Friday, August 30, 2013

The Last Piece of Cake...

There's a special place in my heart for whoever the first person was who thought of pairing chocolate with peanut butter.

And if chocolate and peanut butter could come together and give a great big bear hug, wrapping you up in its velvety chocolate arms, pressing you snuggly against its plump, peanut butter belly, I think it would do just that in the form of this cake.

There must be very few people in this world, I think, who have never had a love affair with chocolate and peanut butter.

When Easter candy is available, Jamie loves the peanut butter filled chocolate eggs.  It's really too bad they haven't made a peanut butter Cadbury egg yet, because I'd be all over that, as much as I love the original.

And my dad has been known to sneak bags of peanut clusters out of a gift box my mom was putting together for my brother one Christmas.

So I'm satisfying all those cravings with a dense chocolate cake, filled with chocolate peanut butter buttercream, drizzled with dark chocolate ganache, and sprinkled with roasted salted peanuts.

After making the rainbow cake a few times this summer, I had so many nice reviews on the texture and density of the cake, that I thought I would make a chocolate version of it, so that's what I've made here.  Not quite as light as my regular chocolate cake recipe, this is a cross between a cake and a brownie, and very rich, especially with the peanut butter buttercream.

Because it was so rich, I decided not to frost the cake completely, instead letting the pretty piping between the layers peek out underneath the ganache dripping down the sides.

Referred to as "evil deliciousness" all day around the office, the cake disappeared quickly, except for one last remaining wedge.  It's funny how reluctant everyone is to be that person who takes the last piece.

The next morning, a slightly smaller wedge still sat there, until very slowly, it was whittled away by surreptitiously snuck bites...

One Year Ago:    Mocha Frappuchino Popsicles
Two Years Ago:   Figs and Honey, and Three Late Summer Salads

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Chocolate cake:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk and/or whole milk
Peanut butter buttercream:
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (no-stir)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • 4 ounces heavy cream
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Bake the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray the bottoms of 4 eight-inch pans with non-stick baking spray, line with parchment paper, then spray the paper as well.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter and sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl in 3 additions, alternating with the milk, starting and ending with the flour, stirring just until moistened.

Divide the batter between the pans.  Bake cakes for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel.

Make the Buttercream:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar for 3-4 minutes until smooth and fluffy.  In a separate bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, meringue powder and salt.  With the mixer on low, add by spoonfuls.  Add the vanilla and milk and increase speed to medium high, whipping until very light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

Note that you will have plenty of frosting to also frost the sides of the cake, if you'd like to.

Make the Ganache:
Note: If you like a thicker ganache, make it before you assemble the cake, so it can sit at room temperature for a few minutes to thicken.  If you like it a little thinner, wait to make it until you’re ready to pour it onto the cake.

Pour the cream into a small saucepan and bring barely to a gentle simmer over medium low heat.  Remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate and let stand for three minutes, then stir with a spatula until smooth and shiny.  Pour over the cake when it has cooled to the consistency you want.

Turn the cooled cakes out of the pans and peel off the parchment paper.  Spread or pipe a layer of the buttercream over the cake, leaving the sides clean and unfrosted.  Repeat with the other cake layers.

Once the fourth layer of cake is placed on top, pour the ganache over the cake, letting it drip over the sides.  Let stand at room temperature until set.  Sprinkle the top with the chopped peanuts, and a little coarse salt.  Place in the refrigerator for a few minutes to finish setting the ganache.

If you have buttercream left, you can pipe it on top of the ganache, once it’s set, or freeze for another use.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen