Moist and tender peanut butter cake gets topped with fluffy chocolate buttercream frosting and salty peanuts. Peanut + chocolate = A Winning Combo!
One of my FAVORITE candies of all time is Peanut Butter Cups. What’s not to love about the flavor combo of peanut butter and chocolate? Creamy peanut butter wrapped in milk chocolate, oh yes! And I don’t limit my love for this flavor combination to just candy. One of my favorite cookies is Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies. You can find that recipe here on the blog. So, when I went looking for a tasty snack cake, peanut butter and chocolate immediately came to mind! There was a recipe clipping in my files, from an old cooking magazine that I had always wanted to try. So I started there and made a few modifications. The results are perfect for all your choco-peanut-loving-friends!
When is the last time you baked a cake? Cake baking can seem intimidating, but trust me, it’s not any harder than making cookies! If you are new to baking, cakes that are baked in a 9×13-inch pan are especially easy, since they are so simple to frost! The first-ever cake I learned how to make was a chocolate cake called a “3-Hole” or “Wacky Cake”. The name describes it perfectly, because you sift all the ingredients right into the pan, make 3 indentations (holes) in the dry ingredients and pour cooking oil, vanilla and vinegar into the holes. Then you pour a couple cups of water over the top and whisk it all together with a fork and bake it. How easy is that? I should really post that recipe (note to self). It was a family favorite when I was growing up and still is. AND you know what else…. it’s vegan! Which is actually pretty awesome, since vegan recipes weren’t really a thing back in the 70’s.
OK, I am way off track now….back to THIS peanut butter cake. This luscious, tender peanut-butter-lovers-dessert. You probably have everything you need right now in your kitchen cupboard, because it’s all the baking basics. Flour, brown sugar, baking powder AND baking soda, salt, butter, peanut butter, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk. No buttermilk? No worries…you can make a substitute! Before you start mixing up the rest of the cake ingredients, put a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a liquid measuring cup, then add enough regular milk to equal one cup. Let it stand while you begin mixing the cake and it will be slightly curdled and ready to go right when you need it. This little substitution works perfect for any baking recipe that calls for buttermilk or sour milk. I still prefer reaall buttermilk for pancakes though, since it has that rich flavor.
There’s just a few things to keep in mind when baking cakes. Number One…. avoid the temptation to dump everything into a bowl and mix it all together, unless the recipe specifically states that it’s OK to do it that way. Cakes are mixed in steps, so the sugar dissolves in the butter completely and eggs get beaten in to make the batter light and fluffy. Light and fluffy batter=light and fluffy cake. Nobody want a brick on a plate for dessert. So don’t skimp on the mixing time here, give it the full 4 minutes. You will be glad you did! And Number Two in this scenario…follow the directions to add the flour and buttermilk in 3 additions. This will make sure all your flour gets mixed in thoroughly. See? That’s not so hard, the rest is just basic baking! That’s all you need to do…measure accurately and follow directions.
Now comes the hard part…waiting for it to cool so you can slather it in chocolate frosting! This chocolate buttercream has a yummy light chocolate flavor and it’s nice and fluffy! Your cake is going to be so tasty AND pretty! Speaking of pretty….Want to know the secret for how we food stylists get those photographic swirls of creamy dreamy frosting? We don’t use a knife or a spatula. Those work great if you want a smooth coating of frosting. But if you want those curvy, swirls and twirls that make frosting look so luscious and decadent, use the back of a spoon. Any regular cereal spoon that you have in your drawer will do! Just practice a bit. There is no right or wrong way and your cake will be stunning! So frost away and then give your cake a nice helping of crunchy, salty peanuts. That little bit a texture and salt brings the flavor profile up another big notch!
So step away from the peanut butter cups and resist the urge to make peanut butter cookies to satisfy your craving and MAKE THIS PEANUT BUTTER CAKE! Your family will love you (and it!). Happy Baking!
Tips and Tricks for Your Best Baking:
- Measure flour accurately by lightly spooning into measuring cup and leveling off with a straight edge; don’t measure by directly scooping flour with measuring cup or you will have too much and your cake will be heavier.
- Be sure butter is at room temperature, so it gets smooth and creamy…no lumps here!
- Be sure to pack brown sugar into measuring cup to get an accurate measurement.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, put 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup; add enough milk to measure 1 cup and let it stand while you begin making the cake.
- Be sure to beat the brown sugar, peanut butter and butter together for the full 4 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Test for doneness with a toothpick in the center of the cake; edges bake more quickly, so always test in the center unless otherwise instructed.
Yields 24 servings
15 minPrep Time
45 minCook Time
1 hrTotal Time
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
- 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons cocoa
- 6 tablespoons butter, sofened
- 5 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- - coarsely chopped cocktail peanuts
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
- In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
- In large bowl, beat brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, and peanut butter at medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time beating just until blended. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk; mix just until blended.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Cool completely on wire rack.
- When cake has cooled, prepare frosting: In medium bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cocoa. Add remaining ingredients, except peanuts and blend on low speed until creamy. Add a little additional milk if needed to create desired consistency. Spread frosting over cooled cake. Sprinkle with peanuts.
- Store covered at room temperature.