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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Today is my sister Julia's birthday. While I would love nothing more than to wax poetic about my relationship with Julia, that's not really her style (case in point: check out the picture below). So instead of telling her how beautiful and amazing and talented she is, I decided to show her. While I would love to proclaim across the blogosphere that Julia is my best friend and someone who daily challenges and inspires me, she's not one for ooey gooey emotions (again, check out the picture below for proof).

Julia may not like hugs, but she does love peanut butter, especially when it's paired with chocolate. Last year, I made a chocolate peanut butter torte for her birthday and it ended up being an all-around hit. Knowing full well I had set the bar high with that dessert, I went on a search for an equally decadent chocolate peanut butter dessert. I ultimately decided on Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. Any recipe with over 700 comments is bound to be good...especially one with chocolate cake and peanut butter cream cheese frosting!

Despite omitting Deb's chocolate peanut butter ganache in favor of Reese's peanut butter cups, this cake was everything I could have hoped for! This was my first attempt at a layer cake and I was a little bit nervous about the assembly of it all. Thanks to the giftcard I received from CSN Stores, I was able to purchase a few tools to make this cake a success. I bought two additional 9-inch cake pans, which brought my collection to three, and make it much easier to bake the layers! I was pleasantly surprised by how well the cake baked in these pans and how easy it was to remove. I also bought an offset spatula which I used to frost the cake and I don't believe I could have iced it as smoothly and cleanly without this tool. I was once again very impressed by the quality of the CSN items, the speed with which they shipped, and how wonderfully they met my needs in the kitchen.

Back to the cake...let it be known, I am not a cake girl. I'll typically choose a lot of desserts before cake. But after tasting this one, I've kind of changed my mind. I just might be a cake girl. Especially if that cake includes peanut butter cream cheese frosting! Happy Happy Birthday my dear Julia! May the rest of your year be as good as this cake was :)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

for the cake-
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 1/2 cups sugar
-3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-2 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
-1 cup vegetable oil
-1 cup sour cream
-1 1/2 cups water
-2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 eggs

for the frosting-
-10 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
-1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
-5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
-2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

for the decoration
-mini Reese's peanut butter cups

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of three 9-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper and spray the paper.
2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt to combine. Whisk in oil and sour cream. Beat in the water, followed by the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs until smooth. Divide batter evenly among the 3 cake pans (I poured all of the batter into a large measuring cup/bowl and determined how much needed to go in each pan but they still turned out slightly uneven so you can just eyeball it if you want!)
3. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out almost clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 20 minutes before inverting onto wire racks. Peel off parchment paper and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap each layer individually in plastic wrap and foil before and placing in the freezer.
4. When ready to assemble cake, prepare frosting. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the butter until lightly and fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar one cup at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter and beat until blended.
5. To assemble the cake, remove layers from the freezer and unwrap. Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large plate. Spread 2/3 cup of frosting evenly over the top and top with the second layer. Repeat with another 2/3 cup of frosting. Top with final layer and frost the top and sides with remaining frosting.
6. Decorate cake with mini Reese's peanut butter cups and chill until serving.

 This post is linked to Eat at Home.