Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake

4:38 PM

My husband loves chocolate; sometimes I think he might love it even more than I do!  More than just chocolate, he loves chocolate and peanut butter.  We recently celebrated his birthday and this cake was his request (as it has been for a couple years now).

Three layers of sour cream chocolate cake is enough to get my attention.  Pair that with cream cheese peanut butter frosting and a chocolate peanut butter ganache and it's more than enough to get a chocolate-peanut butter lover to drool.

A word of warning - this cake is rich - I mean, really rich!  Start out with a small piece, a tall glass of milk, and invite over some friends!  The recipe specifies that you use a commercial brand of peanut butter (i.e. Skippy, Jif, etc...).  However, this last time I made the cake without checking to see if we had any peanut butter.  Of course, we had just run out, so I ended up using an all-natural unsweetened peanut butter instead. As it turned out, I liked it better - cutting back just a bit on the sweetness really helped.  I'll definitely be making it this way in the future.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake

  • 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 vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (optional - I haven't tried this yet, but I'd love to)
  • Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Frosting (see below for recipe)
  • Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache (see below for recipe)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8 or 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. 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. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. 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: These cakes are very, very soft. Once cool, put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes and they'll be oh-so-much easier to work with. Don't worry, they'll defrost before you want to eat them. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Cream Cheese 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. (*Note: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating.)

Once the cake is fully frosted, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze. I like make the cake a day ahead up to this point and put it in the refrigerator over night. The next day you can put the glaze on it.  In fact, I find that this cake actually tastes better chilled, so I keep it in the fridge the whole time. 

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Ganache, simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake.  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. (Do this slowly!) Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely.  Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 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 (as I mentioned above, I like it with all-natural unsweetened peanut butter) 

1. 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.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.  

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (unsweetened)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk

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

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk, stirring until smooth. Use while still warm.

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