Today, I turn 34 years young, and I have the most serious of serious questions to ask. Does this mean I’m now in my mid-30’s? If the answer is yes, don’t tell me. It dumbfounds me to think that at 34 years old, my mom already had a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old. I barely feel like a grown-up, save for the mortgage payments and general responsibilities that come with not being 18 anymore.
If time is going to keep on moving, we might as well welcome it with open arms and some phenomenal cake, right? I have had this cake on the brain for months, but decided to shelve it and save it for my birthday. I couldn’t think of anything more perfect for me than an overdose of chocolate and peanut butter to the highest degree.
I basically took my favorite chocolate cake, my favorite peanut butter frosting, tons of peanut butter cups, and smooshed it all together into one of the most fabulous cakes I have made to date.
For someone who could eat chocolate and peanut butter for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this cake is a dream come true.
The cake is the same one I used for my Snickers cake last year; do you remember how much I went on and on about how it’s the best chocolate cake ever?
Well, it’s still the best chocolate cake ever.
The peanut butter frosting is a double batch from my chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes, and I love it because it’s silky smooth, super peanut butter-y and not at all too sugar-y. I would love to just eat it from a bowl with a spoon. However, I’ll settle for it on this cake along with tons of chopped peanut butter cups, because, of course, there needs to be peanut butter cups.
I plan to spend my birthday relaxing, going to a hockey game, and eating a ridiculous amount of dessert.
That’s what birthdays are for, right?
A sinfully rich three-layer chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, chopped peanut butter cups and a chocolate ganache.
For the Cake:
2½ cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup + 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1½ cups strong black coffee, hot
¾ cup vegetable oil
4½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Peanut Butter Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups creamy peanut butter
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅔ cup heavy cream
For the Chocolate Ganache:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup heavy cream
30 miniature peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped, divided
1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans, tapping out excess; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you're using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).
4. Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
5. Make the Peanut Butter Frosting: Place the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the heavy cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth (do not overbeat).
6. Assemble the Cake: If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with 1 cup of the peanut butter frosting and sprinkle 10 of the chopped peanut butter cups over the frosting. Top with a second cake layer and cover with another 1 cup of the peanut butter frosting, and top with another 10 chopped peanut butter cups. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the remaining peanut butter frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set.
7. Make the Chocolate Ganache: While the cake chills, make the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a 4-cup measuring cup; set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Begin whisking the mixture in the center, gradually working your way outward until the ganache is completely smooth. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened slightly, yet still a pourable consistency.
8. Garnish the Cake: If the ganache was mixed in a bowl, transfer it to a 2-cup measuring cup. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward and flow over the sides of the cake. Top with the remaining 10 chopped peanut butter cups. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. Keep the cake refrigerated, removing it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to serving.