Monday, May 17, 2010

What to Do With 6 POUNDS of Peanuts?? The Search for Peanut Recipes, Part 1

We all know that like chocolate, peanuts also give an irresistible outcome to any dessert. Whether in the form of peanut butter, peanut oil, or just plain peanuts, this nut holds an extremely versatile presence in the baking realm. My favorite incorporation of peanut butter in in cheesecakes, as it lends beautifully to the creaminess of the texture. Yet this blog has two desserts that were, in and of themselves, fantastic! They are a Peanut Butter Silk Pie and a Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake.

For my recital reception, my mother bought not one but TWO giant containers of Planter's Dry Roasted Peanuts. As aforementioned in a previous blog, the consumption of the recital bars I provided as well as the surplus of cheeses, dips, and other food left me with nearly 6 POUNDS of salted while I like peanuts, this is a rather overwhelming amount, and one that I can hardly begin to fathom finishing in this decade. As such, I have been searching for numerous ways to include them in my baking and cooking creations, as demonstrated in this blog :)

This pie was UNBELIEVABLY delicious! It's so simple, yet the combination of peanut butter, cream cheese, and whipping cream does wonders! The most important part of this pie is to make AT LEAST one day in advance. Trust me, allowing the pie to chill overnight gives it ample time to deepen in flavor and texture.

I have actually made this pie a few times, but the current photos you are seeing omitted the fudge layer (still delicious without it, but had I had more time I definitely would have included as it is WAY worth it!). Make sure to use regular creamy peanut butter, not the organic/natural type as it will be too oily. I used JIFF, a personal favorite. I would also not recommend chunky peanut butter as it might make it tougher to mix it with the cream cheese. I found this recipe on, which has a surprising wealth of recipes from desserts to entrees to cocktails. It's a great sight if you wish to find a variety of options. The only change I made was to add my own recipe for a Graham Cracker crust.

Peanut Butter Silk Pie
Serves 8


Graham Cracker Crust
  • 9 whole graham crackers, coarsely broken
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3-4 tablespoons sugar
Fudge Layer
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups whipped topping

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish with nonstick spray.

Crust: Blend graham crackers, melted butter, and sugar in processor until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture over bottom and up sides of prepared pie dish. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Fudge Layer: In a medium saucepan, cook sugar, chocolate, milk, corn syrup together, stirring occasionally, to the soft ball stage (see below), or about 234° to 240° on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat; stir in peanut butter. Beat lightly for a few minutes; pour into bottom of pie crust. Chill thoroughly before filling.

Filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with peanut butter, powdered sugar and milk. Fold in whipped topping until well blended. Spoon into fudge-layered pie crust and garnish with chocolate curls and/or chopped peanuts. Chill thoroughly before serving.

This next cake was purely selected based on the GORGEOUS photos by Celeste on her blog Sugar and Spice. A from-scratch brownie recipe as well as homemade caramel? Count me in! And to top it off, PEANUTS! 1 full cup of them, a perfect way to make a dent in that now 5 lbs of peanuts I still have left over, haha! This particualr post will be the first of my blog where I document more of the actual process rather than just the end result, so all of you can have the chance to enjoy it as well! My favorite baking blogs do this, so it only seems appropriate that I do so as well :)

A brownie recipe from scratch isn't nearly as difficult as it may seem. It doesn't require any appliances, merely a good whisk and a heat proof bowl. The best part of this recipe? Melted Ghirardelli 60% Chocolate.
This recipe doesn't specifically call for Ghirardelli, you can use any variety of bittersweet chocolate. A lesson I've learned when baking with chocolate - always use GOOD chocolate when using in a melted form. Cheaper varieties burn more easily and you end up spending the same amount with having to replace the ingredients in the event they do burn, haha! I'd rather take the foolproof approach and go with a well-made brand. Make sure to constantly stir the chocolate during this process, or else you will end up with burned chocolate afterall. It calls for a heatproof pan, and I always recommend glass above metal, as it is sturdier and will not heat as fast as the metal will.

Making your own caramel can seem to be a scary process, but trust me - like the concept of a homemade brownie recipe, it's not as difficult as it seems. Do be careful, though, as boiling sugar makes it VERY hot and you can easily burn yourself if you don't take caution. Otherwise, it's just a matter of keeping an eye on it and watching for it to turn that beautiful deep amber. And the end result is oh-my-god amazing!

This recipe, while from Celeste's blog, is actually by Dorie Greenspan in her book Baking: From My Home to Yours. I don't own this book (yet) so Celeste's blog was my resource. The only change I made was to use a 9-inch springform pan rather than the 8-inch called for in the recipe. It still took just as much time, but keep an eye on it anyways as cooking times vary from oven to oven. I hope you enjoy it!

Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake
Sugar and Spice by Celeste, via Dorie Greenspan
Serves 8 - 10


Brownie Cake:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Caramel-Peanut Topping:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup salted peanuts

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter an 8-inch springform pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper. Place the springform pan on a baking sheet.

Brownie Cake: combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl; whisk together and set aside. Add the butter and chocolate to a heatproof bowl set over simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are just melted – do not let them get so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugars until well blended. Whisk in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla. Add in the melted butter and chocolate mixture, and whisk until combined. Gently whisk in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are just incorporated. The batter should be thick, smooth and shiny. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and jiggle the pan a bit to even out the batter.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 15 minutes, then run a thin knife between the cake and the pan and carefully remove the sides of the springform. The cake may have puffed up during baking, but don’t be concerned if it develops a crater in the center while cooling. Allow to cool to room temperature. When the cake is totally cool, invert it, remove the base of the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Turn the cake right side up onto a serving platter.

Caramel-Peanut Topping: combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stirring just to combine the ingredients. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Heat, without stirring, until the caramel turns deep amber, 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of your saucepan and the intensity of the heat. As the sugar is caramelizing, wipe down any splatters on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. To test the color of the caramel, drop a bit onto a white plate. Don’t be timid about the color – if it’s too pale, it won’t have much flavor.

Lower the heat a bit and, standing back from the saucepan, add the cream and butter. When the spatters are less vehement, stir to calm down the caramel and dissolve any lumps. Stir in the peanuts and pour the caramel and peanuts into a 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup or a heatproof bowl.

You will have more caramel than you need, but you want to get all of the peanuts onto the cake, so spoon all of the peanuts out of the hot caramel and onto the top of the cake. Pour or spoon enough caramel to cover all the nuts, drizzling a bit over the edges of the cake for presentation. Allow the topping to set at room temperature, about 20 minutes, before serving. Keep the leftover caramel at room temperature and save for another use.

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