Hello there! It’s been awhile!
This hostess-with-the-mostess hosted her fiance’s five closest friends and two sisters this past weekend to celebrate his 29th birthday. In a one-bedroom house. With one bathroom and no air-conditioning (minus the bedroom). If you did your addition correctly, you would know that was 9 people total sharing those accommodations plus my two furry children. There was only one monster birthday cake I could think of that would be able to take on that kind of crowd:
The “Honey I’m Peanuts About You!” cake. This recipe has a terribly corny (or nutty…?) name, but it’s a fabulous concoction of chocolate ganache, peanut butter buttercream, moist chocolate cake, and honey roasted peanuts. It takes the combination of peanut butter and chocolate one step further by incorporating the honey roasted peanuts, and the salty sweetness keeps it from tasting too over-indulgent. I made the cake for the first time two years ago for my honey’s birthday when I was still an amateur baker who was more interested in decorating than creating. I guess I still am an amateur baker…unless a paid internship counts. Anyway, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks since then that doubled the appeal and quality of this cake this time around, and I’m prepared to share them with you so you can delight in the peanut buttery goodness too.
As a side note-it’s more than a coincidence that I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with a man who is as obsessed with peanut butter and chocolate as I am. What the heck would I do with a guy who only liked vanilla?
“Honey, I’m Peanuts About You!” Cake
Stuff You’ll Need
Makes one 9-inch cake with 12-16 servings
For the Cake
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups hot, strong coffee or espresso
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar, sifted or chunks removed
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 9″ round cake pans, greased and lined with parchment paper
For the Buttercream
- 18oz jar of creamy peanut butter
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
For the Ganache
- 24oz semisweet chocolate chips or chopped
- 1 1/2 cup (12oz) heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 12oz package of honey roasted peanuts, roughly chopped or broken (see tips below)
How to Do It
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Dissolve the cocoa and the buttermilk into the hot coffee or espresso, and set aside to cool.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together, and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer at medium speed for 5-6 minutes, or until the ingredients are light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs and vanilla extract to the mixture, and scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary to incorporate all the ingredients.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer, and begin alternately folding in the dry and wet ingredients. This works best if you use a heavy rubber spatula and alternate folding 1/3 of the dry ingredients with 1/2 of the wet ingredients. The batter will be lighter than an average cake batter, but be careful not to overmix. The cake should be very moist when it’s fully baked which won’t happen if the batter is overmixed.
- Pour half the batter in each prepared pan, and bake for 40-42 minutes, rotating the pan at approximately 20 minutes. Test for doneness by sticking a fork or toothpick into the center of each cake. Remove from the oven, and allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a baking rack.
- While the cake is baking, cream the butter and peanut butter together using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until ingredients are completely blended and very creamy, 4-5 minutes. Remove the paddle attachment, and replace it with the whip attachment (if you’re using an electric mixer, you don’t have to worry about switching). Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar 1/2 cup at a time while continuously whipping the buttercream. The buttercream should be spreadable but not soft and should be similar to the texture of a thick peanut butter. If it’s still too soft after 2 1/4 cups of confectioner’s sugar are added, add more sugar 1/4 cup at a time until the desired consistency is reached. When you’ve finished whipping the buttercream, set it aside until the cake has completely cooled.
- Make the ganache while the cake is cooling. Place the chocolate in a large stainless steel mixing bowl, and place the heavy cream and butter in a small sauce pan. Heat the cream over medium-high heat until it begins to thicken and boil. When the cream begins to rise quickly to the top of the pan, remove it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate immediately. Allow the chocolate to rest with the hot cream for 5-10 minutes before stirring. At this point, use a heavy wire whisk to blend the chocolate and cream until the mixture is consistent and creamy. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before using. The final consistency of the ganache will be similar to a canned chocolate frosting-spreadable but solid.
- When the cake has cooled completely, gently remove it from the pan, and using a sharp knife or cake leveler, split each layer in half horizontally. Place the first layer on a cake stand or flat plate, and generously top with peanut butter buttercream. Gently spread the buttercream over the layer to completely cover it, and place the second layer on top. Repeat until you’ve place the final layer on top of the cake. Spread a generous portion of the cooled chocolate ganache on the top and sides of the cake until it’s completely covered, and while the chocolate is still soft, cover the sides with chopped honey roasted peanuts.
- Cover the cake (this is easiest in a cake caddy so the sides do not touch anything), and refrigerate for at least three hours up to overnight before serving. You can freeze the cake for up to 4 hours also if you’re able to let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. This firms up all the layers and makes it extra indulgent!
Recipe adapted from FoodNetwork.com.
Tips & Treats
- Honey roasted peanuts are delightful…but they’re not easy to “chop” unless you have one of those handy-dandy slap-chop things. If you’re aren’t that lucky, put them in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, sealed with as much air pressed out as possible, and use a rolling pin to roll over them several times. This will give you fine pieces to cover the sides of the cake with, and be sure to press them on while the ganache is still soft.
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