I wanted to make a cake for a colleague who was leaving which would hit all of the right buttons. They have a slight affinity for peanut butter and sweet chocolate. Added to the fact they had avoided cake in the work place, I knew I had a challenge. Starting with my recipe for THE chocolate cake for the sponge, I went from there. My recipe for peanut butter butter cream is just the right balance of sweet, salty, and nuttiness. If you go the extra step and add a white chocolate ganache drip and decorate the cake with chopped peanuts, I guarantee you’re onto a crowd pleaser. They certainly liked the cake as they had more than one slice…
Hands-on Time 40 minutes (plus cooling)
Baking Time 25 minutes
350g (plus extra for greasing) Unsalted butter (softened)
40g plus 2 tsp Cocoa powder
50ml plus 3 tbsp Full-fat milk
120g Dark chocolate (minimum 70%)
300g Caster sugar
4 Eggs, medium (separated)
240g Self raising flour
1/2 tsp Salt
150g Soured cream
1 tsp Vanilla extract
150g Peanut butter (smooth)
300g Icing sugar
100ml Single cream (optional)
100g White chocolate (optional)
Handful of Unsalted peanuts (chopped)
2 x 20cm Fixed or push bottom cake tins
2 Large bowls
Electric whisk or hand whisk
1/8 tsp Measure
Disposable piping bag and nozzle (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C (Fan)/350°F/Gas mark 4 and then get on with making the cake!
Cut a piece of baking parchment into two circles for the bases of the cake tins.
Grease the bottom of the tins without the parchment in them using the extra butter.
Line the tins with the parchment and grease the sides and bottom, this time greasing the parchment.
Add 1 tsp of cocoa powder to each tin.
Shake around until the bottom and sides of each tin are coated.
Tap the tins over a sink so any excess cocoa is discarded.
Add 200g of butter and 50ml of milk to the saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir with a spatula until the butter has melted.
Remove the pan from the heat, add 120g of chocolate and keep stirring until it has melted.
Leave to cool in the pan.
Add 150g of sugar and the egg yolks to a large mixing bowl and whisk for approx. 5 minutes until a thick pale yellow.
Add the egg whites to the other large bowl and clean the whisk.
Whisk until foamy before gradually adding the rest of the caster sugar.
Continue whisking until all of the sugar has been added and the whites are firm.
Sieve the flour, 1/8 tsp of salt, and 40g of cocoa together over the wide bowl.
Add the soured cream and vanilla to the melted chocolate, and stir.
Add the chocolate mix to the thick egg mixture and gently stir until combined.
Add 1/3 of the flour mix to the batter and gently fold in.
Add the remaining 2/3s, folding between the addition of each 1/3.
Take 1/3 of the egg whites and add to the mix, stirring gently. This will loosen the mixture up.
Add another 1/3, this time folding into the cake mix.
Repeat this with the remaining third.
Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and pop into the oven on a middle shelf for 25 minutes.
When the cakes have baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 30 minutes.
Tip the cakes upside down onto the wire rack and remove the parchment from the bottoms.
Leave the cakes to cool completely.
Once the cakes have cooled add the remaining 150g of butter and all of the icing sugar to one of the large bowls you used earlier, ensuring it’s clean before use.
Whisk until combined before adding the peanut butter and 1/4 tsp of salt and whisk again.
Add 3 tbsp of milk and give a final whisk.
Give the butter cream a taste, if it’s not salty enough for you add the remaining 1/8 tsp of salt.
You should have a thick yet light butter cream which is suitable for piping. If you think it’s too stiff, add 1 tsp of milk at a time.
When icing the cake you will need to place the first sponge, bottom-side down, as it’s the flattest.
Add 1/3 of the butter cream to the top and spread all over.
Sandwich the second sponge, top-side down, on top of the butter cream.
You now need to decide how to decorate the ice the cake!
Here are a couple of options:
Use the butter cream to fill any gaps around the middle. Then dab bit of icing around the sides. Using a palette knife or dough scraper, drag the icing around the side of the cake, so you’re coating the outside and also are removing excess icing at the same time. You will need to press against the side of the cake as you do this. Repeat with the top of the cake, neatening the edges when you’re finished so they’re crisp and sharp. Spoon the rest of the icing into a piping bag and decorate the top!
Use the butter cream to fill any gaps around the middle. This time generously dab the icing around the sides of the cake. Dab more on top of the cake and spread over so it’s neat and flat. It doesn’t matter if any icing goes over the sides. Use the palette knife to spread the icing around the sides of the cake, however you don’t want to press down too much. Keep the knife vertical so you’re keeping the icing neat and straight. Do this until all of the side has been evenly coated. Check the edges and tidy if required.
If you want to make a white chocolate drip ganache, follow option 1 but wait once you’ve put the remaining butter cream into the piping bag. Clip the end of the bag with a food tie or clip.
Put the cake into the fridge and get on with the ganache.
Pour the single cream into a clean saucepan and place over a medium heat until it starts to steam.
Break the white chocolate up over a bowl, remove the saucepan from the heat, and pour the cream over the chocolate.
Stir the cream and chocolate until you have a smooth ganache.
Leave the ganache to come to room temperature. Stirring it occasionally will speed this up. It should thicken as it cools.
Once the ganache has thickened to a ribbon consistency, which is where it will keep its shape for a few seconds should you take a spoonful and let the ganache fall back into the bowl, you can decorate your cake.
Spoon the ganache over the centre of the cake allowing it to naturally spread outwards over the top. I would recommend you stop just before it reaches the edges as it will continue to spread further.
Once the ganache has covered the top of the cake pour a little more ganache into the middle to encourage it to drip over the sides. You may not need to use all of the ganache to achieve this effect.
Immediately put the cake back into the fridge to set the chocolate. It might be worth placing the cake onto a baking sheet in case the chocolate drips a bit too much.
Once set, decorate the top of the cake with the remaining butter cream and sprinkle over a handful of chopped peanuts.
When you’ve finished it’s best to chill the cake for a bit to let the icing set.