Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

Yes, this is one of THE Dorie Greenspan cakes.  And, believe it or not, this is not my first time making this.  The first time I made it, about six or seven months ago for a friend’s birthday, I kind of ruined it.  And then I tried taking pictures of it, with no training or idea of what I was doing, and it was a complete travesty.  I was so frustrated.  I had spent about half the day working on this thing, and then I overcooked the caramel….leading to a burnt sugar kind of taste.  Now, that might be good in some circumstances (think s’mores with burnt marshmallows…I’m a fan), but, unfortunately, with this cake….scorched caramel is not good.

So….on to Round #2.  Unabashed and determined to get it right this time, I entered the kitchen with one key word….”Focus”.  No TV in the background, no Pandora radio playing from my laptop, no snacking on the cake batter, no texting while baking.  It was Game On.  I watched the caramel like a hawk, testing the color every 20 seconds or so. Because, as you will see, once the caramel starts turning color….it goes quickly.  Dorie says to let it get to a deep amber color…but I let mine get to the color of a light beer before I added the cream and butter.  This did the trick.  I don’t know, maybe it’s my stove that seems to heat it unevenly, but I erred on the side of underflavored caramel in order to salvage the entire thing.  Caramel….it’s simply a beautiful thing when done correctly.

Ultimately, this cake is not too challenging to throw together, if you can get a handle on the caramel.  In fact, the brownie cake part of it is more simple than a lot of the other recipes I have posted.  It’s just the caramel.  But you can do it.  You can and you will.

Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

Servings: 10

Ingredients

For the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped **(I just used Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips….oh Ghiradelli…..sigh….)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 and 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup salted peanuts

Instructions

1.  For the cake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Butter an 8-inch round springform pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper.

3.  Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

4.  Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

5. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water.

6.  Add the butter and chocolate to the bowl and heat, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are just melted.

7.  Remove the bowl from the heat.

8. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars together until well blended.

9. Whisk in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla.

10.  Whisk in the melted butter and chocolate.

11. Still working with a whisk, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

12.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread until even.

13.  Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean.

14.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the cake for 15 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the pan and remove the sides of the pan.  Cool the cake to room temperature.

15.  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.

16. For the topping: Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir just to combine the ingredients, and put the pan over medium-high heat on the stove.

17.  Heat, without stirring, until the caramel turns deep amber (mine was the color of light beer….test it on a white plate if you are unsure), about 5 to 10 minutes (depending on your stove and pan).  As the sugar is caramelizing, wipe down any splatters on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.

18.  Lower the heat a bit, and standing back from the saucepan, add the cream and butter.  (BE CAREFUL…IT IS HOT AND WILL BUBBLE AGGRESSIVELY.)

19.  When the caramel calms down a bit, stir to dissolve any lumps.

20.  Add the peanuts and stir.  Transfer the hot mixture to a 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup or a heat-proof bowl.

21.  Spoon the peanuts over the top of the cake, and then pour enough caramel to cover the peanuts and top of cake completely.  You may have leftover caramel.

22.  Allow the topping to set at room temperature about 20 minutes or so.

23.  When ready to serve, run a blunt knife around the edge of the springform pan and remove the sides.

Source:  Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

November 9, 2010 - 8:51 am

Lauren at KeepItSweet - this looks amazing! i can see why you’d need to get the caramel just right

November 9, 2010 - 8:57 am

Lauren Zabaneh - this looks AMAZING! Chocolate and peanut and caramel have to be my favorite sweets combo. I get nervous with caramel too…therefore I dont’ do it much, but you’ve inspired me to give it another shot. This looks insanely good. Oh! I love the new look of your blog too. Really cute.

November 11, 2010 - 6:13 pm

natalie (the sweets life) - heck yes i will! WOW!

November 11, 2010 - 9:02 pm

LimeCake - This is a beautiful ‘mistake’. I love how it looks and it looks delicious!

November 15, 2010 - 1:37 am

Konstant Kraver - This looks so yummy , two of my favourite things caramel and peanut butter, I am thrilled to have found this blog on Foodbuzz and I would like to present you with a “Lovely Blog Award”…It will be on my blog later where you can pick it up and follow the directions.

November 15, 2010 - 6:40 am

Crustabakes - Totally agreeing with you on the caramel issues. I am such a wimp when it comes to making caramel. My caramel are always underdone. But i rather have them underdone, rather than overdone. LOL.

November 27, 2010 - 10:23 am

fooddreamer - It’s beautiful, so your focus this time obviously served you well! Burnt sugar on creme brulee…good. Burnt sugar in caramel…not so much.

November 30, 2010 - 10:28 am

Peanut Caramel Topped Brownies « Crustabakes - [...] Brownie Cake (Recipe taken from The Curvy Carrot) thanks so much for [...]

