The Ultimate Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

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So, yeah.  This might be a bit over the top.  It’s also messy, frumpy, and haphazard.

But really, who cares?  When it comes to chocolate and peanut butter, you just can’t go wrong.  You just can’t.  And honestly, I love a cake that looks homemade.  I love soft, fluffy frosting, irregular and imperfect frosting techniques and drizzles, garnishes and sprinkles…

Do NOT offer me a cake covered in fondant and shaped like some cartoon character.  It reminds me of the “bleedin’ armadillo groom’s cake” from Steel Magnolias, and cake should look like cake.  Not a farm animal.  And PS – have you ever tasted fondant?  Even the “good” fondant tastes like, well…it doesn’t taste like buttercream.  We’ll just leave it at that.

I’m kind of snotty about that, but I realize it’s probably just me, so I digress.

This cake though – THIS CAKE – it’s you know, just the best flavor combo in the history of time.  Who (besides my husband) doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter?

Probably the same people who like fondant.

No hate mail, please.

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Although this cake looks a bit tedious, it’s actually quite easy.  The cake is my FAV chocolate cake ever, the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe – because it’s a one-bowl recipe, it’s sturdy enough to hold anything you want to pile on top of it, and it’s SO.  YUM.

A stand mixer makes easy work of the frosting, but if you don’t have one it’s no biggie – as long as your butter and cream cheese are softened, you can easily use a hand mixer.  And the chocolate ganache is seriously just butter and chocolate melted together.

Easy peasy.

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This also happens to be my birthday cake.  Another incredible year has come and gone,and while a lot has changed in the last 12 months, and while I haven’t been able to blog as much as I’d like, I think things are finally settling down and I’m going to hopefully be able blog a little more frequently, very soon.

It’s funny when you look back on the last year and realize how quickly it’s gone, but also just how much STUFF you’ve done. I’ve switched jobs.  Raised two little humans to be another year older.  Taken amazing vacations.  Celebrated weddings, babies, life.

This is why there’s peanut butter and chocolate, folks.  To celebrate life.

‘Cause what better way?

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So, a few tips are in order here.  While this is a pretty darn easy cake to put together, there are a few things that will make it go a little more smoothly for you.  First, when you’re assembling the cake, stack it all up and put it in the fridge for a few minutes to help the frosting stabilize.  It’s a very creamy frosting, so if you try to frost it without stabilizing the layers, it will move all over the place and fall apart.  No good.

Secondly, once you have it all frosted and pretty, AGAIN, put it in the fridge to let the frosting harden a bit before you pour the ganache over the top.  And along those lines, allow the ganache to cool just a bit before pouring it over your cake.

Hot ganache + creamy buttercream = big old mess.

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Finally, before you start chopping your peanut butter cups, stick THEM in the refrigerator for a bit, too.  They get super melty, so your life will be easier and your cake will be prettier if you harden them up for a while.

And then also – good luck cutting and serving this cake.  There’s no good way.  I’m not even gonna lie to you.  But it totally doesn’t matter because who cares when we’re talking about peanut butter and chocolate??

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Oh, and also.  MILK.  Like, a jug of it.  Cold, and in mass quantities.

You’ll need it to get through this guy.

Thanks everyone for another great year – Lemon Sugar is so rewarding and is such a big part of my life these days, and is definitely one of the many reasons I have so much to celebrate this year.  Happy Birthday to me, and thanks, thanks, THANKS for following me here in my little corner of the interwebs.

xoxo.

Don’t forget, if you haven’t yet, make sure you stop by my Facebook page and follow along – you can also find me on TwitterInstagram and Pinterest!

Thanks for stopping by today!  Leave me a comment below so I know you were here!

