In the mood for chocolate and peanut butter? Look no further. I experimented a few times with this recipe, even though for the life of me I couldn't cut the cake in beautiful wedge-shaped slices as the original blogger did (and her photos are beautiful!).
Honestly, though, you won't want a wedge-shaped slice. One little piece is all you'll want, possibly with a cup of black coffee. This is a rich, decadent beast of a cake, meant to be savored in small portions. Keep this in mind when making it, since you will be able to feed a lot of people with this triple-layer cake from heaven. Or just maybe, you won't get tired of eating small pieces every day for a couple of weeks, while hiding the cake container from your family.
This recipe has three components:
- Three layers of flourless chocolate cake (hey, it's gluten free!)
- Peanut butter buttercream frosting
- Chocolate ganache
One small piece of decadent chocolatey heaven.
Peanut Butter Cup Delight
Serves 30, if you cut really small pieces. Or hey, just overindulge--I'm not your judge.
1 cup (two sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chopped from a bar)
1 cup cane juice crystals (or sugar)
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Dutch process)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease three eight-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. Melt the butter and chocolate chips in a medium saucepan over low heat (can use microwave).
Meanwhile, beat the eggs and sugar together for 3-5 minutes (I use a super powerful Bosch Universal Mixer on Speed 3 or 4 so it doesn't take that long) on high speed until pale and more than doubled in volume. Add the vanilla to the eggs and beat until combined. Sift in the cocoa and salt and mix again until combined. Stream in the melted chocolate and butter, and beat until combined.
Divide into the prepared cake pans and bake for--start with 15 minutes, and add time up to 25 minutes--until an inserted toothpick comes out with some crumbs attached but no longer wet. (The first time I baked the cakes at 20 minutes, they came out dry, and my oven usually bakes more slowly.) Remove from oven, carefully invert onto cooling racks and cool thoroughly.
Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting
If you like, you can prepare this once you've spread the ganache on the cake layers.
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (I use natural pb)
1 1/2 cups (three sticks) butter
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar
8-10 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Cream together the peanut butter and butter. Add the salt and vanilla. Alternately add the powdered sugar and cream. If too thin, add more cane juice crystals; if too thick add more cream. Beat until fluffy.
3 cups chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) -- can use combo of semi-sweet and milk chocolate
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
Prepare the ganache once you're ready for assembly, since you'll want to spread it on the cake layers right after making it. Melt chocolate and butter in a small saucepan on low heat (or use a double boiler, or the microwave), stirring pretty much constantly until it is melted and smooth.
Once cakes have cooled, make sure each cake is un-stuck from its respective cooling rack! Also, when spreading the chocolate ganache, make sure you divide it evenly enough for each of three layers plus the top of the completely frosted cake.
Spread a layer of ganache on top of each cake layer, then carefully set each layer--still on its cooling rack--into the freezer for about 5-10 minutes. This helps the ganache to harden, making it sooo much easier to spread the frosting on the layers. You'll have to trust me on this. If you haven't done it yet, prepare the buttercream frosting while the cakes are in the freezer. The cakes can stay in the freezer for a while if you need--though if you let them stay there overnight you should carefully cover them in plastic after the ganache initially hardens.
Once the ganache is hardened, remove the cake layers from the freezer one at a time to frost them. Frost the top of the first layer, then add the second, frost that, then add the third and frost that. Finish frosting the sides, then spread the remaining ganache on the top of the cake, letting the ganache drip down the sides.
And, since I had some Trader Joe's dark chocolate mini peanut butter cups in my pantry (because who wouldn't make sure her pantry is stocked with those?), I used them for decorating--whole ones for the top, and cut-in-half ones pushed gently into the frosting all around the base of the cake..
You didn't think the cutting part of this recipe would be easy, did you? *wink* The only easy part of it all is actually eating it. Because this cake can really soften into a mess, I initially store it in the fridge. But, although this keeps the ganache cold, it also keeps it hard. So, for cutting and serving, I keep the cake on the counter or table anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before serving. You can cut it right out of the fridge, though--just be careful and go easy and slow. If you don't care how messy this gets, get a really sharp knife (I use a long serrated one) and start cutting. Otherwise, run the knife under hot water to warm it up, then cut. When the knife gets too gooey and full of yumminess, scrape it off (because you'll want to eat that part), run it under hot water again, and continue the process.
To get the maximum number of servings--instead of watching people eat a quarter of their pieces then throwing the rest out (it's that rich)--make your first slice straight across the cake about a third of the way in. Then cut slices perpendicular to that initial cut. Once that section is served, make another long cut across the remainder of the cake, cutting it in half, then cut more perpendicular slices from there. You can easily serve 30 people cutting any cake this way!
Whew, that's a ton of work. But this beast of a cake is so worth it!
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