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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I have been promising David for two years that I would make him a homemade Birthday cake. The first year was a matter of logistics and just didn't have a place to bake one, so I bought a perfectly good cake from a bakery in Victoria and promised that I would make a "real" cake later. Well, by last March (his birthday month) I still had not made his cake from the previous year yet. So, I knew that I would have to make one for sure. Then disaster struck, the cake he picked was a total failure. He wanted those chocolate molten lava cakes. Well, actually he wanted the cake his mother used to make, but that is another story for another post. Anyway... the lava cakes were problematic as you are supposed to wait for them to harden in the fridge before you bake them and well...I didn't. David's Birthday cakes were a big gloppy mess! So it appears that I now owe him two birthday cakes and if I don't get on it, three in March. When one of my co-workers brought in this Peanut Butter Chocolate cake that his girlfriend had made for a reception at work, I knew it would be the perfect cake for one of David's birthday cakes. He let his girlfriend know and she directed me to Smitten Kitchen for the recipe. This past weekend I baked the cakes and like everyone warned they were incredibly soft. I also knew that we probably were not up to the 3 layer version, so I only made two layers and a few cupcakes as well. I wrapped them in plastic and put them in the freezer. Last night when I got home from work I made the frosting. After dinner I removed the cakes from the freezer and spread the frosting. This seemed to work really well as I had none of the crumb problems that other people had mentioned. The only problem I had is once the frosting was on we really wanted to eat this cake. I was barely able to get a photo. So, we skipped the ganache altogether. If I was taking this cake somwhere I would probably use a little ganache for decoration, but not nearly as much as the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake post on Smitten Kitchen. Although it is a beautiful picture, this cake is really rich without the ganache and I think it might just be over the top for us. So, finally I think I have one birthday cake down, one to go! Happy Birthday David! Thanks for being so patient!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
from Smitten Kitchen
Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake; serves 12 to 16
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

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. 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. (Deb note: These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. 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 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. (Deb note 1: 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. Deb note 2: Once the cake is fully frosting, 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.)

5. 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. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

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, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

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 Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

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.

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


  1. i saw this recipe on smitten kitchen and made it too. SO delicious! It was like a giant peanut butter cup only better.

  2. I have made this one several times. I ended up buying the book and all the cakes from Sky High are amazing. It has been a year since I brought one to work and I still get asked if I am making it for every event. A winner for sure.


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