The Girl Scouts that live on the corner have been tormenting me for a few weeks now. There they are, on the lawn of their house with their dad sitting in a shaded chair in the background, immersed in his phone. They stand behind an adorable makeshift sales stand, their brown and green vests highlighting the piles and piles of brightly colored boxes. They’re centered on one of the busiest street corners of our neighborhood, sweetly smiling and waving at all of the cars driving by on either side of the 5 o’clock hour.
The temptation is almost too much.
We see them only on our evening walks, which we’re trying to make more of a habit after a particularly gluttonous holiday season. We purposely stay on the other side of the street to avoid any forced “hellos” that would inevitably result in me bartering with them for a trade… “I’ll give you this Golden Retriever if you hand over all of the Shortbread, Thin Mints, and Samoas you have, little girl.”
Then, one tempting afternoon, I started thinking about the peanut butter patties they sell. Or tag-alongs, or whatever they’re called… What if I made a cake that tasted like one of those delicious peanut butter patties? And topped it WITH said cookies? That would be amazing.
But this hit at about 11 AM on a Friday afternoon, long before the neighborhood Girl Scouts opened for business. I was forced to redirect my focus to some other peanut butter and chocolate treat, and found it in adorably tiny Reese’s. Until next year, Girl Scout cookies… We’ll see if you can tempt me then. Muahaha.
This cake was promising in my head, but incredible once it came to fruition and materialized on my plate. The base is a sinfully tender and dark chocolate cake, Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe, to be exact. She amplifies the chocolate flavors with a cup of stout black coffee in the batter. I poured in a piping hot cup of the Texas Pecan that we had brewed that morning, and the sweet nutty essence was decadent alongside the peanut butter frosting.
Oh yes, the frosting… As I beat the peanut butter and pale soft butter together in the bowl of my stand mixer, I suddenly wondered why it had taken so long to reach this point in my life. Watching those two beloved ingredients meld together into a smooth, creamy, undoubtedly delicious base was completely satisfying. Then in went the powdered sugar and I thought my taste buds might explode. I cannot stress how good it is. Nor can the two furry creatures who stood at my feet the entire time I made it, drawn to me by the powerful peanut-y scent of their version of crack.
I topped the frosted cake off with a thick chocolate glaze, like a smooth and decadent top hat. A mixture of whole and halved teeny tiny Reese’s cups went on top of that, clustered in the center like a candy mountain of the world’s best flavors.
This is my favorite cake from recent history. The tenderness of the rich chocolate cake layers mingled with the fragrant and sinful peanut butter frosting is almost too much – almost intimidating. I sent half of this cake to work with the boy to get it out of my kitchen and hands, and he said his coworkers had to warm up to it before diving in like they would with cookies or scones. These flavors don’t joke around. They are intense, delicious, and RICH. And worth every caloric mouthful.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Glaze
For the Cake
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup quality cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup hot coffee
For the Peanut Butter Buttercream
- 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 lbs powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream as needed
For the Chocolate Glaze
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, gently whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.
- With the mixer running, pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and beat until combined on low speed. Slowly add the hot coffee (I used a Texas Pecan roast and really enjoyed the added flavor) and mix until combined.
- Prepare two 8″ cake pans with baking spray, and evenly distribute the batter between them. Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.
- For the frosting, beat the butter and peanut butter on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (take a big whiff of it – it’s amazing). Add the vanilla, and the powdered sugar in ½ cup increments, waiting to add the next until the previous is combined. If you notice the frosting getting dry, add 1 tablespoon of the heavy cream at a time. Once everything is combined, beat on medium high speed for about 30 seconds to get nice and fluffy.
- Using a long, serrated knife, cut the domed part of the cakes off and discard (or nibble on). Cut the cakes evenly in half horizontally, ending with four layers. Use a piping bag (or simply a spatula, but the piping bag gives you more control) to evenly fill the layers, stacking one on top of the other. Ice a very thin layer over all of the cake to catch all of the crumbs. Freeze the cake for about 15 minutes at this point, to solidify any crumbs and attain a solid surface to finish icing the cake (This chocolate cake is very tender, and as a result very crumbly. This method will help you avoid catching too many crumbs in the icing.)
- Complete icing the cake. To make the glaze, place a glass bowl over a small sauce pan with simmering water in it (make sure the water isn’t touching the glass). On low heat, stir together the chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup. This will take a while, but keep the temperature on low and stir with a rubber spatula frequently, until glossy and smooth. Pour the glaze evenly over the top of the cake and use a spatula or icing knife to help it drizzle down the sides. You can microwave the glaze in 20 second intervals to loosen it up if it hardened a bit before use.
- Top the cake with mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, some halved to show the interior.