Cake: (this is my go-to chocolate cake recipe – but use your favorite, this one always turns out ultra moist and delicious but any standard chocolate cake recipe would work)
- 1 box pillsbury devils food cake mix
- 1 3.4 oz box jello instant chocolate pudding (not the fat/sugar free)
- 1/2 cup melted butter, coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 eggs lightly beaten (room temp works best)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 stick (4 ounces or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand like Jiff or Skippy
- For the cake. Preheat oven to 350 and line two 9″ cake pans with parchment and either butter or spray them then set aside.
- Lightly mix together the cake mix and pudding mix then in a separate bowl mix your eggs water, oil (or butter) and vanilla well, until all the eggs are incorporated. Add the wet mixture into the cake mix making sure to mix it thoroughly for a few minutes, and then add the sour cream blending until no white streaks remain. Last add the chocolate chips and just fold them in with a spatula so they are evenly distributed. The batter is quite thick, but it bakes up really nice so don’t be nervous about the texture.
- Pour evenly into your cake pans and level out with a spatula. Bake for about 22-25 minutes checking for doneness with a toothpick. The top of the cakes spring back when done and the cake just barely starts to pull from the sides of the pan. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely while you make your frosting and ganache.
- Next I make the ganache and then the frosting because you need to pipe frosting around the bottom of your layer cake in order to hold the ganache in the middle while it cools. The ganache can start to cool down and thicken while you make the frosting.
- For the ganache: Put the chocolate and heavy cream in a heatproof bowl – I use 4 cup pyrex for this. Heat slowly in the microwave either on defrost or in 20 second intervals at full power until the chocolate starts to loose it’s shape and you can whisk it smooth. You can also heat the chocolate and cream in a double boiler, but I find the microwave method much easier.
- For the frosting: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
- Once the cakes have cooled, level the tops with a long serrated knife, unless you don’t care about having a neat looking cake, but this makes frosting easier and it gives you a little snack while you work. Put the first layer on a plate or cake board and pipe with either a piping bag or just a bag made from parchment a dam of frosting around the diameter of the bottom layer that will hold in your ganache when you pour it in. You may have some extra ganache – I used it last time to put on the top of my cake which you can do, or just save it for something else. Now take your ganache and pour it into the middle of that bottom layer spreading out but taking care not to let it go over the edge or over the edge of your frosting layer – this is why you made a frosting dam, to hold in your ganache and keep your second layer of cake from squishing it.
- Let that cool for 10 minutes or so then put the second cake layer on – neat side up and plop a large amount of frosting on top. Using an offset spatula spread the peanut butter frosting taking care to only touch your spatula to the frosting, and not to the cake so you don’t drag crumbs. Work your frosting around the top, pushing it slowly from the middle, and then around the sides scraping the extra into a paper towel so you don’t drag crumbs. A spinning cake pedestal helps, but you can do this by just turning a plate. Once you have a uniform and neat cake you can decorate with extra ganache, chocolate curls, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or whatever you would like.
- Keep plastic where you’ve cut your cake so it doesn’t dry out, but you’re not likely to have any extra!
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake