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
- 2/3 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
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml water
- 1/2 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 3/4 teaspoon / 3.75 ml
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml cream cheese softened (4 oz / 225 g)
- 1 cup / 250 ml peanut butter
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml icing or confectioner's sugar
- 1 cup / 250 ml whipping cream
- 1/2 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 2/3 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.