I don't know about you, but I LOVE chocolate and peanut butter together. It's one of those classic combos where the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.
It was a craving for this combo that led me down the road of chocolate peanut butter cake. This cake has an insanely deep chocolate flavor. It's tender and moist and the peanut butter frosting cuts through the richness. It's pretty much the best thing I've ever made, dessert wise. Even better, dare I say, than my Suzy Q Cake. In fact, I'm rather sad as I write this because there is no more left and I have this sudden craving for chocolate and peanut butter.
I adapted the chocolate cake recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. She makes a three layer cake but I wanted a simple 9x9 cake so I adjusted accordingly.
Makes 12 servings
Start to finish: 90 minutes
1 1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa (dutch process if you can actually find it)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup water
1 tbsp + 1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Whisk in the oil and sour cream. The batter will be very crumbly. Don't judge me for my extremely messy Kitchen Aid Mixer.
At this point start slowing adding in the water, still mixing away.
Next add the vinegar and vanilla. Last but not least beat in the eggs.
There are two ways you can go about baking this. If you're going for presentation, go ahead and coat two square or round cake pans with butter and cocoa and pour the batter in. If you are looking for the easy way out, pour all the batter into a 9x9 square pan.
Can you tell which route I took? Once the cake is poured, sprinkle peanut butter chips over the top. Doing this at the end instead of mixing them in will prevent them from sinking to the bottom.
If you went with two pans, bake for 30 minutes. If you went with one, bake for 45, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
This cake fell a little in the oven, but have no fear. I think this has less to do with the recipe and more to do with the fact that a few minutes into baking I discovered I had extra batter left in the mixing bowl and poured it into the middle. Not recommended.
Take a moment to bask in the chocolate-y-ness. If you went the double layer cake route, let the cake cool for several minutes and then turn them out onto the rack much like we did here. If you did what I did, just leave the cake in the pan and let it cool.
While your cake is cooling, you have plenty of time to make this amazing icing! I looked and looked and looked for a good peanut butter frosting recipe. I wanted it to be fluffy and creamy, but not too sweet. I wanted the peanut butter, not the sugar, to take main stage. I think I have struck a balance here. If you want to ice a double layer cake, I would double this amount. Make as is for a single layer cake.
Peanut Butter Icing
Makes enough for one single layer cake
Start to finish: 5 minutes.
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp of milk, more if needed
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3 ounces of chocolate or Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, broken into pieces
Cream the butter and peanut butter together until it is a little fluffed up. Start adding in the powdered sugar a bit at a time until well incorporated. Add the milk if the mixture gets too thick.
Beat on high for three minutes or until the frosting looks like this:
Are you salivating yet?
Spoon all the icing onto the center of the cake and use an icing spreader to smooth it out evenly across the cake.
Sprinkle chocolate pieces over the top. Or Reeses if you have them :-)
If only I had a piece right now... *contemplates going into the kitchen and making this again*