Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

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Mouthwatering Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake is three layers of moist chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter frosting, chocolate ganache and peanut butter cups. Decadent, sweet and a little salty.

a white plate with a slice of 3 layers chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and Reese's peanut butter cups

There’s no doubt about it, chocolate and peanut butter are one of those undeniably mouthwatering combinations, a match made in heaven. I’ve never met a peanut butter and chocolate dessert that I didn’t like.

Decadent is the only way I can describe this Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. It’s layers of moist chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter frosting and topped with chocolate ganache and peanut butter cups.

If you’re going to make a cake like this, you might as well go big. Am I right? It’s salty and sweet and you probably won’t be able to finish a slice in one sitting, but that’s okay. Save it for second dinner.

You’ll especially love this cake if you’re obsessed with peanut butter because this frosting is to-die-for! It’s fluffy and creamy and just melts away in your mouth.  

Now let’s get baking!

a white cake stand with a chocolate layer cake with slices missing

The best chocolate cake

This is my absolute favorite, easy moist chocolate cake recipe. It’s light and fluffy and it all comes together in about 10 minutes.

Wet ingredients: eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, sour cream and brewed coffee

Dry ingredients: granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt

Ingredient substitutions:

  • Sour cream is essential for keeping the cake moist. If you don’t have sour cream. I recommend substituting with non-fat Greek yogurt. The recipe calls for light sour cream, but you can also use full-fat sour cream.
  • Brewed Coffee: I recommend using milk instead, but only if needed. 

two side by side images showing the process of making chocolate cupcakes

How to make the chocolate cake

  1. Combine the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla extract and beat them together until fluffy. Then add sour cream and beat until well combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combined the remaining dry ingredients.
  3. Alternate, adding half the dry ingredients at a time to the batter followed by half of the liquid ingredients and beat until well combined.
  4. To bake the cake, use three 8-inch round baking pans. The bottom and sides of the pans should be well greased and lightly floured. Fill each pan with about 1 2/3 cups of batter. Bake for 20-24 minutes and cool completely.

Tips for the Creamiest peanut butter frosting

I can’t believe I haven’t shared a classic peanut butter frosting recipe yet. This is the ultimate smooth and creamy peanut butter frosting. The perfect balance of salty and sweet.

I recommend using a mixed or “no stir” peanut butter as opposed to one that requires you to mix the oil into the peanut butter. It hard to get those mixed properly and it would cause your frosting to be too oily.

My frosting recipes always start with COLD butter. This allows you to control the consistency of the frosting. However, it’s important you follow the steps and take the time to really beat the frosting at each stage so that you end up with a soft and creamy frosting that’s easy to pipe.

a beater with whipped butter on it

How to make peanut butter frosting

  1. Cut the butter into pieces, this helps break it down. Beat for several minutes until it’s fluffy.
  2. Next, beat the peanut butter and beat until well mixed.
  3. Alternate adding 2-3 cups of powdered sugar at a time with the liquid ingredients: vanilla extract & heavy cream. Ensure all the powdered sugar is well combined and beat for 2-3 minutes before adding additional powdered sugar. This is important, as your frosting thickens it will be harder to beat thoroughly.
  4. Once all ingredients have been added, whip for 3-4 minutes until the frosting is light and airy.

an overhead shot of a glass mixing bowl with peanut butter frosting

Tips to assemble a layer cake

These are my top three tips, but if you need a more in depth explanation or some more helpful photos, I’ve got a great tutorial for how to make a layer cake.

  • Be sure to level and torte each cake layer. Starting with a flat surface is key for stability. 
  • Use a piping tip to add the frosting between the layers. This again ensure a flat, even layer of frosting.
  • Fill in the gaps and add the crumb coat. A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting added prior to the final layer. The intention of the crumb coat is to pick up any loose crumbs so they don’t get mixed into the final layer of frosting. Use your piping bag to fill in those gaps and continue to spread it around to create the crumb coat.

two side by side images showing the process to frost a layer cake

Once your cake is assembled and frosted, it’s time to decorate. I chose a simple chocolate ganache on the top to balance out the peanut butter frosting. Save a little frosting for the top to decorate with and then added some peanut butter cups as a garnish.

How to store this cake

This can be stored at room temperature unless you live in a hot and humid environment. I recommend purchasing a cake carrier, which seals the cake with an airtight lock. It can also be a great way to transport the cake. I place some grippy material (like you would line a drawer with) on the bottom of the cake carrier to prevent the cake from sliding.

