Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cake

PBChococake2

One of my favorite things to do for visiting friends is baking them something that they’ll love. Whenever I ask, “what do you want me to make,” more often than not I’m met with, “oh, I don’t know; just surprise me.” With a plethora of options that overwhelm me, I then start to dig so I can find out what their favorite flavor combinations are. For our friend Micah, chocolate and peanut butter were at the top of his list. This classic combination makes for a delicious and satisfying dessert for any occasion.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted (Dutch-processed is best)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee OR stout beer

For the buttercream:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons heavy cream (optional)

For the ganache:

  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

 

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour four 6-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. *
  3. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Turn to low.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet about 1/3 at a time, scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed.
  6. Add the coffee slowly down the sides of the bowl until well combined.
  7. Pour batter into the cake pans, about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake for about 22-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the middle should come out clean with a few crumbs attached.
  9. Let the cake cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before flipping them out onto cooling racks. Once on the cooling racks, allow the cakes to completely cool before attempting to decorate.

*There may be some extra batter. I just made a fifth pan and kept if for myself, or you can crumble it and keep it in the freezer for ice cream topping.

For the buttercream:

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until light in color and smooth.
  2. Add peanut butter and mix on medium speed until smooth and well combined, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  3. Add vanilla and half of the powdered sugar. Mix at low speed until combined, and then increase to medium-high speed until fluffy. Add a tablespoon of heavy cream at this point, if desired. Repeat with remaining powdered sugar until all ingredients are combined and fluffy.

For the ganache:

  1. Combine peanut butter chips and heavy cream into a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and combined.
  2. Remove from heat and allow ganache to cool completely.

Assemble the cake!

  1. Place a completely cooled cake on a decorating plate and add enough buttercream to cover the surface of the cake. I like to use a piping bag to distribute and an offset spatula to smooth and even the frosting out. Place another cake on top of the frosting and repeat until you’ve used all four cake rounds.
  2. If desired, frost the entire cake. I prefer the naked cake look. There are a billion tutorials online to look up for your preferred frosting method. Experiment! Press chopped peanuts or peanut butter chips into the side, etc.
  3. Place cake in the refrigerator for at least an hour of the freezer for 20 minutes to set frosting. Pull the cake out and allow it to come back to, or close to, room temperature.
  4. Drizzle the ganache on the top layer of cake, allowing any drips to run down the sides. To make them even, you may choose to use a piping bag or squeeze bottle tool. As you can see in my picture, I started decorating with the ganache too early and the drips froze in a gloppy way to the sides. Not nearly as pretty as I would have liked, so be careful. No matter how it looks, it will still taste DELICIOUS!
  5. HAVE FUN! Decorate however your heart desires, and enjoy this scrumptious cake!

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