Members of the jury, I ask you: can Dorie's Caramel-Peanut Brownie Cake more accurately be described as Diabetes on a Plate Cake?
Seriously, y'all. I love me some sugar as much as the next person, but this cake was intense. It was, in the terminology of my barely-remembered high school chemistry class, a super-saturated sugar solution.
For the uninitiated, this was a rich brownie cake covered in a thick coating of homemade caramel sauce and salted peanuts. (Add a little nougat in there and it'd be a Snickers cake.) The picture in the book looked so amazing I was expecting to love this cake, but it was a little bit much for me. I didn't serve it with whipped cream or ice cream as suggested, because I was already dying over the calorie count, but in retrospect I think there needed to be some richness to cut all the sugar. I also thought the chocolate cake was lost under all of the caramel and peanuts and the taste just didn't come through. Each bite was about 60% caramel flavor, 25% peanut flavor, and 15% chocolate cake flavor.
I halved the recipe and made a 6" cake, since there are only two of us in the house and we're notoriously bad at sharing our sweets. (The ONLY time I wish we had typical corporate jobs is when we're trying to give away desserts--we are seriously lacking in coworkers to share them with.) Even with the smaller cake size, we each had a piece and then the cake languished on the counter for a few days. It wasn't bad, but it didn't really compel us to attack it with spoons in a feeding frenzy, either. I think the peanuts were my biggest deterrent--if they're not in peanut butter, I just don't want them in my dessert.
All that being said, I'm not tossing this recipe to the curb. I'd make it again, but with the following changes:
- Bake the cake a little bit less so it's fudgier
- Go lighter on the caramel on top
- Use hazelnuts or pecans instead of peanuts--we're just not peanut people
- Serve it with a tart ice cream--I think a creme fraiche ice cream would be fantastic with this cake
I do think it has potential to knock my socks off so I'll bookmark it again and give it another chance to prove itself.
Give it to me straight: are we crazy? Do peanuts really belong on top of a cake? Was it too sweet, or am I a big wimp?