Every time I bring a cake into work for various occasions (birthdays, celebrations, potlucks), my boss says: This is my new favorite cake. Reading between the lines, she likes everything I bake. Still it was a challenge coming up with her birthday cake this year. (Last year I made her birthday bars and she ended up not getting a cake from anyone. This year it had to be cake. I wasn’t going to be part of the party of non-cake making persons this year.)
Since she likes every cake I bring in, I had a lot of choices to draw from. But I also remember her being particularly thrilled with a Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake I brought in earlier in the year. So I thought I would go with the same combo again. This cake was inspired by one found on crepesofwrath.net.
- 1 c. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
- 4 T. butter
- cream or milk
- I like to bake the cake the day before I’m frosting it and throw it in the freezer until I’m ready to assemble. Sometimes I’ll throw the layers in the freezer right in the pan. I find it easier to cut the layers when the cake is at least partially frozen. You’ll want to let it thaw slightly. For this cake I baked the cake in two 8-inch round pans that were very tall. If there’s a “dome” on the cake, saw it off using a bread knife; then slice the layers in half. I had two very thick layers (four layers total).
- To avoid a mess, slide some wax paper underneath the bottom layer of first cake layer. Otherwise you’ll find yourself wiping up the frosting that will inevitably get onto your cake stand. Apply frosting on top the first layer and smooth it around until it’s almost to the edge of the layer. Top with remaining layers and repeat.
- Do a quick crumb coat. Apply a small amount of frosting to the sides of the cake and smooth in one direction, rotating your cake stand as you frost. Smooth frosting over the top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and frost with a second layer of frosting. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
- While your frosted cake is chilling, make your ganache. If you have a double boiler, use that. You can also place a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Or you can microwave or cook on the stove over low heat. Add chocolate and butter to your bowl or pot and stir constantly over until melted. Add milk or cream to thin out the ganache. Remove from heat, remove the cake from the fridge and immediately pour the ganache over the cake. If the ganache is too thick you may have to spread it across the cake. Do it as gently as possible allowing the chocolate to drip down the sides of the cake. Place the cake back in the fridge until the chocolate sets or overnight. I always like to serve cakes the next day to allow the cake to “settle” and the layers and frosting to meld.
This cake sat out on the file cabinet in between my boss and my coworkers desks for about six hours. It drew lots of attention. Lots of oohs and aahs. Lots of exclamations of how beautiful the cake looked. And, curiously, the smell got lots of attention, too. It has a very strong peanut butter smell that becomes evident the closer you get.
Once again the frosting was the star of the show. Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting always draws lots of compliments. It’s smooth and buttery and light. The cake was a bit hard to cut into because the cake it’s self was so dense and the layers were thick. I believe you need a more substantial frosting or filling in between such heavy and thick layers of cake. But the flavor combination of peanut butter and chocolate is unmatched and the chocolate ganache melted over the top brings it all together.