Chocolate Peanut Butter
Updated: May 12
Chocolate and peanut butter is the most perfect pairing since peanut butter and jelly...and this cake proves that.
I want to start off by saying, that I had the hardest time picking out a chocolate cake to make. I am in the minority that I am not a huge chocolate cake fan or chocolate ice cream. I usually prefer sweeter, fruitier tastes than a rich chocolate cake. So I hard a hard time feeling inspired looking at recipes when my mom asked for a chocolate Mother's Day cake. HOWEVER, I love peanut butter. As soon as I found this recipe I was ready to start baking right away. Peanut butter buttercream?! Nothing sounds better.
Let's Start Baking!
Before we get into the steps, I want to point out I change this recipe a little bit. Not enough to adapt the recipe, but I did substitute the hot water in the recipe for coffee. When looking for recipes, I found a lot of chocolate cakes had coffee in it. I found this interesting, while I love coffee, I didn't want to make a coffee cake. I looked into this online and found that coffee helps take away some of the bitterness of the cocoa powder and allows the chocolate flavoring to come out more. So, when I saw the recipe I used had hot water, I decided to switch this out for coffee.
1. Preheat the oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F and spray your cake pans. As per usual, this batter calls for three 8" cake pans. I only had two 9" cake pans and both work perfectly fine depending on if you want a two or three level cake. For the spray, I always use Baker's Joy. This includes flour which is important to keep your cakes from sticking.
2. Combine your dry ingredients. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I mixed this in the bowl I wanted the mix at the end in. You will be adding your wet ingredients to this bowl so if you are using a standing mixer, use your standing mixer bowl. I went the extra step and sifted these ingredients together into the bowl in order to ensure all the ingredients are combined. Then I whisked the ingredients at the end for extra measure.
2. Mix your wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together milk, oil, vanilla extract, and eggs. Then add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix together until combined. This is the first cake I didn't use a standing mixer. The last cake, the birthday cake, I think I over mixed my batter which didn't allow for the cake to rise. I was terrified to do this again. Also there was no butter in this cake mix. Therefore, I didn't need to cream together the butter and sugar and didn't need a standing mixer's power.
3. Add the coffee (hot water). Next, slowly add your coffee to the batter. If you are following the original recipe, add your hot water. You want the water hot but not boiling. 1 minute in the microwave should be perfect. For the coffee, I added a little at a time and mixed in between each pour. Making sure the coffee was fully incorporated.
This batter is VERY thin. It is a little different than other batters, but don't worry, this is the way it is supposed to be.
4. Bake your cakes! Divide your batter evenly into your cake pans. Before you do this, I added my cake strips to my cake pans. Cake strips are used to avoid a dome being made while baking. These are not necessary, but if you are interested read more about cake strips here.
The recipe says to bake for 22-25 minutes. I placed my cakes in the oven for 20 minutes. I figure its always better to under do something and add then to over bake. Keep checking your cake with the toothpick and cooking at 5 minute increments until the toothpick is clean.
I moved my cakes to a wire rack to dry completely.
While your cakes cool, get started on the frosting.
1. Cream your butter and peanut butter. Make sure your butter is softened to room temperature. Add the butter and peanut butter and cream with a paddle attachment until completely smooth. While mixing, I could still see little clumps of butter. Increase the speed of the mixer and smooth these out until the butter and peanut butter are fully combined.
2. Add the powdered sugar and milk. Next step is to add half of your powdered sugar. Mix the frosting on the lowest speed until the sugar is fully combined. Then add 3 tbsp of milk or water. I went with milk as this was a chocolate peanut butter cake, I thought it felt right to continue with the dairy theme. I am sure water works just as well!
Add the rest of your powdered sugar to the frosting and mix. Then add 3 more tbsps of milk and mix. Depending on the consistency add more milk or more powdered sugar. My buttercream was perfect, maybe a little too thick so I added one more tbsp of milk and mixed. Now you are ready to start building your cake!
Assemble your cake!
Make sure your cakes are completely cooled. This is extremely important because if there is any heat, it will melt your frosting and make it really runny and your cake will not be able to set.
1. Chop your Reese's cups. Before you start you want to chop up your Reese's cups that will go in between your cake layers. Take 6 Reese's and chop them up into little pieces and set aside.
2. Make your crumb coat. First up is to do a crumb coat to ensure your cake is smooth and clean looking. Take your first layer and place it on a turntable and a cake board. Then add the some frosting and spread on the top.
