TWD: Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

I’m torn this week, for a variety of reasons.  First, the idea that it took me three days to create this beautiful dessert put a bad taste in my mouth.  I just don’t bake that way. It’s not fun. And if I don’t have fun baking then the guilt of eating the finished product is just too great to justify putting away half a cake at one sitting.

But I persevered. I shopped Sunday, baked the cake Monday, and finished the topping Tuesday afternoon after the world’s best handyman finished repairing my kitchen light. And I gotta be honest, my tiny little cakes are just not as perfect as the photo and title of the dessert suggest it should taste.

the look good, but

I took the advice of my fellow bakers at TWD and halved the recipe, and then baked it in ramekins to avoid the treacherous grease-the-pan-then-line-the-bottom-with-a-circular-piece-of-parchment-paper-process. The cake is delicious. It’s light, the perfect balance of cake and chocolate.  I’d make them again in a heartbeat, and probably eat one still warm from the oven with melty whip cream on top.

Today I tackled the topping: a caramel made from cooked sugar and mixed with salted peanuts.The smell reminded me of Frau Mueller’s Level 1 chemistry lab in High School – not something anyone who survived wants to relive. It was torture. Her tie-dyed lab coat didn’t soften the blow. But I digress…

My topping’s not good.  See, the tops of my cakes caved in in the center, so when I put the topping on it pooled in the center of my ramekins and hardened like a hockey puck. The other eater in my household looked like he would break a tooth digging into my latest baking effort (just as the presidential candidates were debating the future of health care, might I add), so I quickly made the executive decision to microwave the cakes in order to soften the topping.  It helped, but not as much as three days of work warranted.

Another bust, as far as I’m concerned. Sorry, Dorie fans.  I’ll make the cake again, but I need to find a better topping.