I mentioned in my last post that I went out and bought this new cookbook giving me something to rave about on the blog for a while. I bought it in part because of what Edd Kimber had to say about it, but more importantly because I ended up with two birthday celebrations in one day. I had lots of creative plans for the cake for the birthday dinner I was going to, but once I heard about the Sweet and Salty cake, that settled it without a doubt. The birthday we were going to celebrate in the afternoon didn't even know it was getting a cake until I saw the recipe for the peanut butter pie. How could I see something called a peanut butter pie and NOT make it?
The peanut butter pie with cookie crust, as it's called in the book, called for a chocolate wafer, sugar and butter crust. I even got the cookies they recommended ( Newman's Own organic) because I was at Whole Foods anyway, and well, because I had a big crush on the cookbook authors. I had also bought the Whole Foods Groupon, so I was good to go.
I used my magic bullet to grind up the cookies. It doesn't work quite as well as a regular food processor, but it did the trick. They got mixed with the butter and sugar and put in the fridge. For the first layer of the pie, I mixed together the semisweet chocolate chips and light corn syrup in the double boiler and the spread it on the bottom of the pie as directed. The next step was to mix cream cheese (I used light), peanut butter (I used natural), vanilla extract (I used vanilla extract), and dark brown sugar together with the paddle in a stand mixer. Then, you take that out, put it aside and beat up some cream until it reaches soft peak. Then mix them together. Then you try not to eat all of the filling because it tastes really, really good. Then you put the peanut butter filling in the pie dish with the cookie crust and chocolate layer and put it in the freezer for up to three days.
The recipe called for a fudge sauce, which I didn't do since I was going to be serving the pie at the bar and that seemed awkward.
The only bone I have to pick with the recipe is that it said the pie cut clean from the freezer. I did not find that. The pie itself cut fine, but the crust was frozen solid and was very difficult to cut. It involved a lot of standing up and pushing down and accidentally projecting pieces of peanut butter pie across the table. When I make the recipe again (and I will be making this recipe again), I will remove it from the freezer in advance by about an hour or so and let it thaw a bit. Or use a better knife. In either case, it was fricken awesome.
The Sweet and Salty cake was a total putchke, and totally, 100% worth every ounce of its pain-in-the-butt-ness. I burnt two full batches of caramel before I finally got it right, and if I had to do that every time, I would. This cake was that good.
It was my friend Josh's birthday and it was a big one. I figured a big birthday needed a big cake. A spectacular cake. And a cake with footballs on it. Josh is a big football fan, it seemed called for. I'm not going to put the recipe on here since I'm a librarian and have issues with copyright, but since Edd Kimber doesn't seem to have the same issues (we'll see what happens when HIS book comes out), I'll link you to his page for it.
It took me three evenings to prepare everything for the pie and the cake. I made the pie in one night (it was pretty straight forward), and made the chocolate layer cakes the same night. These layer cakes are very impressive, they bake evenly and are quite tasty.
I also attempted to make the caramel for the salted caramel and whipped caramel ganache frosting on the first night. After burning two batches and setting off the smoke detector once, I gave up on that. On the first night I did also pipe white chocolate goal posts and stitching onto chocolate footballs (I will admit, I went a little crazy on this cake).
The second night I finally owned caramel. I discovered that I could not either wait for the sugar syrup to reach 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, nor wait for the syrup to be a dark amber color. I had to take the pot off the stove right when the syrup began to turn golden. It would then finish cooking in the pot off the stove and would get to the correct color. I never got it to 350 degrees. I also made the whipped caramel ganache frosting on the second night. It wasn't coming together as well as I had hoped it would, which I blamed on the Trader Joe's brand chocolate I had bought (it's was cheap!), but I think it had to do with the humidity in the kitchen. I popped it in the fridge and left it overnight.
The next day, after eating the peanut butter pie, I had to come home and put the cake together. The ganache was, of course, completely solid because that's what happens when you put something made with butter in the refrigerator overnight. I let it soften a bit while I mixed up the decorator's icing for the grass.
When the ganache was soft enough, I assembled the cake. I didn't find that the salted caramel absorbed into each layer of the cake as much as I'd hoped it would, so it seemed kind of soupy. I had outlined the top of each layer with the ganache using a piping bag though, so everything stayed pretty contained. I then filled in the circle I'd made with ganache on top of the caramel, sprinkled it with fleur de sel and put on the next layer. When all three layers were assembled, I crumb coated the way they instructed me to and then finished icing and decorating the cake with the grass icing, goal posts, footballs, and white chocolate lettering. I was a bit concerned that the icing was going to begin to melt again because of the humidity, so I asked them to pop it back in the fridge at the restaurant. They took it out about a half hour before we ate it and it was the perfect consistency.
All in all, that cake kicked ass. It really was the perfect combination of sweet and salty. I think it was worthy of the birthday number it was celebrating and quite honestly, all the steps and hours aside, I can't wait to make it again!