Once your frosting is spread, sprinkle your chopped up Reese's cups on top and press them into the frosting with the back of your hand to set them in. Then take a thin layer of frosting and cover the Reese's. This is to make sure the next cake layer sticks to the frosting.
Add the top layer and begin the last steps of your crumb coat. Frost the top and down the sides. and set into the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour. I always put mine in for 45 minutes. For more in depth details on making a crumb coat and why it is important, read more here.
2. Add your final coat.
Once your cakes are set, you can finish frosting your cakes. Take a big dollop and at it to the top. With an offset spatula, spread all along the top. Then take the excess and spread down the sides.
Take an icing smoother and smooth out those edges to get a clean smooth cake. On the top, move the offset spatula from the edges to the middle and smooth out the top.
Place in the fridge and get your cake cold! You want it to be cold for the chocolate ganache drip.
3. Make your chocolate ganache drip. To make your drip, you want to make a chocolate ganache with heavy whipping cream and semi sweet chocolate chips. It is important to have your cakes cold so that the drips will set as they travel down the cakes so they don't just go all the way to the bottom of the cake.
Place your heavy whipping cream into the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. I did 30 seconds and then added another 20 seconds to get it a little bit hotter.
Pour the hot heavy whipping cream into your bowl. Slowly whisk together your ganache. Make sure you go slowly so that you don't get air bubbles. I went a little fast and had several air bubbles. I continued to slowly whisk and got majority of them out.
4. Drip your ganache. You want to cool your ganache a little to get the right consistency. If it is too runny, no matter how cold your cake is, it will run all the way down and look more like stripes rather than controlled drips. Let me tell you, before doing this I was freaking out. I have always wanted to make a drip cake but it intimidates me so much. I looked up all the ways to drip your ganache. You can do it with a spoon, piping bag, or most recommend a squeeze bottle. I do not have a squeeze bottle so I decided to use a piping bag with a tiny hole at the end.
At this point I thought I was doing really good, and of course I jinxed it because I let my ganache set too much. So my drips.... are a little dysfunctional. I would recommend letting it cool for 10 minutes. I let mine cool for around 20 minutes.
Take your piping bag and start to drip the cake along the edge. Go all the way around the cake and putting different amounts of pressure on each squeeze so your drips aren't the same length. Once you go all the way around, fill in the inside with the ganache and spread it around with your offset spatula.
Once you have your final product, place your cake back in the fridge to set your ganache. As you can tell, I let my ganache cool and set too much. The drips didn't travel down far enough and were really clumpy and hard to work with.
5. Decorate! Now it is time to add your finishing garnishes. you need to cut eight Reese's in half and set aside.
Add any leftover frosting to a piping bag.
Pipe buttercream swirls onto the top of your cake. I saw on a youtube video, to mark with a toothpick where you want to do your swirls. However, I found it so much easier to just go with it and put the swirls around as you go.
Place your Reese's cup halves in between each buttercream swirl. Then, to top it off, sprinkle Reese's crumbs on top. I put a couple Reese's in the fridge and then chopped them in my nutribullet for one pulse.
Sprinkle on top and your cake is ready to go!!!
Taste Tester Thoughts
"Best chocolate cake I have ever had."
"Everything is perfect. The cake is moist and chocolate is rich. The peanut butter buttercream is smooth and creamy."
"The decoration looks professional"
Get This Recipe
What to make your own Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake, go here for the full recipe and steps. Good luck!
So, I made several mistakes but overall I think it turned out great! One of the biggest mistakes, I mentioned earlier is that I let the ganache cool too much. This made it very difficult to make the drips. If you make this mistake, there is an easy fix. Just put it in the microwave for a couple seconds to heat it back up. I didn't do this for really one reason – I am lazy. I had already had it in a piping bag and I didn't want to take the ganache out of a piping bag and waste that bag when I need another one. What I wish I had done was test the ganache before placing it in the piping bag so I could tell how cool the ganache really was.
This also led to another mistake. I was so dead-set on fixing my drips, I was poking at them, and accidentally stuck some fingers into my already set frosting 🤦🏽♀️. There was no easy way to fix this as the smoother was too big for just that spot and the chocolate drips were already on so I couldn't re-smooth the cake. I jumped into fixing mode right away so I don't have a picture of the initial poke, but I think I was able to fix this as best as I could. I took the end of the offset spatula and tried to smooth out the most I could, but there are still indentions. If you have any suggestions to fix this in the future, please comment!