Monday, June 22, 2009

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake

I'm starting this blog primarily as a means of documenting my desserts, and as motivation to attempt taking better pictures. I will also be teaching a baking course in January, and I want a place for my students to document their work as well.

When I'm not baking, there's a good chance that I'm working out (gotta burn off all those baked goods), dancing, teaching math, or doing number theory research... or reading recipes... or dreaming up new dessert ideas... so much to bake, so little time! My To Bake list is over ten pages long now, so I have lots to do.

I am a peanut butter addict, as you will no doubt soon discover. I rarely ate it as a child, but now it's part of my daily diet - in sweet or savory form. This peanut butter cake is one of my all time favorite cakes. I've made it for my birthday three years in a row now, it's just that good. It's a peanut butter cake with a chocolate/peanut butter ganache, and cream cheese frosting. I found it in Bon Appetit (covered in Butterfingers in their version, which seems like overkill, even to me), and it's definitely best on day 2 or 3, after the flavors have had a chance to marry. The cream cheese frosting is particularly good: not overly sugary and very creamy.

Recipe (Adapted from Bon Appetit):
For Ganache Filling: (Make the night before)

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup old-fashioned (natural) chunky peanut butter

For Cake:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup old-fashioned (natural) chunky peanut butter
1 pound golden brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

For Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Prepare the ganache filling:

Bring cream and sugar to simmer in saucepan, whisking to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; let stand 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in peanut butter. Chill uncovered overnight or for several hours. If left overnight, you may need to microwave the ganache briefly in order to make it spreadable.

Prepare the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. with baking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Spray again. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter in a large bowl until blended. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. At low speed, beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions.
Divide the batter among the pans, spreading evenly. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Cool cakes 5 minutes. Turn out onto racks; peel off parchment. Cool completely.
Prepare the frosting:

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Whisk or beat the heavy cream and 1 cup powdered sugar in bowl until mixture holds medium-firm peaks. Fold into the cream cheese mixture in 3 additions; chill until firm but spreadable, about 1 hour.

Assemble the cake:

Level each cake layer. Place 1 cake layer on a cardboard cake round or cake plate protected by strips of wax paper or parchment paper. Spread with half of the ganache, leaving a slight border at the outside edge. Place another layer on top of the first layer. Spread with remaining filling. Top with remaining cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the cream cheese frosting. Decorate with chocolate shavings.


You can serve the cake immediately, but it's best to let it sit (in the refrigerator) for a few hours or overnight. Serve at room temperature. Freeze leftovers (or the entire cake!) for up to two months. Defrost (still wrapped) overnight; or microwave directly from the freezer for a messier, more gooey slice of cake.

Thanks to Satyan for taking most of these pics.

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1 comment:

  1. Nice cake! I made a pb cake for my dad's birthday last month, but I'm still on the lookout for a better recipe. I'll mos def be giving this a go.