Death by Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

Death by Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

I’m obsessed with birthday cakes.  I think EVERYBODY needs a birthday cake for their birthday, and not just a ho-hum sheet cake, but something really spectacular.  I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that for my birthday, I have to make my own cake, as no one else (ahem Frank) is capable of doing that for me.  My mother told me, on my birthday phone call, “Welcome to the real world!” when I told her I made my own cake.  I’m not completely sure what that means, because I’ve always done so, and she’s never made me a cake at all…

But, back to this monstrosity you see before you.  I’m sure you’ve seen it on SmittenKitchen.  If you haven’t, let me explain what it is: three layers of chocolate sour cream cake, covered in a peanut butter buttercream, and drenched in chocolate-peanut butter ganache.  It’s insanity.  I KNEW it was my 27th birthday cake.  And, yes, I knew it would be the largest time commitment EVER.  And, yes, I know it was about 100 degrees in my birthday and trying bake and frost a cake in our crazy hot kitchen was going to be a hot mess (literally).  And, yeah, I kind of got heat stroke after we went strawberry picking that day (more on that later), but it all turned out perfect and every one in attendence to my birthday grill-out/bocce ball party was obsessed.

Just a word of warning: this cake is REALLY delicate.  It crumbles so easily, and getting it out of the pans can be kind of hard.  Freezing the cake layers in plastic wrap really helps–I did it a day ahead of time.  Another word of warning: because the cake layers are so delicate, the cake can fall apart after it is frosted and ganached.  My cake started to split down the side from the weight of all the toppings, and by the end of the evening an entire side fell off, but no one cared.  And luckily its fall was broken by the adorable silver lazy susan I bought at a garage sale that morning.  Oh, and by the way, sorry no pictures of the inside of the cake, but we lost all interest in photographing it after we cut into it.  So check out Deb’s amazing photos on Smitten Kitchen to see the gooey insides.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
(recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

For the cake:

2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream (I used plain yogurt, and it turned out fine)
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.  Grease that too.

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and whisk together.  Beat in the water, then the vinegar and vanilla and eggs.  Mix well, then divide amongst the three pans equally.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick comes out almost clean.

Let the cakes cool in the pans and then remove.  BE CAREFUL!  At this point you can freeze the cakes until ready to frost (recipe follows).

Peanut Butter Frosting:

10 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (not natural)

Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add the sugar one cup at a time until combined.  Add the peanut butter and continue to mix until everything is fluffy and blended together.

Frost the cake, using the frosting as a filling between layers.  It might help to make a bit of a crumb coating first as the cakes are so delicate.  Prepare the ganache.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache:

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

In a double boiler, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup.  Whist until the mixture is melted.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half.  Pour it over the cake while it is still warm.  It is okay if it drips off the sides of the cake–just make sure your cake is on a plate or a cardboard disc with about a 1-inch rim all around to catch the yummy, drippy, amazing ganache.

This cake kept about 4 days in our house, covered.  We tried a piece after about 6 days, though, and it was pretty gross.  4 days was just fine ;)

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