Dark Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Peanut Butter Frosting is the best way I know to celebrate my blog’s birthday, or any other day for that matter.
We have something to celebrate this week! My blog turns 1 on Thursday. I’ve been trying for a couple of weeks to figure out something to say about the fact that I’ve blogging for a year now. But I have nothing that seems valuable or useful or profound. Blogging is as much a part of my life at this point as taking Cookie for a long morning walk and doing the Sunday crossword with a giant cup of tea. (My life is dull. I know.) But I love those walks and that tea and my blog. I love it all. Blogging is fun and gives purpose to my passion for all things food.
And! “Seasons of Love” (from Rent) is stuck in my head right now. It seems appropriate. I feel like I’ve used about five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred teaspoons of vanilla over the last year. At least that much. I’ve creamed more butter and washed more dishes than in the last five years combined.
I didn’t sit down and calculate exactly how much vanilla or butter or ummmm pounds of sugar because. . .math. When it comes to math I just say no. Butter? Always. Math? Never.
But I’ve enjoyed every dish and even every terrible, horrible, often cringe-worthy photograph I’ve taken. And OMG I can’t even wait for next year. I’m already scoping out second birthday candles.
Serious question: How do you get a song out of your head? I need to stop hearing songs that make me sad. Songs from Rent make me think of the movie, which makes me of the guy from Law and Order who was in the movie, which makes me think of Jerry Orbach, which makes me sad.
Good thing I have cake, right? It’s impossible to be sad when you have DARK CHOCOLATE CAKE with VANILLA PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING!!!!! Guys! It’s chocolate and peanut butter. Could there be a better combo? Or a more appropriate way to celebrate ibk’s first birthday? No and no. (See also peanut butter brownies, chubby hubby cupcakes, and like 90% of the other recipes on this site.)
This cake is out of this world. It’s floating somewhere in outer space. It’s on Jupiter. It’s that delicious.
Are you ready for the specifics? Brace yourself. We’re talking two layers of ultra-moist deeply chocolate-y cake, filled with thick-but-creamy peanut butter filling, frosted with the creamiest-ever vanilla buttercream with just a hint of peanut butter in there too. Then the whole thing gets decorated with salted peanuts and chocolate buttercream. It doesn’t get any better. (But if you’re not the decorating type you can skip the peanuts and chocolate. I don’t mind.)
If you’re a fan of the Baked cookbooks you’ll recognize this cake from Baked Elements. As with every recipe I’ve made out of their books this one is such a winner. It’s exactly the cake I imagined I’d make for my blog’s first birthday back when I was working on my first post. I’m not going to link to that post because the pictures are just OMG no. I think my skills have improved somewhat.
Thanks for being here each and every week! You have no idea what it means to me.
- 2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup hot coffee
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes*
- 1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Peanut Butter Filling
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream, as needed
- 1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, spray paper with cooking spray, then lightly sprinkle with flour. Set aside.
- Place the dark chocolate and cocoa powder in a small mixing bowl. Pour coffee over the chocolate and whisk to melt chocolate. Add the milk and whisk until mixture is smooth.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (3 to 4 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the espresso powder and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat again on medium speed for 30 seconds.
- With mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the chocolate mixture. (It will go like this: one third flour mixture, one half chocolate mixture, one third flour mixture, remaining chocolate mixture, remaining flour mixture.) Mix until flour is just incorporated—don’t over-mix. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again and stir several times with a rubber spatula.
- Divide the batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool in pans for 30 minutes. Gently run a knife around the outside of the cake to release from the pan. Remove cake layers from pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Beat the butter on high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until butter is very smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon to use in the frosting.
- Whisk the sugar and flour together in a medium saucepan. Add the milk and cream and place pan over medium heat. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high until mixture is cool, about 10 minutes. Turn mixer to low and add the butter a few cubes at a time, mixing until fully combined. Increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add reserved peanut butter filling, vanilla, and salt and beat to combine. If the frosting is too soft, refrigerate for a few minutes. Once it has chilled a bit, beat on medium speed to achieve a spreadable consistency.
- Beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and salt and beat to combine. Beat in cocoa powder, then turn mixer to low and gradually add powdered sugar. Add 3 tablespoons milk and beat to combine. Beat on high speed for 4 minutes. Add additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time to achieve a pipe-able consistency.
- Place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving tray. If the cake is domed, trim with a long, serrated knife. Spread peanut butter filling evenly over the top. Top with the second cake layer, again trimming if cake is domed. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the vanilla peanut butter frosting.
- Pipe chocolate frosting along the bottom of the cake—or anywhere you wish. Sprinkle peanuts around the edge of the cake. Serve and enjoy.
- *To achieve butter that is cool but not cold, get the butter out and slice it into cubes just before you make the filling. Once you’re ready to add the butter to the frosting it should be the right temperature.