I didn’t like peanut butter as a kid. That’s a mild way of putting it – I hated it. It was the mouthfeel that I couldn’t stand, that stickiness that coated every inch of your mouth. I vividly remember one day in elementary school when I ordered a peanut butter jelly sandwich for lunch out of morbid fascination. PB&J sandwiches were all anybody ate back then, so I decided to try it and see what all the hullabaloo was. I took one bite and threw it in the trash and went hungry the rest of the day. It was around that same time when we were reading Shel Silverstein in class and we got to the poem about the king who ate a peanut butter sandwich and got his mouth stuck shut for 20 years. That poem was what really sealed the deal for me. I’m not exaggerating when I say I spent the first half of my life terrified that peanut butter would glue my mouth shut.
I’m happy to say that I know better now and go through jars of peanut butter at an alarming rate to make up for lost time. I’m content to eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon, but I do occasionally like to put some work into how I consumer peanut butter, like this decadent peanut butter cake with chocolate ganache and peanut butter frosting.
One of my coworkers also adores peanut butter, so for her last day at work, I brought in this cake along with some cupcakes. She loved them, so I’d say my relationship with peanut butter – from hatred to love, bordering on obsession – has finally come full circle.
Peanut Butter Cake
Cake recipe from The Daring Gourmet
Makes 1 6-inch cake and 40 mini cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup milk
- Grease your cake pan and mini cupcake tins and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil, peanut butter, and brown sugar until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until just combined.
- Alternately add the flour and milk to the egg mixture, beating until just combined. Pour batter into pans
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until cake is just beginning to brown.
- Remove from oven and let sit in pan until cool.
- 9 oz semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream to a boil, then pour over chocolate.
- Mix together until fully incorporated.
- Set aside for 5 minutes to cool so the ganache can firm up.
- Spread over cake layers and pour into center of cupcakes.
Peanut Butter Buttercream
- 1 recipe swiss meringue buttercream
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- Prepare buttercream normally.
- Once the buttercream is coming together and you have switched to the paddle, scoop in 1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter. Beat on low speed until fully incorporated.
- Frost cake and cupcakes and (try not to) eat by the spoonful.
Sometimes, when my mind wanders, I think about this cake. This is only the fourth layer cake I’ve made in my entire life and the first I’ve been really proud of. The cake itself is moist and deeply peanut buttery, the ganache adds the perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate, and the frosting, oh, the frosting… if you’ve never made swiss meringue buttercream, you really owe it to yourself to try it out. It’s the most delicious frosting I’ve ever had, and yes, you will eat it with a spoon.
If a layer cake isn’t your thing, cupcakes are just as good, and of course, since they’re smaller, you can eat an entire plateful.
The finished cake was covered in roses with #DEAD written on the top in leftover chocolate ganache. I should explain a couple of things.
The roses look super impressive, yes? But the real reason I added them was because I was originally trying to frost the cake smooth, and when that failed, I decided to cover up the uneven frosting with some roses. I also figured the delicate roses would be a nice juxtaposition (throwing some high school AP English up in here) to the text, which brings me to…
The #DEAD. The coworker I made these for loves saying DEAD after anything and everything, as in, that’s so funny I’m dead. It became something of an inside joke on our team, so I had to add that . Also, that was pretty much how I felt about her leaving. I hadn’t planned on adding the hashtag, but then after I piped the word on, I noticed it wasn’t centered, so I added the hashtag to even it out. Basically, this entire cake was the result of my mistakes.
The #DEAD was also especially relevant, because right after I finished frosting it, as I was putting the cake into the cake box, I DROPPED IT. The cake was heavy and the box was sitting on the edge of the counter, so when I put it in, the box slid off the counter and the cake smashed into the side. And then I died. But seriously, it was the single most stressful event in my entire life – I saw the whole thing happen in slow motion and in my mind, I screamed NOOOOOOO and lunged at the cake like they do in action movies, when in real life, I just stood there with my mouth open in a silent scream and frosting splattered all over my chest. I was very close to tears, but had enough of my wits about me to realize that I could just scrape off the ruined frosting and re-do it. Which I did, then went straight to bed, and had nightmares about ruined cakes. For an activity that is supposed to help me relieve stress, baking is incredibly stressful sometimes.
And that’s the story, nay, saga, of this cake. It did have a happy ending though – it ended with us eating cake and cupcakes, which is really the best kind of ending.