chocolate peanut butter cake

Chocolate Cake with PB Cream Cheese Frosting & Ganache

So before you roll your eyes and go, didn’t you just tell us you were going to take a break from sweets, I will tell you that Slashfood already (rightly!) chided me and I owe them and you an explanation and an apology. I am sorry to pull you away from tofu and brown rice and egg white. I am. But this was for a birthday, and was shared by about 30 people, so we all had the smallest of the pieces, and, most importantly, I have been meaning to make this for nearly half a year – so it’s kind of retroactive, in a way.

chocolate cake mixcake mise

To say this cake has been long time in the making, would be a terrible understatement. It’s been five months in the making and if you think I’m exaggerating let’s go down the timeline. When I moved into my new neighborhood in mid-August, my lovely new neighbors met me for dinner at this stunner of a place and presented me with a housewarming gift that made my heart skip many a beat – the cake book I’ve been lusting after for what seems like forever after seeing a few of its creations.


Immediately I read the preface and bought all the necessary baking tools that would enable me to start making celebration cakes and then emailed my friends with offers to bake dessert for any and each occasion. But every time someone’s birthday or gathering came up and I would offer up a cake – there was either not much enthusiasm for it or the situation couldn’t really accommodate. Last month I all but baked a cake for a friend’s birthday but the venue where we held it was going to charge us such an inappropriate fee for it, I backed out. And so finally, when my lovely friend Kate was having a birthday party last weekend, and I asked her if I could bake her a cake, her answer was a resounding YES.

peanut butter cream cheese frostingfrosting the cake

I had this cake in mind all along, what with the most perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter, this was the cake I was most curious to make, but Kate had to approve the flavors – after all, it was her birthday. While not a huge chocolate person, she did like chocolate cake and the peanut butter frosting sounded too good to pass up. It was finally going to happen.

frosting the cake

Deb, on her site, mentions that if you like baking cakes, especially celebration ones – you need to get this book. I cannot agree with her more. The recipes are very doable and have clear instructions; the pictures are stunning; and the variety of unusual flavors makes this for a not-your-average-cake-book experience. It’s probably my favorite cook book at this moment, perhaps because I have a few cakes in the queue that will need to be made fairly soon.

melting the ingredients for the ganacheChocolate Cake with PB Cream Cheese Frosting & Ganache
Chocolate Cake with PB Cream Cheese Frosting & GanacheChocolate Cake with PB Cream Cheese Frosting & Ganache

Oh and since this cake is one-bowl only (for the batter – you will need another bowl to make the frosting) – it’s really really easy. You might not even need a preset mise because things just go in chronological order and voila – batter is made! I like having a mise, because I’m a little OCD about certain things and I like the look of it. But if you’re like me and lack a dishwasher (and loathe doing dishes) – the one bowl aspect of it is very valuable, don’t you think? And while this cake is quite intense and you’ll want the thinnest of slivers on your plate (because a huge piece just might send you into a permanent chocolate and peanut butter coma) it’s hardly fitting for my New Year’s resolve of healthier food. Just think of the hand mixing as a small workout for your forearm and tricep – which cancels out the calories consumed by a slice of this. Or so I’d like to believe.

that went well with some milk

More peanut butter and chocolate love: Crispy Peanut Butter Bars

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Sky High Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes

Cake Batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (skipped this)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake-pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely.(1)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.(2)

5. To decorate with the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.(3) Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle (optional).

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (4)
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time5, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Radish Notes:
1. I found these cakes very soft and so after letting them cool on cooling racks, I stuck them in the freezer for 30 minutes, which made frosting much, much easier. I would recommend that you do this as well.

2. To have a beautiful coat of frosting, I recommend doing a crumb coat first. A crumb coat is a very thin layer of frosting that binds the crumbs to the frosting – after which you chill the cake (about 30 minutes) and the use the remaining frosting to create a smooth, crumb-free, pretty coat! Also, while we’re on the subject of chilling, once you finish frosting your cake, chill it again for another 30 minutes (I know, I know a lot of fridge time) because it’ll make your ganache set faster and you’ll have a prettier effect of the drip).

3. I prefer this cake on the slightly chilled side – so I would only wait about 30 minutes, not 1 hour. Also, it all depends on what time of year you make this – I would have this straight from the fridge in the summer.

4. I used about 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar because the idea of 5 cups was making me dizzy – I’m very glad I did. However, I would up the cream cheese a bit and add a bit more butter. So maybe 12 oz of cream cheese, 1 tbsp butter and 3 cups confectioners’ sugar – I barely had enough frosting for the cake, and it’s not because I kept “tasting” it to get it just right.

5. I added in ¼ cup increments – I like the result better.

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake; serves 12 to 16 (or so the book tells you, we fed nearly 25 people with it)


  • Amy

    Holy moly – what an incredible cake!!! I love the top pic, with the chocolate seductively oooooozing down the side of the frosting. YUM.

