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Saturday, June 18, 2011

caramel peanut-topped brownie cake with a twist.

Hands up if you drooled when you saw this caramel peanut-topped brownie cake recipe from Dorie. Ah, I see a lot of hands. Well, good for you! This means that you're human.

I recently managed to purchase some jars (I didn't know if they are suitable for baking but I did it anyway) and my mind kept flashing back to those pictures of cupcake in a jar, pie in a jar... So I combined the two together and there you have it- caramel peanut-topped brownie cake in a jar.

It's unexplainable. Eating out of the jar is just like eating out of a bowl. Just one utensil and a carrier for your calories portable enough to hug close to you, so that the distance from food to mouth is significantly reduced. Is it the laziness of human nature, I wonder?

Baking in a jar is definitely a new thing for me. I made sure I did adequate research and I found that I should never fill a jar with batter more than halfway, among other things. Of course, if the batter is hardly going to rise much, 2/3 of the jar should be fine. That wasn't the case for this recipe though. Despite the fact that I filled each jar only 1/3 of its capacity, it nearly rose to the brim! I had to trim of the tops to make way for the caramel and peanuts. Not that I'm complaining.

But before that, I made a huge terrible unspeakable monstrous mistake! I divided the recipe by 4, to fill just two jars, and I miscalculated the quantity of flour! 1 cup of plain flour is about 140g. Divided by 4, I should get 35g but in my early morning awake-but-not-quite state, I weighed out 45g of flour. One major rule for brownies is to never ever ever put in too much flour. And I broke it. Tragically. The cake was supposed to collapse but because of excess flour, it didn't. Consequently, it was also drier.

To be honest though, I did not expect much out of this brownie. It was more of the novelty of the whole recipe that attracted me. This brownie called for only one source of chocolate- melted bittersweet chocolate, and it is not an outstanding amount either, so I was mentally prepared for a brownie that wouldn't blow my mind off. I've seen recipes calling for three kinds of chocolate in them- cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate and bittersweet/semi-sweet chocolate (sometimes even chocolate chips) to give the brownies that chocolaty boost, hence my low level of expectation of this one. However, my favourite brownie to date consists of only one form of chocolate- cocoa powder, and yes, it's Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies. Understandably, cocoa powder packs tons more chocolate punch than just regular melted chocolate, which is why even with just it alone supplying what gives brownies their name, it has a deep chocolaty flavour I associate with fudge. Really good fudge.

I may have cooked my caramel too far- I wanted it to have a rich flavour that you can only get from sufficient cooking but still remain decently fluid. Unfortunately while it wasn't reduced to a hard lump, it was still too sticky for my liking. At least I got good flavour!

Do you notice the huge discrepancy in the size of the two jars? Guess which one is mine. It's the bigger one! The perks of baking the stuff yourself is being able to save the bigger portion for yourself. Sometimes I make bigger ones for myself on purpose too. Shh... Don't tell anyone. But I wonder if you do that too?

Oh yes, one addition I made was to include plumped, juicy raisins into to brownie batter. I love the combination of chocolate, peanuts and caramel!

Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake
recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
For the brownie cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
½ tsp. vanilla extract
For the topping:
2 cups sugar
½ cup water
1½ tbsp. light corn syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.  Butter an 8-inch springform pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper.  Place the springform pan on a baking sheet.
To make the cake, combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl; whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter and chocolate to a heatproof bowl set over simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are just melted – do not let them get so hot that the butter separates.  Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugars until well blended.  Whisk in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla.  Add in the melted butter and chocolate mixture, and whisk until combined.  Gently whisk in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are just incorporated.  The batter should be thick, smooth and shiny.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and jiggle the pan a bit to even out the batter.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out almost clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 15 minutes, then run a thin knife between the cake and the pan and carefully remove the sides of the springform.  The cake may have puffed up during baking, but don’t be concerned if it develops a crater in the center while cooling.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  When the cake is totally cool, invert it, remove the base of the pan and peel off the parchment paper.  Turn the cake right side up onto a serving platter.
To make the topping, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stirring just to combine the ingredients.  Place the pan over medium-high heat.  Heat, without stirring, until the caramel turns deep amber, 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of your saucepan and the intensity of the heat.  As the sugar is caramelizing, wipe down any splatters on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.  To test the color of the caramel, drop a bit onto a white plate.  Don’t be timid about the color – if it’s too pale, it won’t have much flavor.
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 a heatproof bowl.
You will have more caramel than you need, but you want to get all of the peanuts onto the cake, so spoon all of the peanuts out of the hot caramel and onto the top of the cake.   Pour or spoon enough caramel to cover all the nuts, drizzling a bit over the edges of the cake for presentation.  Allow the topping to set at room temperature, about 20 minutes, before serving.  Keep the leftover caramel at room temperature and save for another use.

Linked to These Chicks Cooked, Sweet Treats Thursday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday and Sweet Indulgences Sunday.


  1. I love this! It looks especially good in the brown-checked jar. Thanks for sharing on A Well-Seasoned Life's Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

  2. Dok sam zivjela u Njemackoj kupovali smo marmeladu koja je bila u ovakvim staklenkama i nikad ih nismo bacali nego sam si ih skupljala za domacu marmeladu :) Bas su mi krasne :)


  3. This recipe is soooo fun. Love that you baked it in a jar :)

  4. I love that these are baked in a jar! I've always wanted to try that.

    Thanks for linking up with Sweet Tooth Friday. I hope to see you again this week.