Cakes Chocolate Desserts

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

April 19, 2013

First, let me profusely apologize for the picture. My pictures aren’t ever stellar anyway, but this one “takes the cake” (tee hee!) as being just plain awful. I forgot to charge my nice camera’s battery and it was uber o’clock in the morning while I was trying to scurry out the door for work. So I grabbed my cell phone and snapped away. I made this Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake for my boss’s birthday a few weeks ago. I was trying to top the Tunnel of Fudge cake from another coworker’s birthday, and let me tell you that was no easy feat.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

So, how’s it taste?

When I opened the cake dome lid, it was peanut butter chocolate heaven. The aroma was intoxicating. The peanut butter frosting/filling is spot on. It’s amazing. It’s really fluffy, so much so that I almost want to call it a mousse. It wasn’t too peanut buttery, wasn’t too sweet, it was perfect. I will definitely make it again for other sweet treats.

The cake tasted really good and chocolately, but I think it’s all wrong for the frosting. I also had a problem with them sinking, which going back to the source I see a lot of comments that had that same issue, and mine were not underbaked. The cake is pretty dense and since it has to be stored in the fridge, it was really hard to cut a slice. The dense cake kind of squished the frosting everywhere. It got better at room temperature, but then the frosting was too greasy at room temperature, so they just don’t match. I was surprised at how the cake turned out because they seemed to be really moist when I took them out of the pans. Don’t get me wrong, the cake tasted awesome (hello PB and chocolate!), but I’d like to see this frosting with a lighter cake. I think it would work fantastically with the Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe (see my Blackberry Chocolate Cupcakes).

I also wish I had used more of the frosting/filling. I felt like I was adding too much in between the layers, but I really could have used all of it. I ended up not using about 1 1/2 cups and that was a mistake. Don’t be shy when filling between the layers! This frosting is also really easy to pipe and spread. Although you’ll never get it perfectly smooth, but it kind of adds to the look with the mousse-like texture. I think I’d like to make chocolate cupcakes and use this frosting. Don’t be surprised if you see that concoction soon on the blog!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

by Annie's Eats
makes about 16 servings


1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pans
1 tbsp. instant espresso or coffee powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

Filling and Frosting
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, divided
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt

Mini peanut butter cups, halved


1. For the cake, preheat oven to 350F. Butter edges of three 8-inch round cake pans and dust with cocoa powder. Shake the pans to remove excess. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, add cocoa powder, espresso powder, and boiling water. Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool. After cooling a bit, whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Set mixture aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Add eggs one at a time. In another medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt with a whisk until blended.

2. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three additions alternating with sour cream mixture. Mix each addition just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between pans. Bake about 30-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans during halfway through to ensure even baking. Transfer the cake to wire racks and cool in the pans at least 30 minutes. Next invert cake onto the racks to cool completely.

3. To make the filling and frosting, combine the heavy cream and 1/4 cup of the confectioners' sugar in a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over mix. Transfer a separate bowl; set aside. In mixer bowl, now fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and peanut butter. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 45 seconds. Add the rest of the confectioners' sugar and mix, slowly at first until incorporated, then increasing the mixer speed to high. Add vanilla extract and salt. Continue to whip on high speed until very fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Using a large spatula, gently fold whipped cream into peanut butter frosting until no streaks remain.

4. Assemble the cake, placing one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread a layer of the frosting over the top of the cake. Top with a second cake and another layer of frosting. Place the last cake on top. Frost the top and sides using a thin crumb coat. Place in the freezer or fridge for 30 minutes to set. Reserve about 1 cup of the remaining frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip (Wilton #21 recommended). Once the crumb cake is set, frost the top and sides of the cake again using an offset spatula. Using the reserved frosting, pipe a border around the base of the cake. Pipe swirls evenly around the top border of the cake and one in the middle. Finish by garnishing with halved peanut butter cups. (Freezing the candy for a bit beforehand helps them stay looking nice while you cut them.) Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

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  • Jackie l Food.Wine.Fashion April 19, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Don’t be so hard on yourself – this cake looks DELISH! I am actually making buckeyes later today so this is really getting me in the mood for chocolate and peanut butter 🙂

    Have a great weekend!
    xo Jackie

    • Leah Short April 19, 2013 at 10:23 am

      Aw, thanks so much Jackie! I’m telling ya, you can’t go wrong with chocolate and PB!

  • angela@spinachtiger April 19, 2013 at 10:19 am

    This is marked for Doug’s birthday. It’s his favorite, but he has to wait almost a whole year from now. Maybe I need to make it for our anniversary. He LOVES peanut butter.

    • Leah Short April 19, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Ooo yeah, never wait a year for cake, lol!

  • amy @ fearless homemaker April 19, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I loooove the choc/peanut butter combination + this sounds awesome. And don’t be too hard on yourself – I think the picture looks pretty darn great!

    • Leah Short April 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Well thank you! Your pictures have been quite the showstoppers lately I’ve noticed, by the way!

  • alexandra @ sweet betweens [blog] April 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Ditto to what Amy said – that picture totally sold the cake for me. Such sweet decorating, and you can tell that that frosting is packed with peanut butter. Sounds delicious!

    • Leah Short April 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      Oh good! Although I think the peanut butter cups on top help it overcome the horrid pic, lol! The frosting is ah-may-zing!

  • steph@stephsbitebybite April 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Look at that beauty!

    • Leah Short April 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm


  • Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie April 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Your decorating skills are far superior to mine that’s for sure, it looks fantastic! And of course anything peanut butter and chocolate is good.

    • Leah Short April 19, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Thanks, Erin!

  • Shannon April 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    I’m so glad you posted this! I was requested to make chocolate cupcakes with pb frosting for a party tomorrow night and I told Coach about how amazing this frosting was. He told me to call you!! Ha! This frosting is pretty awesome!

    • Leah Short April 20, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Oh yeah, totally use this stuff. Use the Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe, too. Those two together will knock their socks off!

  • Taylor May 5, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    This looks something my wife would love! The picture is better than you think!