Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

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Our brother Luke turns sweet 16 during the first week of September, and since we’ll be away at college on the actual day, we decided to celebrate early with an ultra-sweet dessert. After looking through our many cookbooks and baking books, he gave a pretty low-maintenance request: something with chocolate and peanut butter. We’d had our eyes set on this cake recipe for a bit and had a feeling that it would be a hit.

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Picture a Reese’s peanut butter cup in cake form, and that’s this decadent dessert. Fluffy chocolate cake layers have a bit of ganache between them, and the whole thing is filled and frosted with the best peanut butter frosting we’ve had. We really love the one that ices these brownies, but this one was perfect for this cake with its lightness yet stability and spreadability. One note- while this cake was awesome at room temperature, it was even better when chilled. Just delicious!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Serves about 16

Recipe from The Baker Chick, cake base originally adapted from Martha Stewart

We’re including instructions for doubling the frosting recipe since Audra of the original recipe frosted it as a naked cake, and we wanted a more traditional look. You’ll have a little frosting leftover- it’s delightful off of a spoon!

Ingredients:

For the cake:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ cups sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
4½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the ganache:

4.5 oz chocolate, chopped (we used half milk chocolate, and half dark, which we really liked!)
½ cup heavy cream

For the frosting:

24 tablespoons of butter, softened (3 sticks)
2 cups creamy peanut butter
6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks (do this in the bowl you plan to mix the frosting in first, transfer to a small bowl, and then proceed to the rest of the frosting so you don’t have to wash the bowl in between)

Chopped peanut butter cups, for garnish

Directions:

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3-8″ cake pans, and line with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Stir the wet ingredients into dry until the batter is smooth.

Divide batter amongst the pans and bake for 20-30 mins, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool.

For the ganache:

Put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream on a stovetop until it just barely begins to simmer (it’ll be steaming). Pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Transfer to the fridge to cool and solidify.

For the frosting:

Cream the butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until evenly combined. Let the mixer run on medium speed for another minute. Fold in the whipped cream until smooth.

Place the first cake layer on a cake stand and spread with half of the ganache. Add about 3/4 cup of peanut butter frosting (you’ll have plenty, so use as much as you’d like depending on your preferred frosting:cake ratio) over the ganache and spread. Repeat with the next layer, and then place the final layer on top. Cover the whole cake with frosting in a smooth layer, and garnish with chopped peanut butter cups. Enjoy!

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