♥erin

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
If you can't get enough of the chocolate and peanut butter combo, this cake is for you. Chocolate cake is frosted with creamy peanut butter frosting and topped with a silky chocolate ganache and TONS of peanut butter candies. Get your stretchy pants on and grab a big glass of milk - and enjoy! Recipe source: Slightly adapted from Make Bake Celebrate
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
Cake Ingredients:
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 and ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and ⅓ cups cocoa powder
  • 2 and ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 and ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 and ½ cups milk
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and ½ cups boiling water
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but cool
  • 8 oz (1 box) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
Ganache topping:
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
Garnish:
  • Chopped Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Candies (I used one bag of bite-size and 8 full-size cups)
Instructions
Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. Prepare three 8-inch round pans with cooking spray and parchment rounds. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all cake ingredients except boiling water (sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and cocoa powder.)
  4. With a hand mixer, beat until just combined.
  5. Add boiling water, and carefully beat until just combined again. Use a spatula to clean sides of bowl, and beat one more time.
  6. Evenly distribute batter between three cake pans (I use a kitchen scale to help).
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake-tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and cool completely.
Frosting:
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add peanut butter and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Use a spatula to clean the sides of the bowl, and beat again.
  3. Add confectioners sugar and heavy cream, and beat until smooth.
Ganache
  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, slowly melt butter. Remove from heat.
  2. Immediately add chocolate, and allow the heat to melt the butter, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth.
  3. Set aside to cool slightly - for about 10 minutes.
Assembly:
  1. Once cake is cool, place bottom layer on cake plate.
  2. Using an offset spatula, smooth about a cup of frosting over the cake.
  3. Add second layer, and repeat with another cup of frosting.
  4. Add the top layer. Use the spatula to smooth the frosting around the outside of the cake, and refrigerate for 15 minutes to help solidify the cake layers.
  5. Remove cake from refrigerator, and spoon a large mound of frosting on the top layer (about 2 cups worth) and smooth the frosting over the top and sides of cake. Add more frosting as needed to completely cover the cake.
  6. Smooth frosting into an even layer on the tops and sides.
  7. Return cake to refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes to chill the frosting. Prepare the ganache during this time.
  8. Once chilled, pour the slightly-cooled ganache over top of the cake, slowly, starting in the middle of the cake.
  9. Once the ganache begins to drip over the sides of the cake, stop pouring.
  10. Top with chopped peanut butter cup candies, and drizzle with another bit of ganache.
  11. Refrigerate again for 10-15 minutes.
  12. Cut 8 full-size peanut butter cups in half. Use them to rim the bottom of the cake.
  13. Enjoy!

leave a comment your way - using facebook or disqus:

  • Laura@bakinginpyjamas

    Oh my, cake heaven! Pinned.

  • Laura Strnad

    Chocolate and peanut butter a match made in heaven.

  • Debbie

    I usually make ganache using good quality dark chocolate and double cream (I think the US refers to this as heavy cream). Is there a particular reason for using butter? Definitely making this for my hubby’s birthday this coming Monday ~ I know he’ll love it!

    • lemonsugar

      Not sure what the reason was behind it – I was a bit skeptical, but it worked and it was delish! 😉

      • Lora Jones

        In my youth I worked in a restaurant. We always made ganache with butter. SO GOOD!

  • Lisa

    That’s a beautiful thing, thanks for sharing and happy belated birthday. I like your writing style.

  • Carol O

    I made this a couple weeks ago and it was possibly the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten. Everyone loved it. It’s been requested a second time and I’m thinking about doing it in cupcake form. Has anyone done that? I’m wondering how to adjust the baking time and about how many cupcakes it would make?

    • Leah

      I made 24 cupcakes and a bundt with one recipe. 20 min was perfect!

  • Jean Marie McKinney

    i made this cake for my friend’s birthday and it tasted like a piece of heaven, the cake is so rich and moist. it was a big hit! will definitely use this recipe over and over again. i omitted the reeses cups though…

    • lemonsugar

      Awesome!! Thanks for coming back by to let me know!!

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  • Stephanie

    I was looking for a simple peanut butter frosting recipe and I definitely found it. This stuff is amazing!! It is light and creamy and seriously tastes like heaven. I only made the frosting, but I really wish I had made the cake as well. If you have any reservations about this recipe, don’t. Just make it. You won’t regret it!

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  • Lora Jones

    Somehow my seventeen year old boyfriend will be turning thirty seven next week. I’m making this cake to distract us from the harsh reality that twenty years have gone by even though it seems like a day (The five children we produced in that “day” will probably love it as much as we’re sure to!)

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  • Amanda

    I made this for my son’s 11th birthday – he loves everything with peanutbutter! It was a huge succes, so I’m making it again for my friend’s birthday tomorrow. Thank you!
    Amanda in Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Amanda

      Although mine wasn’t as beautiful as yours, but the taste was perfect :-)

  • stephanie

    do you think that the cake can hold a smaller one on top also with a big rice crispy ball and fondant ?

  • Teagan

    Thank you! Great recipe! Easy to follow directions worked perfectly! Huge hit! So happy!

  • Shawnee

    Is there any way I can change it to a two layer 8″ cake?

    • Alicia

      The first recipe I saw for this cake was for 2 8″ layers. It just has 1/3 less of everything in the cake itself: 2 cups sugar, 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 cup cocoa, etc. The frosting ingredients are the same for both recipes (same quantity of frosting for the 2 layer cake as for the 3 layer) except that the 2 layer recipe calls for 3 tablespoons milk in the frosting instead of the cream, and the ganache calls for 8 oz melting chocolate and 6 oz butter. Your call which ganache and which approach to the frosting sounds better, but if you use the ganache ingredients from this recipe, I wouldn’t decrease them for the 2 layer cake.

      Oops! I just noticed when you posted this question. I just read it today. Obviously by now you’ve either solved it for yourself or moved on. Maybe someone else will want to know….

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  • Sarah

    Can’t wait to make for my birthday!

  • Leslie Scully

    I only have 3-9″ cake pans. Can I use them instead of the 8″ pans? I am assuming it would take a shorter time to bake.

  • Reagan Jamell

    My cakes overflowed in the oven. What did I do wrong?