Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache
Another birthday has come and gone. I'm now in my late 30's. Which means I'm basically 40.
As a little girl, birthdays were everything. My expectations were off the charts. I wanted new clothes, new hair, new jewelry, concert tickets, a stretch limo to take me to the concert, all my friends with me in the limo, toasts in my honor, and of course, a birthday cake that topped all birthday cakes. Turning a year older used to be a grand event.
Now, that I'm 37, have three kids, a house to keep clean, and enough daily tasks to make my head spin, I have zero expectations. I honestly couldn't care less about my birthday. No fuss, no parties, no phone calls. No singing. I really hate the singing. But one thing I do want...I WANT A BIRTHDAY CAKE THAT TOPS ALL BIRTHDAY CAKES. Because I love cake. And I want to eat that cake in bed, surrounded by fluffy pillows, not a slice, the whole cake, giant fork, from the top, because that's where all the frosting is, with no judgement, and the door locked, while I watch reruns of Sex and the City, and cry a little because I'm basically 40, I still haven't run a marathon, and have officially entered mom-jean territory.
So, I made my own cake. Because as I mentioned, I wanted the birthday cake to top ALL birthday cakes. And I make really good cakes. I do it for a living. So when my husband offered to make a cake for me, with the boys, sure, it sounded so cute and sweet. Imagining all of them in the kitchen, all day, putting a cake together, making a huge mess while they giggle and toss flour everywhere. But here's what that really looks like: I'm sitting alone, all day, listening to my boys fight and whine over who gets to turn the mixer on, eggs dropped on the floor, boogers in the batter, possibly a few stray hairs too, definitely slobbery fingers, my husband asking me questions EVERY SINGLE SECOND because he has no clue what he's doing, "Are baking powder and baking soda the same thing?" And then the leftover mess...which is always ten times more disastrous than the one I would have made. So...thanks, but no thanks. How about Daddy takes everyone to the park, so mommy can whip up a perfectly delectably, booger and slobber free, cake of her dreams, in under an hour, in peace and quiet, with no one letting her know they made a poop in their diaper, cause that sounds UH-mazing. Yeah, let's do that.
Cause you know what happens when you hit your late 30's, basically 40, you have three kids, a house to keep clean, and enough daily tasks to make your head spin? Your patience level drops to ZERO. You get better and better at expressing what you really want and not trying to always do what others want. I don't want to be woken up at the butt crack of dawn because my kids couldn't wait to give me a birthday card. Seriously, it's my birthday, let me sleep in. I don't want a party, that means I have to talk to people. I don't want to go to dinner, that means I have to get dressed. All I WANT IS CAKE THAT TOPS ALL BIRTHDAY CAKES. In my bed, fluffy pillows, giant fork, with no judgement, Sex and the City, or maybe Dirty Dancing, because Patrick Swayze goes great with cake, plus there's dirty dancing, and some tears because did I mention I'm basically 40?
So, that's what I asked for, and I got it. Thank you! I made the birthday cake that tops all birthday cakes, which for me is peanut butter and chocolate, filled with peanut butter cups and drizzled with dark chocolate ganache, and I ate it in bed with fluffy pillows and Patrick Swayze. But since I'm not totally selfish (I'm a mom, even on our birthdays it's simply not part of the job description), and I do adore and appreciate my husband and kids, I let them join me. But they got small forks. And no leftovers.
I also adore and appreciate you and think you deserve the birthday cake (or even a Tuesday cake) to top all birthday cakes, so I'm sharing my ultimate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cake, filled with chunks of peanut butter cups and topped with dark chocolate ganache. Happy Birthday (or Tuesday)!
Buttermilk Chocolate Cake
* Makes a 3 layered 6" cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three 6" round pans.
- In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter, on medium high speed, till light and fluffy. About 3-5 minutes.
- On low speed, add vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Mix till combined, scraping the bowl as needed.
- On low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients, followed by 1/2 of the buttermilk. Repeat. Mix until smooth but do not over beat.
- Stir in the melted chocolate till combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between prepared cake pans.
- Bake on middle rack for 30-35 minutes, till a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
* Baker's Note: For precise altitude adjustments see here.
Peanut Butter Frosting
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1-2 tbsp heavy cream (or more as needed)
- With an electric mixer, cream the butter, cream cheese, and peanut butter.
- Slowly add the vanilla and powdered sugar.
- Once combined, add the heavy cream, as needed, to thin the frosting just slightly. Mix on high speed for 3 minutes till light and fluffy.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
- 6 oz dark chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- Do not make the ganache until your cake has its final layer of frosting has been chilled for at least 30 min.
- Place the chocolate in a medium sized heat proof bowl. Set aside.
- In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the whipping cream till it begins to bubble. Pour the hot whipping cream over the chocolate, then stir until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly, but not so much that it sets. You want it spreadable.
- Have some extra peanut butter cups on hand, roughly chopped, to fill the layers, and some whole peanut butter cups for decoration.
- Place a flat bottomed cooled cake layer on a serving platter. Cover the top with a generous layer of peanut butter frosting. Sprinkle with chopped peanut butter cups, if desired.
- Place the second cake layer, flat side facing up, on top of the frosted first layer. Cover the top with a generous layer of peanut butter frosting. Sprinkle with chopped peanut butter cups, if desired.
- Place the final cake layer, flat side facing up. Apply a thin crumb coat of frosting. Chill for 15 minutes, uncovered.
- Remove cake from fridge and, with an offset spatula, apply a generous layer of peanut butter frosting over the entire cake, starting at the top and smoothing down and over the sides.
- Chill the cake once more, for at least 30 minutes, before drizzling ganache.
- Spoon the ganache generously over the chilled cake, allowing it to drip over the sides. The cooled cake should set the drips. Decorate with extra peanut butter cups.
- Serve at room temperature. Can be made one day ahead, kept chilled.