April 14, 2014 - 2:11 pm

doyle - I made this recently when some friends came to visit and it turned out really well. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

Rich Coffeecake with Sweet Cheese Filling

Now….that’s a title, isn’t it?

And, just to let you know, this is some coffeecake, too.  I couldn’t wait to post it.  Especially on a Sunday morning.  What a perfect day for a coffeecake.

I came across this recipe a while back, but, to be honest with you, the amount of time needed during the preparation of this treat did not satisfy my need for instant gratification when it comes to cravings.  Also, the word “yeast” in the ingredient list scared me off a little.  But, as I am learning more about yeast doughs, I am pleasantly surprised that even I (more of a cook it seems than a baker…..) can manage to create palatable breads/doughs/etc with yeast.  And if I can do it?  You can, too!

Now, this recipe takes some time.  It’s not good if you want it for Sunday morning breakfast, and it’s already 9am.  I pre-planned to have this Saturday morning, around 10 or 11 am or so, so I went ahead and prepped the night before.  The dough definitely needs the 3-4 hours to rise, then another 1 1/2 to 2 hours to rise again when you twist it.  Now, I wish I had a nice picture of the twisting, however, by the time I did all this, it was night and dark outside (I take my pictures in natural light….).  And when I had it in the oven, baking away and smelling divine, I realized that I had completely forgotten to take the picture. So I owe you.

So, as I write this, I just want to let you know that I ate half of the coffeecake today.  Half of it.  It’s that good……

Rich Coffeecake with Sweet Cheese Filling

Servings: 8-10 (makes 2 coffeecakes)*****You can half the ingredients if you only want one coffeecake.

Ingredients

For the coffeecake dough:

2 envelopes instant yeast (about 4 and 1/2 teaspoons)

1/4 warm water (about 110 degrees)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk (I used whole…because I was going ALL out on my fat content, of course…..)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 and 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces and softened but still cool

For the sweet cheese filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 and 1/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the streusel topping:

1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

For the icing:

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 and 1/2 teaspoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the egg wash:

1 large egg

1 teaspoon heavy cream

Instructions:

1. For the dough: Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer; stir to dissolve.

2.  Add the sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla; attach the paddle and mix at the lowest speed until well combined.

3.  Add 3 and 1/4 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing at low speed until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute.

4.  Increase the speed to medium-low and add the butter pieces 1 at a time, beating until incorporated, about 20 seconds after each addition (total mixing time should be about 5 minutes.)

5.  Replace the paddle with the dough hook and add the remaining 1 cup flour; knead at medium-low speed until soft and smooth, about 5 minutes longer.

6.  Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough tightens up slightly, about 2 minutes longer.

7. Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.

8.  Let the dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 3 to 4 hours.

9.  Press down the dough, replace the plastic and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 or up to 24 hours (aka overnight).  If you are in a rush, you can spread the dough about 1 inch thick on a baking sheet, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours.

10.  For the filling: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer at high speed until smooth, 2 to 4 minutes.

11.  Add the lemon zest, egg and vanilla.

12.  Reduce the speed to medium and continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once, until incorporated, about 1 minute.

13.  Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and chill thoroughly before using.

14.  For the streusel: Mix the brown sugar and granulated sugars, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.

15.  Add the butter and toss to coat.

16.  Pinch the butter chunks and dry mixture between your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly (fun part).

17.  Chill thoroughly before using.

18.  For the icing: Whisk all the ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth.

19.  When you are ready to shape the coffeecake, remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough in half.

20.  Shape the dough into a log about 8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.

21.  Roll the dough evenly into a 40-inch rope about 1 inch in diameter.

22.  With your fingers together, gently press the log to flatten slightly into a 1 and 1/2-inch-wide strip.

23.  Using both hands, twist the rope.

24.  Loosely coil the rope in a spiral pattern (think….it should look like the yellow brick road with all the Munchkins standing by when Dorothy starts her journey), leaving a 1/4-inch space between the coils.

25.  Tuck the end under and pinch to secure.

26.  Place the coil on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.

27. Proof until slightly puffed, 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. ***See step #31 if you are going to make this now, so you can get the oven pre-heated while you do the next steps.

28. For the egg wash: In a small bowl, whisk the egg and heavy cream together.

29. Brush with the egg wash and place the filling over the center of the top, leaving a 1 and 1/2-inch border around the perimeter (WARNING: this is very tricky and mine ending up going everywhere……which actually led to delicious cheese filling around the edges of the coffeecake instead of just the center…..).

30.  Sprinkle the top with streusel.

31.  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

32.  Working with and baking one coffeecake at a time, bake until deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

33.  Slide the parchment with the coffeecake onto a wire rack and cool at least 20 minutes.

34.  Drizzle the icing over the cooled cake and serve.

Source: Baking Illustrated.

