Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.


Epic Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake (in which I make cake, mousse, and ganache and mash it all together)

SOMEONE is having a very special birthday today. Hint: It is Ken! Happy quarter century, buddy!

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get on to the good stuff.

The good stuff, obviously, being THIS CAKE.

Note: not my picture. DUH. Source: here.

Let’s dissect this sucker. I never really liked dissection (frog innards=absolutely unnecessary to gaze upon), but this is the kind of science I can really get behind.

From the bottom up, that’s a cake layer, a peanut butter mousse layer, another cake layer, another peanut butter mousse layer, ANOTHER cake layer, and then, topping it all off, that’s some peanut butter chocolate ganache. I don’t even know how to pronounce that  last word…that’s how you know a recipe is REALLY good. I’m guessing “ganache” does NOT rhyme with “karate,” though I dearly wish it did.

You can’t stop me from pronouncing it that way in my head, though.

This is the cake that Ken requested for his birthday. The man was actually going to MAKE IT HIMSELF before I forcibly wrestled him away from the KitchenAid. It would perhaps have turned out better if I’d let him bake his own cake, but WHATEVER. It’s the principle of the thing.

Also, I’d show you my own pictures of my cake endeavors, but they’d look like this:

peanut butter mousse. I promise.

UHHHHH, YEAH. I know. In my defense, that is an actual unedited photo of the peanut butter mousse. I would apologize, but, well, this is reality.

Here’s the recipe…what you’ve all been waiting for.  The recipe is originally found here.

  • For the Cake:
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 7 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) cocoa
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • For the Peanut Butter Mousse:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup cream peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • For the Peanut Butter Ganache:
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

(It should be evident by this point how much I love Kenny. My right eye normally starts twitching when I come across recipes that have more than 5 ingredients.)

For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, stir chocolate into coffee and set aside. In large bowl, whisk sugar, buttermilk, egg, yolk, oil, salt, and vanilla until combined. In small bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder until combined. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet until combined. Whisk in the coffee mixture until smooth.

Pour 1/3 batter in one pan and the remaining 2/3 in the other pan. Bake until just firm, about 20 to 25 minutes, respectively. Let cake cool in pans for 15 minutes, then invert cakes onto wire rack to cool completely before assembling cake.

For the Peanut Butter Mousse: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese with sugar, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until creamy and light, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Switch to whip attachment and beat cream on high speed to stiff but not dry peaks. Fold cream into peanut butter mixture. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Slice the larger of the two cakes into two layers. Place on serving plate and stack cake layers with peanut butter mousse. Keep chilled until ganache is ready to use.

For the Peanut Butter Ganache: Using the microwave or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, heat the chocolate and cream until melted and smooth. Gently whisk in peanut butter. Chill until just firm enough to frost, about 30 minutes. Frost cake and serve.

So. We have yet to devour said cake (something about having to wait until after dinner? Boooo.), but I am drooling just writing the post. I am pretty glad Ken was born 25 years ago today just so we can eat this cake. There may be one or two other reasons why I am glad he was born, but let’s keep it in perspective. Go ahead. Scroll back up to that first picture. I understand.

Happy birthday, Kenny! And for all you regular peeps who are not having a birthday, happy Friday! Over and out.