Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Brad's Birthday Cake

Over the weekend we celebrated Brad's, my brother-in-law, 40th birthday. I was so excited to make this wonderful chocolate peanut butter cake for him. I made this same cake for my sister's 40th birthday earlier this year and everyone loved it. It consists of two layers of rich, dark chocolate cake, filled and covered with creamy peanut butter cream cheese frosting, and then covered with shiny, dark chocolate ganache. The cake is made with dark cocoa powder so it has that really dark chocolaty color. For the cake I used Martha Stewart's recipe "One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes". I doubled the recipe to make two 10 inch rounds and 12 cupcakes. I have used this recipe at least a dozen times and it always turns out perfectly. Not too sweet and super moist. It is so easy because you don't even need a mixer, you just throw everything into one bowl and stir it up. Yes, it's that easy. I've seen some versions of this recipe call for milk and others for buttermilk. I always use buttermilk. Buttermilk always results in a really moist cake. Here is the recipe:

Martha Stewart's One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1 1/4 C unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder (I use Hershey's Special Dark)

  • 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour

  • 2 1/2 C sugar

  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • 1 1/4 tsp table salt

  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 1/4 warm water

  • 1 1/4 C buttermilk

  • 1/2 C plus 2 Tbs (1 1/4 sticks) butter, melted and cooled

  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 F. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners. Or spray two 8 by 2 inch round pans with cooking spray, line with parchment paper and spray parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Add liquid ingredients to the bowl and whisk together.

Fill cupcake liners halfway and bake for about 20 minutes.

Cool for ten minutes before removing from pans.

* For 10 inch cakes, bake for 50-55 minutes.

* For 8 inch cakes, bake 45 minutes.

See! Wasn't that easy?

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 8oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature...that's one pound

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature

  • 2 lbs confectioners sugar

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Beat cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter together on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar, mix until smooth.

For the ganache:

  • 2 C heavy cream

  • 1 lb dark chocolate

Bring 2 cups of heavy cream to a boil. Remove from heat. Pour the cream over 1 pound of chopped dark chocolate. Stir until smooth. Let the ganache cool and thicken to a pourable consistency.

To assemble the cake:

After the cakes have cooled completely, wrap them in plastic, return the wrapped cakes to the pans, and let the cakes chill in the refrigerator for an hour or overnight. Before frosting the cakes they need to be leveled. Using a serrated knife, I just eyeball the cake, use a sawing motion to remove the hump on the cake. My cakes are never perfectly level. Who's perfect, anyway?

Once the cakes have been leveled, place one of the cakes onto a cardboard round or cake plate, cut side up and cover the top with a thick layer of frosting. I frost the cakes by filling a pastry bag with frosting and attaching a decorating icer tip, wilton 789 icing tip. This helps the frosting go on the cake more evenly.

Next, place the second cake evenly over the first layer. Frost the top and then the sides of the cake. You want the icing to be smooth because the ganache will be poured over it and you will see any imperfections in the icing. After the cake is frosted return it to the refrigerator to chill for about an hour or overnight. This will firm up the icing so the ganache can be poured over it.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for ten minutes. Before pouring the ganache place the cake on a rack set over a sheet pan, which will catch the ganache that runs off the cake. Begin pouring the ganache over the top of the cake making sure it runs evenly over the sides. You must work quickly to cover the cake with the ganache so it doesn't set before you are finished covering the cake. You can use a metal spatula to carefully cover any missed places on the sides of the cake. Do not run the spatula over the cake though, or the ganache will lose its shine. Let the cake sit out and at room temperature and allow the ganache to set.

Finish the cake by adding desired decorations, however, the cake looks great all by itself. For the flower decorations I bought some ready-to-use fondant and tinted it blue, and then I used flower shaped cutters in three sizes to make the flowers. This was my first time to work with fondant and I will definitely be experimenting with it more. I thought the fondant flowers looked great.

I used swiss meringue buttercream to pipe a border and write on the cake.

Beware! This cake is extremely rich. Cut small slices and serve with hot coffee or a cold glass of milk.

I also made vanilla bean cupcakes with swiss meringue buttercream because I know there are some crazy people out there that just don't like chocolate. Those crazies weren't at the party.

We had a lot of left over vanilla cupcakes. Not so much cake.


  1. Cake was delicious. You and Mom did a great job with the party!

  2. kristin -- that was such a beautiful cake -- thank you for all of your clandestine effort!