In a tremulating world, a Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake is ridiculous.
But here I am, fifty and ridiculous with all I have to offer.
We are picking our way through a perilous bog.
Poets – more than politicians, philosophers, or pundits – might keep us safe from the will o’ the wisps who try to lure us into treacherous muck.
And we have lost a great one.
Here for a broken, aching, longing world are the words of Leonard Cohen:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Peace and all good.
- 3 cups / 750 ml all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups / 375 ml sugar
- ⅔ cup / 160 ml cocoa
- 2 teaspoons / 10 ml baking soda
- 2 cups / 500 ml cold water
- 1 cup / 250 ml vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml vanilla
- 3 tablespoons / 45 ml cider vinegar
- 1 cup / 250 ml sugar
- ¼ cup / 60 ml water
- ½ cup / 125 ml unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup / 250 ml whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml salt (if using salted butter, reduce the salt to ¾ teaspoon / 3.75 ml )
- ½ cup / 125 ml cream cheese, softened (4 oz / 225 g)
- 1 cup / 250 ml peanut butter
- ½ cup / 125 ml icing or confectioner's sugar
- 1 cup / 250 ml whipping cream
- ½ cup / 125 ml chopped salted peanuts (for garnishing finished cake)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F / 176 degrees C. Grease a 9x13-inch / 23x33 cm baking pan.
- Stir together flour and sugar. Sift cocoa into the flour to ensure there are no lumps. Add baking soda and salt and stir to combine.
- Pour water, vegetable oil, vanilla and cider vinegar into flour mixture and stir until the batter is smooth. It is okay if there are a few lumps.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove cake from oven. Using a toothpick or skewer, poke holes over the surface of the cake almost to the bottom.
- While cake is baking, prepare the caramel sauce.
- Put sugar and water in a medium-sized pan. Have the butter, cream and salt measured and by the stove.
- Bring the sugar and water to simmering point over medium heat. Do not stir the mixture as it heats. If necessary, you can use a brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals from the side of the pan.
- As the sugar simmers, the water will start to evaporate and the sugar will begin to caramelize. You want it to be an amber color - somewhat darker than honey. Once the sugar starts to caramelize it can burn very quickly, so when it has reached a nice color, you will need to act quickly.
- Stir in the butter until it is melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Remove from the heat and add the cream and salt. The mixture will foam up. Stir until the cream is incorporate and you have a smooth, rich sauce. Let the sauce cool.
- If you make this ahead of time, refrigerate until needed. Warm it up in the microwave, or by placing the storage container in a bowl of hot water until the caramel has warmed up enough to pour.
- Beat cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth.
- Add icing sugar and beat until thoroughly blended.
- Add whipping cream and beat with an electric mixer until the frosting is light.
- Pour ⅔ of the caramel sauce over the cake. You will need to do this in stages - pour part of the sauce over and wait for it to absorb, then add more. Poke additional holes if needed to help cake absorb the caramel.
- Give the caramel time to absorb, then spread with the peanut butter frosting. Sprinkle chopped nuts over cake, and drizzle remaining caramel sauce over.