Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Peanut butter and chocolate are one of my very favorite flavor combinations. As a kid peanut butter cups were my very favorite candy, and that's what inspired this cake! Dense, rich chocolate paired with light and creamy peanut butter buttercream. If you know a chocolate peanut butter lover, you've got to make this cake for them!

The peanut butter buttercream is where I spent the most time in the recipe for this cake. I wanted the peanut butter flavor to be present and strong enough, but I didn't want it to be overpowering. I've had peanut butter frosting before that had so much peanut butter and so much powdered sugar, that it was almost tacky in my mouth. While I have to admit I have eaten spoonfuls of peanut butter before (guilty!), that's not the feeling I wanted in a cake.

I'm so happy with how it turned out. It's creamy and melt-in-your-mouth good, with all the peanut butter flavor we all love!

Side note: be sure to use creamy peanut butter, even if you normally prefer crunchy. The peanuts in the crunchy peanut butter will not only be difficult to frost, they'll actually pull at the cake itself and make it a crumbly mess.

This is a really quick and easy cake to make! I like to break up the different steps, which makes it even easier. The day before serving, I bake the cakes. Then I store them in the freezer overnight, wrapped well in plastic wrap AND a freezer plastic bag. I don't want the cakes drying out! Then the next day, all I have to do is frost it, and do the ganache drip. You can also prepare the frosting the day before (or up to 4 days in advance), if you'd like.

Chocolate Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder (I used dark chocolate cocoa powder because I wanted them really intense)
  • 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (two sticks)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste 
  • optional garnish: mini peanut butter cups
Dark Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
Cake Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line the bottom of three 6" round cake pans. Set aside.

In a small pan, heat the butter and coffee until the mixture is steaming and the butter is melted. Take off the burner and let cool.

Whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through baking soda.

Mix together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Add the butter mixture once cooled. If the butter mixture is still too hot when you mix these together, the egg will cook.

Add the dry ingredients into the now combined wet ingredients in two batches. Fold together until just combined. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes - until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them upside down on a cooling rack to cool completely. This will help create a flatter top for each layer.

After the cakes have come to room temperature, wrap well in plastic wrap and set flat in the freezer for at least an hour. This will make frosting easier, and will help the ganache set more quickly. 

Peanut Butter Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache Directions: 

Whip the butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, and then add the vanilla extract and salt as needed.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate chips and heavy cream together in a small bowl. Spread the peanut butter buttercream between each cake layer and the outside of the cake. Drip the chocolate ganache over top. I like to fill this squeeze bottle with the ganache. I find it more easy to control the drip that way, versus a spoon! Decorate with peanut butter cups!

Kirsten Bell

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