Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

For my birthday I got to have a whole extra hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time!  This was my last birthday before I turn 30, so I better make this year count.  I've got my 30 Before 30 to try to complete, and hopefully I'll cross off a few more things from my Culinary To Make List.  But I'll tell you what, making the trek over to Europe was a nice addition to my late 20s.  Kevin and I recently spent three weeks in France and Italy and had an absolute blast!  We were definitely not ready to come home yet.

Positano, Italy

Since my birthday is the week after Halloween, sometimes I like to incorporate leftover candy into my cake.  A few years ago I made mini ice cream "cakes" with peanut butter cups as the base.  Line muffin tins with foil cupcake liners, then put in a peanut butter cup.  In a separate bowl, mix some ice cream with peanut butter, then spoon it over the peanut butter cup filling the muffin cup.  Top with salted peanuts and press down.  Cover with foil and freeze until ready to eat.  Remove foil wrapper before plating, then drizzle with chocolate syrup and serve.

This year I hoarded all the leftover peanut butter cups again so I could make a cake with the chocolate and peanut butter combination.  I ended up doing a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting topped with chopped peanut butter cups.  It was delicious, but very rich, best sampled in smaller pieces.

Reese’s Cup Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Adapted from Annie's Eats (cake originally from Dorie Greenspan, frosting from Ina Garten)

Chocolate Cake:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Peanut Butter Frosting:
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 cups creamy peanut butter
10 Tbsp (1 stick plus 2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
miniature Reese’s cups, halved and/or chopped

For the cake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350.  Butter two 9×2” round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.  Place the pans on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.  Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until thoroughly blended into the butter.  Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the vanilla.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients).  Mix each addition only until it is blended into the batter.  Scrape down the bowl and add the melted chocolate, folding it in with a spatula.  Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 26-30 minutes or until the cakes feel springy to the touch and start to pull away from the sides of the pans.  Transfer to wire racks to cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners.  Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

While the cake is cooling, make the frosting by combining confectioners sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed.  Add the cream, and beat on high speed until smooth.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a plate or cardboard circle covered in foil.  Spread peanut butter frosting on top of the cake layer.  (If desired, sprinkle with chopped Reese’s cups.)  Place the second cake layer on top of the frosting.  Frost the top and outside of the cake with remaining peanut butter frosting.  Decorate with halved and chopped Reese’s cups as desired.


  1. Hi, Sarah! Glad the cookies arrived intact ... I hope you like them. How funny that you were just recently in Italy! And wow, this cake looks amazing ... I love chocolate and peanut butter. I've never done a cake, but I've done cupcakes ... I'll have to try your recipe next time!

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