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.
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.
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?
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.
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??
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.
Thanks for stopping by today! Leave me a comment below so I know you were here!
- 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
- 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
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 4 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- Chopped Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Candies (I used one bag of bite-size and 8 full-size cups)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
- Prepare three 8-inch round pans with cooking spray and parchment rounds. Set aside.
- 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.)
- With a hand mixer, beat until just combined.
- Add boiling water, and carefully beat until just combined again. Use a spatula to clean sides of bowl, and beat one more time.
- Evenly distribute batter between three cake pans (I use a kitchen scale to help).
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake-tester comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
- Add peanut butter and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Use a spatula to clean the sides of the bowl, and beat again.
- Add confectioners sugar and heavy cream, and beat until smooth.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, slowly melt butter. Remove from heat.
- Immediately add chocolate, and allow the heat to melt the butter, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth.
- Set aside to cool slightly - for about 10 minutes.
- Once cake is cool, place bottom layer on cake plate.
- Using an offset spatula, smooth about a cup of frosting over the cake.
- Add second layer, and repeat with another cup of frosting.
- 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.
- 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.
- Smooth frosting into an even layer on the tops and sides.
- Return cake to refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes to chill the frosting. Prepare the ganache during this time.
- Once chilled, pour the slightly-cooled ganache over top of the cake, slowly, starting in the middle of the cake.
- Once the ganache begins to drip over the sides of the cake, stop pouring.
- Top with chopped peanut butter cup candies, and drizzle with another bit of ganache.
- Refrigerate again for 10-15 minutes.
- Cut 8 full-size peanut butter cups in half. Use them to rim the bottom of the cake.