Friday, November 26, 2021


This cake is a perfect example of what I consider a winter cake. Even though we are still not in winter, and the combination of chocolate and caramel is timeless, to me, those heavier flavours, along with the peanut butter, are the signature of cold weather.
Moreover, it is very well known how much I value the role texture plays in the overall impression of a cake. Or any dessert, for that matter.
And this one is absolutely to my liking - chocolate fudge layers, dense mousse filling, chewy caramel that slowly trickles down the sides of each slice as it is being served. All that topped with dense double chocolate ganache and soft caramel sauce gently swirled together, contrasting the roughly chopped roasted peanuts. Nothing better in the world.
As for the decoration, let your inspiration guide your spatula.
I am a great believer in not letting the decoration hide the interior of the cake. Decorations are beautiful, at times works of art, but I love to let those layers show and tell their own story. A story of perhaps rushing to assemble the cake because there was something else happening, maybe the idea changed mid-decoration, or maybe an ingredient ran out. Perhaps uneven, messy, in all their beauty. It is only fair to let all of them shine. That is how each cake becomes its own story.

For the chocolate fudge layers
250 grams unsweetened applesauce
200 grams granulated sugar
120 millilitres cold water
30 millilitres vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
250 grams plain flour
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
For the vegan caramel sauce
100 grams granulated sugar
100 millilitres plant double cream
50 grams vegan block butter, diced
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the peanut butter filling
300 grams unsweetened smooth peanut butter
100 grams icing sugar, sifted
200 millilitres plant double cream
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the decoration
50 grams dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
20 grams vegan white chocolate
100 millilitres plant double cream
30 grams roasted unsalted peanuts, optional

Start by making the vegan caramel sauce. Pour the sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, a light-coloured one, preferably, shake it well, and place it over medium heat. Let the sugar heat up slowly, without any stirring. Once the sugar becomes amber in colour, about 5-6 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and immediately add in the diced butter. Stir vigorously until blended, and add in the cream. Stir until everything is combined well, returning to the heat for a moment, to blend everything. Remove from the heat and let it cool down for a minute or two, and then add in the vanilla, and mix well. Let the sauce cool down completely. Once cooled, place it into the refrigerator until needed. This sauce can be made a whole day in advance, or simply a few hours before the rest of the cake.
While the caramel is cooling, make the cake layers. Take a large bowl, add in the unsweetened applesauce and the sugar, and briefly mix. Pour in the water, oil, and the vanilla, and blend it well. Sift in the flour and the cocoa powder, and add in the baking soda and the salt. Whisk everything until only incorporated. Line four small round cake tins (15 cm) with baking parchment, bottom and sides, and divide the batter equally between them. The batter is thick, so you will need to level it as best as possible. Bake them immediately in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 8 minutes or so. Check them with a toothpick, to make sure they are done, but not overbaked. There should be only a few moist crumbs sticking to the toothpick. Once done, remove them from the oven, and let them cool down to room temperature in the pans.

When the cakes are completely cool, make the filling. Take a large bowl, and pour in the plant double cream. Ideally, it should be very well chilled. Whip the cream with an electric mixer on high until somewhat firm peaks form, and set it aside. Take another large bowl, add in the peanut butter, and mix it with an electric mixer on medium, just for a few moments, to make it smoother. Add in the icing sugar and the vanilla, and blend on high until completely smooth. Once blended, add in a third of the whipped cream, and fold it through. It does not have to be perfect, only slightly lightened in texture. Add in the rest of the cream, and fold it through until combined. If you wish, you can leave some streaks of the cream showing, or you can fully incorporate it, that is up to your preference. Take out two heaping tablespoons of the filling, and set them aside. Divide the rest of the filling into three parts, and proceed to assemble the cake.

Take out the cakes from the pans, and gently level them, if you wish. Reserve a heaping tablespoon or a bit more of the caramel sauce, and take the rest out of the refrigerator to make it slightly more pourable. Place the first cake layer on the serving platter, place a cake ring around it, followed by a tall strip of acetate, and close the cake ring so it fits snugly. Add a third of the peanut butter filling, and a heaping tablespoon of the caramel sauce. Place another cake layer on top, and continue stacking until all of the cake layers have been used. Finally, spread the reserved filling over the top of the cake, and place it into the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, take the caramel out of the refrigerator, and prepare the chocolate ganache. Melt both types of chocolate and the plant double cream over medium heat or in the microwave, and once blended, set it aside for a moment, to cool down slightly. Take the cake out, remove the cake right and the acetate, and gently smooth the sides, if needed. Pour the chocolate ganache on the top of the cake and down the sides, and quickly pour the caramel sauce over it. Either create a pattern you like, or let it blend with the chocolate naturally. Shake the cake gently so the two toppings slightly blend together. Sprinkle with some chopped peanuts, if using, and let the glaze set. As soon as it sets, the cake is ready for serving. Yields 20 servings. © TINA VESIĆ 2021