Monday, January 31, 2011

chocolate peanut butter cake

Sixty is a big birthday, and it deserves a big cake. Though my dad mainly wanted his family gathered together and would have been happy with a tub of Blue Bell or a repeat of the delicious chocolate blob my family requests all the time, I wanted him to have something special to slice into when we celebrated his birthday last month.

Once again — thank you, Deb. I picked her chocolate peanut butter cake because a) it's a combo Dad loves and b) a cake like that will always be a hit.

Photo by Miguel. Beyond the flowing chocolate is my breakfast taco and
a library book on apple pie that I'm hoping to bake from soon.

As far as baking goes, it was nothing too complicated — just lots of bowls to separately mix up the cake batter, peanut butter frosting and the chocolate-peanut butter glaze. I found that I really liked making a three-layer, 8-inch cake that's nice and tall. A birthday cake must have presence! I also felt like this was the first time I'd mastered the technique of slathering on a crumb coat, which was good because the chocolate cake crumbs could have been really noticeable under such a pale-colored frosting. On the other hand, it didn't matter too much in the end because of the dousing of shiny chocolate that goes over the whole thing. Maybe this is a trick I should keep up my sleeve next time a cake's frosting turns out to be less than immaculate. In other words, this could top every cake I make from now on.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Via Smitten Kitchen and originally from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer 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 neutral vegetable oil

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

Handful of honey roasted peanuts or coarsely chopped peanut brittle for topping

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 and whisk to combine them. 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 three prepared cake pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a 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. Let the layers sit in the freezer for 30 minutes so they're easier to handle.

Peanut Butter Frosting

Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick 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)

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.

Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

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 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 a thin layer of frosting and stick it in the freezer for a while — 10 minutes or so. Then frost with the remaining frosting and put the whole thing back in to chill while making the glaze.

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

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.

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

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 use an offset spatula to 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.


  1. Wow, wow, wow. There is so much to love here--a doozy of a cake, a big birthday, Blue Bell, a breakfast taco, and a library book! I am also rather entranced by the idea of dousing every bad frosting job with a a chocolate cover!


  2. it seems like a good fix, huh? i'm thinking maybe your blog anniversary calls for cake!

  3. Oooohh, the sight of that thick chocolate dripping down the sides of your cake is gorgeous. Double frosting = doubly delicious. I have a sweet treat linky on my blog every week called "Sweets for a Saturday" and I'd like to invite you to stop by this weekend and link your cake up.

  4. So beautifulllllll. You forgot the part about how overdue that library book is.

  5. Thanks, Lisa!

    Melissa, did I tell you I got a letter that said I owed the library $30?! But then I returned it and it was only $8.75. They'd assumed I was keeping the apple pie book forever and were charging me for the whole book.

  6. I made this recipe for my husband's birthday a few years ago, and it went straight into "favorite" category. So so decadent!