It’s my birthday!!!! Well, almost. My birthday’s in 2 days. But it’s my Mama’s birthday! In my book, (and in anyone’s book, if they’re normal) 2 birthdays in a week calls for cake. Beautiful, decadent cake.
For her birthday, I wanted to make a cake that would be sweet, crunchy, chocolate-y, and impressive. I knew I’d make a peanut butter chocolate cake- because one, was there ever a combination better than that? And two, see number one.
So! Peanut butter! Chocolate! Decadence! This is a double layer, chocolate cake, filled with chocolate whipped cream, topped with a crunchy peanut butter buttercream, a dark chocolate ganache, and homemade peanut caramel shards. Five components, but none of them are too hard to make, and together, they result in a cake that’s just perfect: fluffy, moist, flavorful, and distinctly Snickers-like.
It was a wonderful end to the surprise party we made her (we had sushi, a cheese board, and glorious gold tapers) and when I served it after a meal with family, it was gone in an instant, with people taking seconds and thirds. Happy birthday Mom!!! I love you so much. Here’s to many more years of eating cake together. ♥♥♥♥
Yield: 1 double layer 8″ cake
Why I love this recipe: this cake is Ina Garten’s chocolate cake, and it’s my go-to recipe: moist, not too cocoa-y, and adaptable to anything. The peanut-butter buttercream is sweet, a touch salty, and has an endearing crunch from the peanuts, and the chocolate whipped cream adds a lightness to the cake. The chocolate ganache adds a decadent touch, and the caramel shards, faintly peanutty, tie it all together, for stunning presentation and the final sweet touch.
For the cake:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
For the buttercream:
- 3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the chocolate whipped cream:
- 3 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
For the chocolate ganache:
- 8 oz. dark chocolate
- 1 cup heavy cream
For the peanut caramel shards:
- 1/2 cup salted, roasted peanut halves
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8×2 inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
- Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
- In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.
- With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting: cream the peanut butter and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed.
- On low speed, mix in sugar and salt until combined, then beat mixture on high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Set aside until needed.
- When the cakes are done, cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
- Male the chocolate whipped cream: beat heavy cream on medium speed until thick and fluffy. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler until smooth and shiny.
- Add the chocolate to the whipped cream and beat mixture for a few more seconds to combine, folding in if needed.
- Once cool, trim the cake layers so they lay flat. Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a cake pedestal. With an offset spatula, spread the top with the chocolate cream.
- Place the second cake layer on top, and crumb coat the cake. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. When ready, spread the rest of the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.
- Make the peanut caramel: in a small saucepan combine the sugar, water and honey and bring to a boil, without stirring.
- Once the mixture starts to caramelize remove from the stove and allow it to darken and thicken for about 5 minutes, stirring slightly so it won’t set up on the bottom of the pan.
- Spread the peanuts on a baking sheet. Pour the caramel mixture over the peanuts. Let harden, around 25 minutes. Once hard, crack into long shards. Set aside until needed.
- Make the ganache: place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl; set aside. Place cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Pour over chocolate and let stand until chocolate has softened, about 5-10 minutes. Stir until smooth and glossy.
- Take the (trimmed, cream-filled, frosted!) cake and pour ganache over, letting it drip slightly down the sides. While the ganache is soft, top with caramel shards. Serve to happy recipients!