Today’s TWD recipe was selected by Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy and I can’t thank her enough for her choice.   This recipe is right up my alley and I could hardly wait to get started on it.

For the second week in a row I found myself lacking the appropriate hardware for the recipe, but I forged ahead anyway and while I can’t say that the result was perfection this recipe is certainly going on my “Gotta make this again!” list.

Exactly what hardware was I lacking this time, you ask?  Would you believe that out of 8 total spring form pans not a single one was an 8″ pan?  So, I faced a choice, do I make half the recipe in a 4″ pan, or increase the recipe to fit one of my 9″ or 10″ pans?  Being the good little chocoholic that I am, I opted for the more chocolate in a larger pan scenario.  In order to fit the larger pan I increased the recipe to 1 1/4 times the original recipe.

Here is my slightly too large pan prepped strictly according to Dorie’s instructions.  I think next time I make this I will dust the pan with a cocoa and flour mixture to avoid any white dusting on the exterior of the finished cake.

The brownie/cake portion of this recipe was really very simple to put together; for which I was grateful because I knew the caramel wouldn’t be nearly so cooperative (based on my previous caramel experience).  The cake batter had essentially 3 components:

We have the dry ingredients, primarily composed of flour

A chocolate mixture which looks good enough to eat as is!

And last but not least, the sugar dissolved in the wet ingredients.

I didn’t even have to break out the stand mixer for this one, all the ingredients were whisked together by hand.

Just as Dorie promised, the finished batter was thick and shiny.  Once I got this all scraped into the pan and in the oven I was free to fret and worry over the caramel.

I would say in the past I have had a roughly 50% success rate with homemade caramels.  I’ve had the liquid all cook off leaving a grainy sticky sugar mass with still no amber color to it behind, I’ve had thin colorless syrups and I’ve had burnt-to-a-crisp-blackened-easier-to-throw-the-pan-away-than-clean-it (I did clean it of course, but I’m sure it would have been easier to throw it away and buy new).  But I have also had the pleasure of experiencing perfect dark golden, slightly bitter sweet heavenly caramel emerging from the stove top of my kitchen.  So I approached this portion of the recipe with some amount of trepidation.

I placed all the caramel ingredients into the pan and turned on the flame.  Nothing to worry about yet.

Now it is boiling and I’m getting the very first tinges of color in the syrup.  I just keep reminding myself that Dorie said not to be timid about the color, but I am glued to the side of my stove now.  My eyes never waver from the surface of the caramel-to-be.  Has it been more than 10 minutes yet?

And there it is!  Nearly perfect amber color – I snapped this shot and immediately removed the molten sugar mixture from the heat.  Then I heaved a sigh of relief before adding in the butter and cream.  Just a note, it did take nearly 20 minutes on my stove to turn color – I was starting to be afraid I was going to lose all the water content before the solution turned amber.

With the nerve wracking caramel experience behind me, I stirred in the peanuts in preparation for topping the cake.  I chose to use honey roasted peanuts because a) I had them on hand and b) I love the flavor.

And here are the final results – well worth the caramel concerns.  I think I may have put too much of the caramel mixture on top and you can see by the peanut surface pattern that (as Dorie warned) the middle of the cake did fall.  But I assure you, that did not in any way detract from the taste of this treat.

I did remember to get a picture of a slice for you before digging in – just look at the texture on that cake, I love it!

This cake also got rave review at the office and at home.  “Prince Charming” let me know he thought it was fantastic and one of my colleagues claimed it was wonderful, like a PayDay on top of a brownie.

This delightful recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Thank you again for your choice Tammy!

*posted on Tuesday with 3 minutes to spare…that’s cutting it a little close I think!