5.22.2013

Made | Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Here's something I've noticed as I get older: not everybody grew up thinking birthdays were the bee's knees. Isn't that crazy? I've also noticed that I take it as my responsibility to reveal to them how awesome—and delicious—birthdays can be. Let's start with Mike. 

Cyndi made this cake to celebrate her and Zander's anniversary, so I luckily had a firsthand account of what it's like to make this. I have a bit of anxiety when it comes to making cakes from scratch. They always look better in the pictures! But I knew Deb wouldn't let me down; her recipes are always on par with her awesome pictures. So after much hemming and hawing, I buttered my pans, lined them with parchment paper, and lined them again! (Note: The recipe calls for three layers, but I have only two pretty deep cake pans, so I went with that. It turned out great and there was no spillage.) Then I gathered my ingredients.
I'm usually a spontaneous baker, so gathering my ingredients beforehand and buttering the pans as directed was a huge step in the right direction for me, and it shone through in the cake. They baked up in 35 minutes and I let them cool for a good 20 minutes before even thinking about touching them. After 20 minutes, I turned them over onto more parchment paper on top of my wire rack.  
Then I froze them while I made the peanut butter icing. I made this on a beautiful warm day, so freezing them to make them easier to handle was a no-brainer.
And I assembled my peanut butter icing ingredients. 
And proceeded to make a big mess. Powdered sugar and hand mixers aren't friends.
I pulled out my frozen layers and assembled! What you see below is a crumb layer of peanut butter frosting. I then chilled the whole thing and applied the rest of the frosting. 
While that chilled in the fridge (and after a good 15 minutes trying to rearrange everything to fit a cake pan in there), I assembled my chocolate ganache ingredients (not pictured: peanut butter!).
I was all excited about using my new baking scale for this recipe, but alas all of the ingredients were in volume measurements. But you bet I jumped at the chance to measure out 8 ounces of chocolate from the Trader Joe's pound of chocolate I bought for the occasion. 

Chop, chop!
Combine the corn syrup, chocolate, and peanut butter in a double boiler (or your preferred chocolate melting method; I just bought this handy boiler insert from IKEA recently), and stir until melted. Remove it all from the heat and mix in your half and half.
It glistens!
Dump all of that glistening chocolate ganache on top of your finished cake with peanut butter icing and you've just raised the stakes.
Spread it out until it runs down the sides. (Note: My ganache didn't turn out as liquidy and oozy as Deb's did, which I attribute to my boiler being too close to the bottom of the pot when I melted it. Slower melting is better and makes for a more even ganache.)
But still, no complaints.
Pop that sucker in the fridge until you're ready to serve or for at least 30 minutes to let the icing set. Throw some birthday candles in there and get your friend with a sprained ankle boot on to carry it into the living room. 
Watch birthdays become magical again.
Recipe after the jump.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
For the 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 vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans (I used two deep 9-inch pans). Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk, then gradually beat in the water. Whisk in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat. Make sure your batter is mixed well before pouring into your pans.

3. 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. Place onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. I also lined the rack with parchment paper to keep crumbling messes to a minimum. After about 10 minutes on the rack, I placed the whole rack into the freezer for easier handling, as recommended by Deb.

4. To frost the cake: place one layer, flat side up, on your serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup of the peanut butter frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer, frosting the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. (I also did a crumb layer of frosting as recommended by Deb. Leave a little bit of frosting and spread it on after the first layer has been chilled.)

5. To decorate with the chocolate peanut butter glaze: Dump the glaze on top of the cake, and spread it evenly over the top 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 an hour before serving.

Peanut Butter Frosting

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
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

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

1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Whisk 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.

2 comments:

AbbieBabble said...

I have been wanting to make that cake since I first spotted it on Smitten Kitchen years ago. Chocolate and peanut butter, what can possibly be better?

Bekuh Browning said...

This looks melt in your mouth good! I'm not very good at baking, but this makes me want to try.