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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

peanut butter pretzel chocolate cake.

This cake consists of chocolate cake with a crunchy pretzel disk in the middle, glued by peanut butter frosting. This is probably my third or fourth time making this chocolate cake. In between, I've experimented with many of what most consider to be the "best" chocolate cake recipe ever. So right now, this chocolate cake is no longer my favourite, but I chose it because I wanted a cake that was spongey and not too rich, because of all the frosting and pretzels I was going to pile on later. While I admit that I was looking for something not so heavy in taste, this recipe would benefit from using brown sugar instead of white in the cake batter. It would really bring out the flavour of chocolate better. I tried a different recipe for peanut butter frosting this time, but it ended up being too stiff. I would fall back on this one, which is fluffy and easy to spread.

I had a lot of issues with the pretzel disk. I thought I could take a pretzel crust recipe and bake it in a round. When it cooled, I would pick it up and plonk it onto the center of the bottom layer of cake, with a dab of peanut butter frosting to hold it in place. If it had went the way I planned, I would be overjoyed. Jump-over-the-moon happy.

When I made it according to what I had imagined, the pretzel disk downright refused to hold together. I could barely pick it up. I crushed the pretzels even more finely and tried again, with more butter. Didn't work. Finally, I decided to use an egg white. It made perfect sense- egg whites are natural binders. So I added one, disproportionately so, I'm afraid, and although I ended up with a product that stuck together so perfectly I could hold it like a frisbee, the excess moisture from the egg white made the finer pretzel crumbs soggy. I was lucky I didn't bother to crush all the pretzels I used into powder form- I still had a significant portion of them in medium pieces. Those pieces managed to retain their crunch. All in all, I was rather happy, because now I know that the secret to keeping that pretzel disk together is to use egg whites. The correct amount of egg whites, more accurately. Then, you would have a crunchy cohesive crust without having to crush the pretzels to smithereens.

In case you are wondering about those spheres of black on the top of the cake, those are salted caramel chocolate cake balls. My cake baked up unevenly with a skewed dome and I had to trim off quite a fair bit of cake. Not wanting to waste that much cake, I crumbled the extra cake and mixed in a bit of salted caramel sauce, just enough to form the cake into balls. Salted caramel sauce is indeed very handy to have on hand. Almost too convenient, in fact. I can barely stop myself from going to the fridge with a spoon in hand to have a mouthful of the sweet-salty amber liquid.

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