Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Cake

by Julia Robarts on June 18, 2012

in Dessert

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there!  I spent the day cooking up some of my mate’s favorite dishes, including a new cinnamon-apple pancake with streusal topping (posting later this week!), guacamole with feta, and chili-rubbed tenderloin with apricot ginger glaze. But the big finale, anticipated by all, was definitely this decadent double-frosted chocolate cake.

I got the inspiration from Pinterest several weeks ago, and followed the pin to The Slow Roasted Italian. The luscious looking peanut butter frosting topped with chocolate ganache looked amazing. I immediately thought of my dad, who passed away three years ago. Peanut butter was his absolute hands-down favorite food, and he was particularly fond of the PB/choc combo. I knew it would be a perfect and sweet ending to Father’s Day, and a great way to wow the crowd I was feeding while honoring my Dad with a dessert he would have gone gaga over.

My daddy-o, Tony, circa 1993

I’m going to be completely honest and say this is more work than I would typically commit to, but I am willing to go the extra mile when it involves chocolate and peanut butter. (Really, who wouldn’t?) To break up the labor, you might consider making the cake layers one day, then finish the next day after making the frostings. The cake itself is easy and can be hand-mixed. I went with a cake recipe I have made many times. Every time I’ve serve it up, somebody claims their undying love to it.  It’s dense, moist, and chocolatey, and completely delicious on its own as a snack cake with just a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar. But, I elevated it to SuperStar Dessert status by topping it with the one-two combo of peanut butter fudge frosting and a chocolate-peanut butter ganache. Both relatively easy to make, even if — like me — you have thrown your useless sifter away in a fit of frustration and end up having to sift 7 cups of confectioner’s sugar like so:

It was all worth it, though. As expected, this cake was a HUGE hit. My mom finished her whole piece (if you knew her, you would know this is a highly unusual event) AND she snuck a piece home to have for breakfast 🙂 And, all around the table there were happy noises as everyone took their first bites.

So, if you’ve got a serious PB/choc craving, or are looking for a special way to celebrate your birthday, job promotion, or new shoes, or just your exceptional closet-organizing skills, this is the cake for you!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Cake
Serves 16

Best Ever Chocolate Cake

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sour milk (or 1 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon vinegar)
1 cup hot water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease bottom and sides of two cake pans. Trace the bottom of the pans on two pieces of wax paper, and cut out the rounds. Put a wax paper round into the bottom of each cake pan, then butter the wax paper.

Sift all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (oil through vanilla) and stir to combine. Either stir vigorously for 2 minutes with a large spoon, or beat with mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 35 minutes. Test the center with a toothpick. Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 20 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely. If you are planning to frost the cakes the following day, wrap in plastic wrap to prevent drying.

Place the bottom layer on a cake stand or large plate. Using the Peanut Butter Fudge frosting (recipe below), frost the top of the bottom layer. Settle top layer evenly on top. Frost the top of that layer. Then frost the sides evenly all the way around. Pour the ganache (recipe below), which has cooled some but is still pourable, and drizzle it along the top edges all the way around. astly, pour a neat circle of ganache on the top-center of the cake. Sprinkle ganache with chopped peanuts if desired.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
Recipe adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian
Makes ~2 cups

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
¾ cup half-and-half

In a double boiler, slowly melt the chocolate and peanut butter over simmering water (or, add both ingredients to a microwave-safe bowl, and cook on medium power for 30-second intervals, stirring between each time until mixutre is smooth and satiny). Remove pan from heat, and slowly whisk in the half-and-half. Set aside for later use.

Peanut Butter Fudge Frosting
Recipe adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian

16 ounces Neufchatel cheese, at room temperature
12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 pounds (about 7 ½ cups) confectioners sugar, sifted
1½ cups natural peanut butter

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add sugar (a cup at a time), beating until each addition, until it is all incorporated. Add peanut butter and beat until smooth.

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