One of my favourite cooking blogs, and probably my biggest inspiration not only in creating this blog but in the photography of my creations, is smittenkitchen. The top of my list of recipes to try from the blog was the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. Once again, I have a big paper due this week, and instead I am baking. The only request I received for baking today was that it involved chocolate and peanut butter (as usual) so of course this cake popped into my mind. It also is a pretty lengthy process, even better for this rainy and quiet day.
The original recipe that is posted on the website was for a three layer cake, supposedly serving 12 to 16 people, if not more. Since we are only two at home, and we will have to resist the temptation of the cake until I can bring some into the office on Monday, I decided to half the recipe and make it a two layer, more reasonable cake, which we still will not eat all by ourselves (I figure if I write it out, it will come true). Halving everything didn’t make for the most precise measurements, but here is my take on the cake. Remember, these measurements are for half of the normal cake – to get the whole thing, go check out the original page at smittenkitchen.
Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes an 8-inch double-layer cake; serves 8, maybe more.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1.75 cups sugar
3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (I also skipped this)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of two 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 2 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. I then put the cakes in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm them up, and to allow them to be iced more easily (thanks to the tip from Deb)
4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. I also used Deb’s tip of putting a thin glaze of icing on first to catch all the crumbs that break off the cake. I then put the cake in the fridge for 15 minutes, before using the rest of the icing on the top and sides.
5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle (I skipped this step).
Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 2.5 cups
5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)
1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 cup
2 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup half-and-half
1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.
I found the whole process to be surprisingly simple. I had never attempted a layered cake before, so I granted I was a little intimidated by the whole thing at the beginning. I am glad I was just making it for us, rather than company, because that reduced a little bit of my stress at making my cake look as perfect and beautiful as Deb’s did.
The cake is delicious – but VERY rich. Even the most devoted chocolate lover (myself) found it to be a chocolate overload. It tastes like a giant, creamy, Reese Peanut Butter Cup.I could only manage to eat one very slim piece. However, I get the feeling I will be returning for more in the middle of the night.