Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Last Monday I received an email that started off with the line "You MUST make this cake!!," and she went on to tell me about the most delicious peanut butter chocolate cake she made for her husband's birthday. She got the recipe off of Smitten Kitchen, and they got the cake recipe from the book Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes which is now officially on my birthday present wish list. The cake on the Smitten Kitchen Blog looks semi-professional, so try not to judge mine too harshly.

She was not lying about this cake. It is UNBELIEVABLE!! Next to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, I believe peanut butter and chocolate might be the greatest pairing of all time (apologies for the nerdy literary reference).

I liked this recipe because the steps were easy to divide up, and ultimately, it only required 3 bowls to make. I'm not particularly good at icing cakes, so the chocolate ganache did a nice job of covering up my cake's imperfections and creating an overall "rustic" look. The recipe is meant for 3 8-inch pans, but I used 3 9-inch pans. The cake probably wasn't as tall as the original, but that's all.

Both my friend and the blogger at smitten kitchen complained about the cake being difficult to ice because it was so moist and crumbly. My cakes cooled in the fridge all day, so I didn't have that problem. They both suggested creating a crumb layer. I've never actually done that, so here is a how-to link about icing cakes that I found helpful.

Here is what you will need:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well.

Step 2: Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended.

Step 3: Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed.

Step 4: Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. ( Note: I made these in the morning and kept them in the refrigerator all day, so they would be firm by the time I wanted to ice them. I had been warned that they would be very "crumbly" otherwise. The blog I took this from suggested putting them in the freezer for 30 minutes before icing them.)

Full List of Ingredients for the Cake Layers:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

When the cakes are cool, make the peanut butter frosting.

Here is what you will need:

Step 1: Be sure to sift the sugar--it makes a difference.

Step 2: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes

Step 3: Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Step 4: Frost the cake with the icing. Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Place the iced cake in the fridge uncovered, so it will be nice and firm before you spread the chocolate ganache over it.

Full List of Ingredients for the Peanut Butter Icing:
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (the real thing--none of this organic/low-sugar stuff)

While the iced cake is cooling, make the chocolate-peanut butter ganache.

Here is what you will need:

Step 1: In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Step 2: Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

FINAL STEP!! To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.

Full List of Ingredients for the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache:
8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

So the reason this cake is displayed on a random cake plate is because I needed to transport it to my husband's office for his going away party, so I didn't have a chance to cut into it at home and take photos from 20 different angles (I'm lucky my food doesn't seem to be too camera shy). I wanted a picture of the "inside" though, so I snuck off with my camera during the party and took a quick picture of the last man standing. Apologies it is not very artistic, but I didn't want to come off as the crazy wife who takes pictures of her food, so I had to act fast.

Despite the horrible lighting and bad cutting job--you get the idea--3 amazing layers of deliciousness.


  1. WOW. This looks awesome. I will be trying it this weekend!

  2. Looks delicious! (Is delicious!) That crumb layer step IS a pain. But this recipe also make great cupcakes ;)


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