Growing up, chocolate peanut butter cake was a childhood favorite dessert of mine… and still is today, for that matter. I have adapted the recipe over the years, but one thing has stayed the same: this cake doesn’t last very long before it’s completely eaten up!
I love making this cake for family gatherings and casual get-togethers with friends. I mean, who doesn’t love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter?
One secret to this cake is the addition of one cup of strong, hot coffee. Don’t worry about the cake tasting like coffee. The coffee just adds a depth of flavor and intensifies the cake’s rich chocolatey taste.
Make sure the coffee is hot; the heat helps bring the flavor out of the cocoa powder (this is called “blooming”). If you prefer not to use coffee, you can replace it with hot water instead.
WHAT KIND OF COCAO POWDER IS THE BEST FOR CHOCOLATE CAKE?
A good cocoa powder is super important when making any kind of chocolate cake. A lot of people have differing opinions about what the best brand is. I tend to switch it up, but usually prefer a rich, dark cocoa powder.
A few of my favorites are Valrhona, Ghirardelli, and Hershey’s Dark — all at different price points. It really just depends on your budget and the availability in your area, but keep in mind that the most expensive isn’t always necessarily the best.
I recommend trying out a few different brands to see what you and your family like best. You can definitely taste the difference in flavor that comes with a good cocoa powder.
CAN I USE 9″ CAKE PANS INSTEAD OF 8″ CAKE PANS?
Yes, this recipe can absolutely be used with either two 8” pans or two 9” pans. The only difference is the amount of time the cakes need to be in the oven. When using 9” pans, just reduce the cooking time by about five minutes.
In fact, feel free to use whatever size or shape of pan you would like — just keep an eye on your cakes in the oven and adapt the cooking time as necessary.
ONE FINAL NOTE
One final thing I want to note is that this recipe produces a fairly loose batter. I remember, when I started baking, being alarmed that the different cake recipes I researched produced batters that seemed far too runny or loose (and thinking that they would never bake up in the oven). Rest assured, this is totally normal and is actually what makes the cakes come out super moist and delicious!
Start by preheating the oven to 350℉.
With a pastry brush (or your fingers), brush two 8″ cake pans with melted butter.
Cut and lay two circles of parchment paper wide enough to fit into the bottom of both cake pans. To do this, I actually place one of the pans on top of the parchment paper, trace around the bottom of it with a pencil, and cut them out just inside the line.
Brush the top of the parchment paper with more melted butter.
Sprinkle flour into the pans to evenly coat the bottom and inner sides. Tap out and discard any excess flour.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix all the dry ingredients together on low speed until combined. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Then, with the mixer still on low speed, slowly pour in the hot coffee.
As soon as the mixture comes together, turn off the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, give the batter a final mix to ensure that all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Note that the batter will still be fairly liquid — this is normal!
Pour the cake batter into both prepared cake pans.
Set the cakes into your preheated oven and bake them for about 35 to 40 minutes, until they have risen and a wooden skewer can be poked into them and come out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool for 30 minutes in the pans before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the peanut butter frosting, beat the butter on a medium speed for about a minute, until it becomes creamy. I use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, but you can always use a hand mixer.
Add in the peanut butter and continue beating for about 30 seconds, until the butter and peanut butter are combined and smooth.
Next, add in the vanilla and salt and continue beating for another 10 seconds or so, until well combined.
Then, sift in the powdered sugar. (I remove the bowl from the stand mixer to do this, but it is entirely up to you!)
Continue beating the mixture for about a minute, again until well combined.
Finally, add in the cream and continue beating until light and smooth.
To frost the cake, start by placing one cake layer on a plate or serving platter. With a spoon, knife, or spatula, spread the peanut butter frosting on top.
Then, place the second cake layer on top. Spread the remaining frosting over top and sides of the cake, as desired.
Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
This rich and moist chocolate cake — topped with creamy peanut butter frosting — is pure indulgence. It’s easy, unassuming, and definitely a crowd pleaser!
For Preparing the Cake Pans
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2–3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups white sugar
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (at room temperature)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
For the Peanut Butter Frosting
- 12 Tbsp (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 2 cups smooth peanut butter
- 2 cups powdered (icing) sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp kosher salt
Preparing the Cake Pans
- Preheat oven to 350℉.
- With a pastry brush (or your fingers), brush two 8" cake pans with melted butter.1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Cut and lay two circles of parchment paper wide enough to fit into the bottom of both cake pans.
- Brush the top of the parchment paper with melted butter.
- Sprinkle flour into pans to evenly coat the bottom and inner sides. Tap out and discard excess flour.2–3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Making the Cake Layers
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix together on low speed until combined. Set aside.2 cups all-purpose flour2 cups white sugar¾ cup cocoa powder2 tsp baking soda1 tsp baking powder1 tsp kosher salt
- In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.1 cup buttermilk½ cup vegetable oil2 large eggs1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
- With the mixer still on low speed, slowly pour in the hot coffee.1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
- As soon as the mixture comes together, turn off the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, give the batter a final mix to ensure that all ingredients are fully incorporated. Note: batter will still be fairly liquid.
- Pour batter into prepared cake pans and set into preheated oven.
- Bake until cakes have risen and a wooden skewer can be poked into them and come out clean (about 35 to 40 minutes).
- Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pans before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Preparing the Peanut Butter Frosting
- Meanwhile, place butter In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until creamy (about 1 minute).12 Tbsp (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
- Add in peanut butter. Continue beating until smooth (about 30 seconds).2 cups smooth peanut butter
- Add in vanilla and salt. Continue beating until well combined (about 10 seconds).1 tsp pure vanilla extract½ tsp kosher salt
- Remove bowl from stand mixer. Sift in powdered sugar. Beat again until well combined (about 1 minute).2 cups powdered (icing) sugar
- Add in cream and continue beating until light and smooth.½ cup heavy cream
Frosting the Cake
- Place first cake layer on a plate or serving platter. With a spoon, knife, or spatula, spread frosting on top.
- Place second cake layer on top. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake, as desired.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve. Store cake in the refrigerator.
- Make sure the cake layers have cooled completely before beginning to frost the cake.