Back in my kitchen after the holidays and kicking off 2016 with one of my favorite flavor combinations: chocolate and peanut butter! Seriously, how can you go wrong with those two flavors? You can't. It's a classic combination, and one that will please just about everyone's taste buds.
For this cake, I made my dark chocolate cake layers and paired it with a whipped peanut butter frosting. I decided to go with a slightly lighter frosting that uses whipped cream because the cake itself is so rich. I have another peanut butter frosting that I like, but it uses cream cheese and I felt like that might be too heavy with this cake. I think you'll love this frosting. I made sure to save myself a little to top cake scraps with, but I ended up just eating the left over frosting straight from a spoon. No shame.
Wishing so badly this cake was for me so I could be eating it right now, but hopefully the birthday girl enjoys it as much as I do!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Yields: One 6-layer, 8-inch round cake
For the Rich, Dark Chocolate Cake (adapted from Sweetapolita)
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder (or similar premium brand)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting (recipe source: Annie's Eats)
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, divided
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt
For the Rich, Dark Chocolate Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8” round cake pans (butter or spray, line bottom with parchment paper, butter or spray paper and dust with flour).
2. In a bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients. Set aside.
3. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and lightly beat with a fork.
4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix on medium speed for two minutes. Batter will be thin. Scrape sides and mix for another 30 seconds. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans (I like to use a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed).
5. Bake for 25-27 minutes (you may need more time depending on your oven), until toothpick comes out almost clean. Cool on wire racks for 10-15 minutes, then gently invert onto racks until cooled completely.
6. When cakes are completely cooled, I like to wrap each cake layer individually with plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigerator or freezer until I’m ready to frost. The cake will be easier to work with if it’s cooled a bit. If I’m making the cake a day or two before I actually need to frost it, I put it in the freezer to ensure freshness. If I’m frosting same-day, I’ll just put it in the refrigerator to chill until needed.
For the Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting
1. Combine the heavy cream and 1/4 cup of the confectioners' sugar in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until light, fluffy and stiff peaks form, being careful not to over mix.
2. Transfer the whipped cream to a separate bowl. In the now empty bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and peanut butter. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 45 seconds.
3. Add the remaining confectioners' sugar to the bowl and mix in, slowly at first until incorporated, then increasing the mixer speed to high. Blend in the vanilla extract and salt, and continue to whip on high speed until very fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. Use a large spatula to gently fold about a third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter frosting. Once the first additional has been evenly incorporated, gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no streaks remain.