brownie cake on a platter, big enough for the caramel to flow onto. Pour the warm caramel, getting all the peanuts. There would be an excess in the caramel, this may be stored in the chiller and used on ice creams, cakes and mousses. When it gets too stiff, simply heat in a microwave and use immediately.

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