November 7, 2010 - 1:37 pm

Lauren at KeepItSweet - i should try this recipe to get over my fear of yeast, based on this post, i think it would be worth it!

November 7, 2010 - 3:13 pm

Monica - This looks wonderful. I appreciate all of the detail in your step-by-step directions. You make this seem very doable. Can’t wait to try it.

November 7, 2010 - 3:31 pm

Brie - Sounds yummy!! Cant wait to make this!! :)

November 7, 2010 - 5:30 pm

Rachel - Now that’s rich!
I’ve been afraid of yeast in the past too but I’m learning to love it. Looks like this coffee cake is worth the time and effort – then you can sit and relax while you enjoy a piece!

November 7, 2010 - 5:34 pm

Joanne - I guess sometimes the good things in life are worth waiting for. And this is so one of them.

November 7, 2010 - 8:32 pm

Rebecca - This looks just like a cream cheese filled king cake! Yummy. Makes me miss New Orleans.

November 8, 2010 - 12:32 am

Kathy - Panini Happy - It always seems as if the best breakfast treats take till lunch to finish! Always worth it, though – this coffee cake looks divine!

November 8, 2010 - 8:43 am

Carine - Oh…Good lord!!! saliva drizzling…….

December 2, 2010 - 3:57 pm

Shawn - I made this for Thanksgiving breakfast and it was a big hit. Loved it!!!!

February 2, 2011 - 12:12 am

Gianna - This sounds so delicious! I love coffeecakes. I’m going to try this and sprinkle mini chocolate chips on one.

June 23, 2011 - 5:06 pm

Rich Coffeecake with Sweet Cheese Filling « Bittersweet Baker - [...] (From Baking Illustrated, via The Curvy Carrot) [...]

Candy Caramel Corn Snack

Yeah, I didn’t know what to call this one.

I wanted to take a fun snack to a recent party, but I wanted something salty and sweet.  I immediately thought of my usual Caramel Corn recipe, but I wanted to jazz it up a little.  And this is an ode to my college girlfriends.  When we lived in the dorms and would have movie nights, we would inevitably pop a whole bunch of popcorn in our dorm rooms, but we always wanted something sweet to go with it.  One night, with billions of extra meal points to use up, we raided the cafeteria and bought a whole bunch of peanut M&M’s to have with our popcorn.  We ended up just throwing in the M&M’s with the popcorn and ate it all together in the big bowl.

And from that point on, a tradition was born.

So, in order to be a little festive, I added some candy corn (awesome!!) and some salted peanuts to the mix.  I tossed in some regular M&M’s (didn’t want to go overboard on the peanuts, of course).  Together?  This combination was a giant hit at the party.  Everyone loved it!

Candy Caramel Corn Snack

Servings:  A LOT! 20 cups

Caramel Corn

Makes about 20 cups

Ingredients

20 cups popped popcorn

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup corn syrup

2 cups packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 and 1/2 cups salted peanuts

2 cups M&M’s

1 and 1/2 cups candy corn

Instructions

1. Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.

2.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

3. Add the corn syrup and brown sugar, mixing well.

4. Bring and maintain mixture to a boil without stirring for 5 minutes.

5. Add the salt, baking soda, and vanilla to the boiling mixture and immediately remove from heat, stirring rapidly.

6. Pour the hot liquid over the popcorn (be careful!!)

7. Place the covered popcorn in a deep large pan or stainless steel bowl.

8. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Add the salted peanuts to the bowl while stirring the caramel corn when you still have 15 minutes left

9. Let cool until barely warm, add the candy corn and M&M’s, and enjoy!!!

A Curvy Carrot original.  Caramel Corn originally from my mother.

November 5, 2010 - 9:26 am

Jenny @ StrungByColor - Still eating the leftovers of this from the party, Shan. Thanks for remembering my love for peanuts + m&m’s in popcorn…you’re so good. Let’s go back to the Foster Harper days more often. :)

November 5, 2010 - 2:22 pm

Rachel - I adore candy corn – I have to buy a bag of it every Halloween. Adding it to popcorn…plus peanuts and m&m’s…sounds like paradise!

April 30, 2013 - 2:49 pm

Candy Caramel Corn Snack - [...] For recipe visit the source:  thecurvycarrot.com [...]

October 5, 2013 - 1:26 pm

Best Candy-Studded Treats - [...] little salt with your sweet? Try this clever take on caramel corn, which incorporates candy of all [...]

October 17, 2013 - 6:08 pm

Mexico Wedding Expert » Tempting Caramel Corn Roundup - [...] some, adding candy corn, M & Ms, and peanuts to caramel corn is overkill. I am not one of those [...]

October 17, 2013 - 10:23 pm

Tempting Caramel Corn Roundup | Wedding Gifts Tips - [...] some, adding candy corn, M Ms, and peanuts to caramel corn is overkill. I am not one of those [...]