Sunday, May 15, 2016

Peanut Chocolate Mud Cake

Mud cakes are not something we're so familiar with over on this continent. Us North Americans love our layer cakes, mostly because it gives room for more frosting. Amen to that!

Something I learned about while living in Australia was the popularity of really simple, one-bowl, one-bake desserts.

Cookies aren't so popular because they need to be portioned, but slices that can be spread as a sheet or a slab and baked in one go are a hoot!

Layer cakes are considered too fussy, but big tall single layer cakes are what's in style there. They rarely frost the sides too. A missed opportunity? Maybe.

A lot has to do with the sort-of slack baking culture due to the hot climate. Who wants to run the oven for hours when it's smokin' hot outside, humid as whaaaaaat and air conditioning comes at a premium? Plus there's way better things to do than washing dishes, like going to the beach or having a picnic.

Mud cakes are called just that because they are dense, moist and rich. 

Instead of the usual creaming step that most butter cakes begin with, where you beat butter with sugar to incorporate air and build things up to create fluffiness, mud cakes begin by melting everything down

It creates a very hearty cake with a solid, yet moist crumb.

Step 1 - melt chocolate and butter. Always a good sign. 

Add two types of sugar, cocoa powder and milk and whisk until smooth. This makes a glossy chocolate syrupy mixture. Set it aside to cool slightly.

Step 2 - beat the eggs into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture.

Step 3 - sift in all the remaining dry ingredients including flour, raising agents and salt. We need quite a bit of leavening since there's no creaming step. Fold it all in nicely and gently.

You'll need to bake this cake for a solid 45 minutes, but check at 40. A cake like this is excellent when well baked, but can be coarse if over-baked. A skewer inserted into the center should come out mostly clean with maybe a crumb or two stuck to it. It shouldn't have wet batter, though - that would be raw.

Let the cake cool for 30 minutes in the pan before turning out. Slather it with creamy peanut butter frosting and just take it all in.

If this work week has nothing exciting in store, at least there's chocolate cake. Thank heavens for that!


Peanut Chocolate Mud Cake
Makes 8-10 servings

For the cake:
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (125g) unsalted butter, chopped
5 oz (142g) dark chocolate, chopped 
2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
½ cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder, sifted
¾ cup (175 ml) milk
1 ¼ cups (180g) all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
3 tbsp soft butter
½ cup icing sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the sides.

Combine butter, chocolate, both sugars, cocoa powder and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat and whisk until chocolate melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Add the eggs to the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and fold it in gently until free of lumps.

Scrape batter into pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out allllmost clean. Just a few crumbs, but not wet batter, stuck to the skewer is ok. This is one cake you don't want to over-bake. 

Remove from oven and cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing and cooling down completely. 

To make the frosting, beat together peanut butter and butter until smooth. Beat in icing sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Slather over cooled cake and serve with chopped peanuts.
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