So if you’ve read about how celebrating birthdays in the US and Italy is different, you’ll know that usually the birthday girl/boy makes their own cake or brings food/drink to celebrate a birthday with their colleagues*, I thought it only fair to give some presents to my readers, too!
Remember Pocket Coffee**? And what about the summer version, the Pocket Espresso to Go? I’ll send a 3-pack of each kind (for Pocket Coffee love all year long) to two lucky commenters! (comments accepted just today, Oct 12th)
Just tell me: What treat / dessert would you make or bring to share on your birthday?
One of the things that I really miss in Italy is caramel. It’s not present in many sweets and some of the caramel I’ve tried here cannot compare with that from France or the States. So I decided a gooey caramel topping with tons of salted pistachio kernels was going to be a perfect topper for this Chocolate Brownie Cake topped with Homemade Caramel and Pistachios!
If you haven’t bought Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From my home to yours“ yet, what are you waiting for? Several of the recipes I’ve made from this cookbook have been home runs and I can’t wait to try them all!
Chocolate Brownie Birthday Cake with Homemade Caramel and Pistachios Recipe
Notes: Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from my home to Yours. The original recipe calls for using salted peanuts which I’m sure would be excellent, but I loved the pistachios. She also lists corn syrup in both the cake and caramel recipes, and I chose to substitute honey for CS in both cases, which is not a perfect solution. Read more about using corn syrup on David Lebovitz.
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar* (or light)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons honey* (or light corn syrup)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F/176C. Butter and flour an 8-inch round springform, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate container. In a heatproof bowl or double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter until fully melted. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or whisk the eggs and sugars together until well blended, then add the honey and vanilla. Whisk in the chocolate-butter mix and then slowly work in the dry ingredients until just mixed.
- Pour the batter into the springform and bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, checking for donenness after 35 minutes by inserting a knife into the cake (mine was done early).
- Cool the cake on a rack/outside of the oven for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan before removing them and let the cake cool completely. It may be concave, but if it’s puffed up, you can shave it down slightly so it will sit evenly when inverted. Invert the cake and put the sides of the springform pan back on. Proceed to the homemade caramel below.
If you’ve never made caramel at home, what are you waiting for? It’s extremely easy, it just takes a little bit of daring and keeping a close eye on that sugar! I can’t wait to make it again.
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons honey* (or light corn syrup)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup salted pistachios (or peanuts or salted nuts)
- Using a heavy-bottomed saucepan (not recommended to use nonstick) combine sugar, water, and honey until just mixed. Put over medium-high heat, not stirring, until the mixture turns a dark amber color (5-10 minutes depending on size of pan and heat). You can test a drop of the mixture on a white plate to gauge color. The secret is getting the mixture as dark as possible without it burning – if you start to get dark spots on the side of the pan or smoking, turn heat slightly down and rotate or move off heat for a few seconds before returning it.
- After reaching desired amber color, turn heat down slightly, protect your arm and body by moving back from the pan and pour in the cream and butter. The mixture will bubble up and sputter, but you can use a wooden spoon to mix in the newer ingredients and make the texture more uniform
- Once mixed well, add the salted pistachio kernels and pour into a heat-safe bowl and/or cup. While the mixture is still hot, spoon the pistachios onto the cake, and then spoon enough caramel on to fill in the cracks.
- If you’re planning on serving shortly, take the sides of the springform pan away, plate the cake and drizzle the warm caramel on the edges of the cake so you will create large caramel drips as show in the picture.
- The extra caramel can be stored in the refrigerator or eaten as soon as it’s cooled (like in my house).
*Unfortunately for my colleagues, this cake will not be making an appearance in the office this birthday. My father was in town all weekend and therefore I was out of the kitchen. They will have to be happy with a substitute!
**Disclosure: No Pocket Coffee was harassed or harmed in this post. The items in this giveaway were purchased with the author’s money and I am not being compensated for mentioning them. I will receive 4-6% of the purchase price if you buy the cookbook mentioned in this post via the affiliate link…but who cares? Buy the cookbook wherever you like – just get it!