Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cake Americana

I don't wave the stars and stripes, or know all the words to the national anthem. My American history is so-so, I can name about 10 presidents, and I stay as far from American politics as I can. I have seen the nations capitol, but don't scowl when I admit I was more interested in the gift shops than D.C herself. Worst of all, I have never been to Disney Land.

But don't write me off as un-American yet. I am as American as apple pie! A daughter of the pioneers, I come from a strong line of women who praised this country and their part of it through food. My deeper sense of Americana best translates through flavor.

Once a country criticized for a lack of cuisine, America is discovering it has more of a legacy of flavor than previously thought. And I, the proud daughter of this land of liberal cuisine, cling to flavors I was raised with. Peanut butter, brownies, milk chocolate, rice crispies, and chocolate pudding all deserve a star on my spangled banner, or better yet, a plate.

My chocolate dessert for the month of November is a tribute to my American childhood. A cake, layered tall, is called the Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownie Crunch Cake. Between two dense layers of fudgy brownie lies another two layers of milk chocolate ganache that sandwich a layer called peanut butter crunch. The peanut butter crunch is a rich combination of peanut butter, chocolate, and rice crispies. A sleek coat of dark chocolate glaze brings this childlike cake into the adult world, dressing it for the table.

As I have known since childhood, the cake does not stand alone (that's the cheese's job). To accompany this cake Americana is another treat from my American childhood, chocolate pudding. A step up from the pudding whose life began granulated, in a small box marked Jell-0, this pudding is made by pouring a warm custard over chocolate. A billow of whipped cream crowns the top and a scattering of caramelized rice crispies creates the final tie.

Edit: the posts just felt naked without a recipe

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownie Crunch Cake

1 recipe Brownies, baked in a half sheet pan. This must be lined with parchment, and kept chilled until assembly

1 cup chopped salted peanuts for garnish

Milk Chocolate Ganache

1 pound milk chocolate, chopped finely
1 1/2 cups cream

1. Scald the cream and pour it over the chocolate. Stir slowly until the mixture is even. Chill the ganache until it is thick and spreadable.

Peanut Butter Crunch

3 oz milk chocolate
1 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups rice crispies

1. Melt the milk chocolate, peanut butter, and butter together. Stir in the rice crispies last minute, just before assembling the cake.

Chocolate Glaze

8 oz chocolate, 64 percent
6 oz butter, cut in cubes
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Place all the ingredients in a large stainless steel bowl and place over simmering double boiler. Heat the ingredients without stirring until 80 percent of the chocolate and butter has melted. Remove from heat and stir until all the ingredients have melted and emulsified.

2. Let the glaze cool on the counter, stirring occasionally until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Assembeling the cake

Have ready the milk chocolate ganache, the peanut butter crunch, and the cooled brownie layer. You will need a piece of thick sturdy cardboard big enough to build your cake on, or a cutting board.

1.Unmold the brownie from the pan and cut in half vertically, leaving you 2 pieces of equal size, a top and a bottom for your cake. Place one layer of brownie on the cake board, papery side up.

2. Spread the bottom layer of your cake with half the milk chocolate ganache and chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

3. Spread the all the peanut butter crunch on top of the ganache, and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

4. Spread the remaining ganache over the peanut butter crunch. Place the top half of your brownie over the ganache, papery side down. Chill the whole cake for half an hour. When the cake is stable, trim the edges evenly to make sharp corners.

5. While the cake is chilling prepare the chocolate glaze.

6. To glaze the cake place it on a wire rack set over a sheet pan. With the bowl of glaze held about 8 inches above the cake, carefully glaze the four corners first, making sure each corner is covered. Pour the rest of the glaze over the center of the cake in a steady stream. Either spread the glaze towards the sides of the cake with a long cake spatula in 2 or 3 quick motions, or tilt the cake to move the glaze over the edges evenly.

7. Transfer the cake to the cake board and press chopped peanuts along the bottom edge of the cake while the glaze is soft. When you are ready to present the cake, transfer it to a flat cake plate.


Blogger Seattle Tall Poppy said...

Bring on the chocolate, peanut butter and rice crispies! That is about as American as it gets (sans apple pie...). This post is just beautiful dear Dana. Love proflie detail shot of the "cake". You'll be seeing me for sure!

November 02, 2006 7:58 AM  
Blogger Shauna said...

Girl, you don't fool around! If only I could eat that....Well, I'll just lick the computer screen instead.

Lovely writing, Dana.

November 02, 2006 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anita said...

Decadent and gorgeous! I love your dessert creations!

November 03, 2006 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG- this looks soo good (I’m literally licking my screen clean...)
beautiful pictures with that shiny top and layers - really enjoyed your writing!

November 05, 2006 9:00 AM  
Blogger Scott at Real Epicurean said...

It does look good actually - and a refreshing change from most other deserts.

November 05, 2006 9:15 AM  
Anonymous peabody said...

Love that cake.

November 05, 2006 6:16 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Tall Poppy- come and get it

Shauna- You'll have to eat my flourless trio of desserts, warm chocolate mousse, burnt sugar icecream, and salted caramels.

Anita, Julia, Scott, and Peabody... Thanks!

November 06, 2006 10:21 PM  
Anonymous Jill said...

That cake is dreamy...where can we get the recipe???

November 07, 2006 10:18 AM  
Blogger Helene said...

Oh man! This has to be the most decadent dessert I have come across! Gorgeous!

November 17, 2006 12:25 PM  

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