Tips for freezing

I don’t usually freeze a finished, frosted cake. Instead I’d recommend freezing the cake layers after they’ve completely cooled. Double wrap in plastic wrap, lining the top and bottom with parchment paper. Thaw the layers prior to frosting. The frosting can be made up to 2 days in advance, but I recommend rewhipping prior to using. 

a wide angle shot of a white cake plate with a peanut butter cake on it

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a white plate with a slice of 3 layers chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and Reese's peanut butter cups

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes (up to 25 minutes)
  • Total Time: 52 minutes
  • Yield: 12 slices

Description

Mouthwatering Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake is three layers of moist chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter frosting, chocolate ganache and peanut butter cups. Decadent, sweet and a little salty.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups (285g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (118 ml) light sour cream
  • 2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (55 g) cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon (5g) espresso powder (optional)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons (9 g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 ¼ cup (355 ml) brewed coffee

For the frosting:

  • 2 cups (454g) unsalted butter
  • 1 heaping cup (180g) peanut butter (up to 1 1/4 cup)
  • 78 cups (911-1041g) powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (60ml) heavy whipping cream or milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract

For the Ganache:

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons (90ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 68 Reese’s peanut butter cups for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8-inch round baking pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides. Prepare your bake even stripes if desired.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Alternate addning half the dry ingredients followed by half of the coffee and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  4. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, about 1 2/3 cups of batter per pan. Bake at 350°F for 20-24 minutes. Rotate your pans in the oven halfway through baking.
  6. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. For the frosting: Cut the butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until butter looks light in color. Next, beat the peanut butter until well mixed.
  8. Alternate adding 2-3 cups of powdered sugar at a time with the liquid ingredients: vanilla extract & heavy cream. Ensure all the powdered sugar is well combined and beat for 2-3 minutes before adding additional powdered sugar.
  9. Once all ingredients have been added, whip for 3-4 minutes until the frosting is light and airy. If the frosting is too thick, add additional heavy whipping cream 1 tablespoon at a time. Add a pinch of salt if needed to cut the sweetness.
  10. For the chocolate ganache: In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate and heavy whipping cream. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 50% power in 30-second increments and stir until completely combined. Allow to cool.
  11. To assemble this cake: level off your cakes by removing any domes. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and place the bottom layer of cake over that.
  12. Pipe the first layer of frosting, pipe in circles working outside edge to the middle. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Add the second layer of cake and add the remaining frosting. Place the third layer of cake on top.
  13. Use you offset spatulato press any excess frosting onto the edges of the cake. To finish, pipe the frosting along the outside edge of the cake using a large open round tip or a cake icer tip. Then use an offset spatula or icing comb to add texture to the frosting.
  14. Use a spoon or piping bag to drizzle the ganache along the edges of the cake. To pipe the rosettes on top, use a large piping bag, fill the piping bag with the remaining frosting and pipe the boarder of the cake on the top and bottom. Garnish with chopped peanut butter cups.

Notes

  • Cocoa powder: I prefer to use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder for the cake and regular or dutch processed cocoa powder for the frosting.
  • Sour cream substitute: If you don’t have light sour cream, substitute nonfat Greek yogurt. If you don’t have light sour cream, regular will work.
  • Brewed coffee substitute: If you don’t want to use coffee, you can use hot water or milk
  • Alternative cake size (cake recipe only- frosting recipe needs to be adjusted accordingly.
    • For two 9-inch cakes, they baked from 28-32 minutes. Baking times will vary due to how full the pans are, type of pans and true oven temperature. Please note these did “crust” a little more on the outside edge due to extended baking times and they rose quite a bite in the middle, so you’ll lose more of the “dome” of the cake.
    • For two 8-inch cakes, this should be baked for approximately 25-30 minutes, and about 2 1/4 cups of batter per pan
    • For 6-inch pans: a full recipe will make four 6-inch layers, filling each one with about 1 1/3 cup of batter and baking for approximately 22-28 minutes.
    • For 10 inch pans: I’ve never tested this with 10 inch pans, but I would recommend a 2 layer cake so you still have nice, thick layers. Trying baking for 18-20 minutes and assessing additional time needed from there
  • Storing this cake: This can be stored at room temperature unless you live in a hot and humid environment. I recommend a cake carrier, which seals the cake with an airtight lock.
  • Make ahead and freezing options: I don’t usually freeze a finished, frosted cake. Instead I’d recommend freezing the cake layers after they’ve completely cooled. Double wrap in plastic wrap, lining the top and bottom with parchment paper. Thaw the layers prior to frosting. The frosting can be made up to 2 days in advance, but I recommend rewhipping prior to using.
Nutrition Information:
1 slice
1040
98g
376mg
60g
34g
122g
3g
10.5g
145mg
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Chocolate cake recipe, peanut butter frosting, chocolate peanut butter cake recipe

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