  • radish

    Adrienne, nicely done!
    Helene – thank you very much – I hope you come back!
    David – it was HUGE – but there wasn’t a crumb left after we were done with it.

  • Kylie

    After seeing this cake beautifully baked and photographed on both your and Deb’s blogs, I’m just going to have to attempt it. This seems like the most superb cake to celebrate a chocolate/peanut butter lover’s birthday. Lovely.

  • Lory

    Made the cake today for my son-in-law’s birthday. It was actually pretty easy to make and just as good as it looks. I did add semisweet mini chocolate chips to the cakes while in the oven about 10 minutes, sprinkled on top, so they kinda melted in. D-Lish. Next I’m gonna try the Cola Cake. I found Sassy Radish while looking for a Peanut Butter/Chocolate cake for his birthday.

  • Dawn

    I made the Chocolate Peanut Butter cake for my office staff today. They all LOVED it! (I try a new cake for everyones birthday throughout the year) This is now my all-time favorite cake!!!!! I’m sure i will have many requests for this.!

  • radish

    Kim, I can certainly give it a go sometime – not sure when though. By the looks of it (i read the recipe through) it looks pretty easy and manageable. If you like the orange marmalade (as I’m not a huge huge fan) – you should give it a whirl sooner rather than later. As my friends tend to like cakes involving chocolate, chocolate, and oh, more chocolate, my repertoire might be fixed for a bit. It does look like a lovely summer cake, however, so maybe when it warms up, finally.

  • Lory

    Made this cake for the second time for a friend’s birthday. I think that it is my all time favorite cake…’s huge….it’s moist….it’s fabulous and oh so easy. I may never get to the Cola Cake. Thanks Sassy Radish!! PS. I used Smart Balance peanut butter.

  • Nora

    I made this cake for a party and everyone LOVED it. The cake was SUPER moist and the frosting and glaze were so delicious I could (and did) eat them by the spoonful! Both my family and my friends said this was the best cake they’ve ever had! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  • Bennett

    Hello, I copied this cake to made for a nephew for mine, and would like to know about about a couple of things. Why do you use water in the batter, instead of say buttermilk? And second if you use three 9 inch baking pans what will that do? Please answer ASAP as they want me to have this cake ready by the weekend of the 10th for a birthday party. I will read this every day to see if you have written me any asnwers, and or given me any other information.
    Thank you very much,

  • radish

    Hi Bennett, i followed the recipe to a t from the book I reference in my recipe, which is why I used water and not buttermilk – that’s what the instructions had. As far as your different size pans go, I didn’t use 9 inch so I can’t be certain as to the result – perhaps a shorter cake, perhaps shorter baking time? I only made this once, so not sure how the results will vary. Good luck.

  • Bennett

    Hello Radish,
    While I used to bake a lot before, I have slowed down somewhat now. I do have a few concerns about this recipe. As I said with regard to the water, and as for the pan size, if anything it would make for just a few minutes shorter baking time, but as I have both 9 and 8 inch pans, either will do. Tonight when looking over the recipe once more, to make sure I had everything needed on my baking shelves, I saw that it also called for 2 TABLEspoons of white vinegar. This left me with a doubt, and I came back onto the computer to see if I had misread it. So if possible, if you would be so kind to check if it is 2 Tablespoons, or 2 teaspoons I would appreciate it. To be honest, as I am not a chocolate cake eater, and with all the years of baking, I have made very, very few chocolate cakes. My niece’s future husband, asked me to make a chocolate, peanutbutter cake for his birthday, which is being held this coming
    Saturday, and while I told him I would look, and then found this recipe, I am still up in the air with it. He has been very happy with my peanutbutter brownies, as well as my regular brownies, and has requested them over and over. To be honest, I could not say if they are good, bad or what, as I have never been a brownie eater. But those that eat them all have great things to say, even my sister, whom we all know how sisters can be. My youngest grandchild who will also be having her party the same day, as these two are 2 days apart, is a true chocolate eater, and the darker the chocolate, the better. Anyway yesterday I did show her the cake on the computer, and she can’t wait. OH! By the way did this recipe come from a Southern cook book, as they usually never tell you to use soft white flour, which I do use, when making the true Southern Red Velvet Cake? If you could please let me know ASAP as I was planning to baking late Thursday night, and or early Friday since I want to refrigerate the cake, as well as the filling, frosting, leaving only the topping for late Friday. I do thank you so very much, and I do hope the cake is a big hit. I will let you know the end results. Take care, Bennett

  • radish

    Hello Bennett, I would recommend checking against the book at your local Barnes and Noble. I am currently moving and everything, including cookbooks. The Baked bakery is located in Brooklyn, NY. Every oven, kitchen, etc is different. I only made the cake once and I shared my thoughts/experience here. All the best of luck to you in your baking.

  • radish

    Sorry, that was supposed to say that everything, including cookbooks is currently packed away in boxes.

  • Bennett

    Radish, Good luck to you with your move. I have given my final thoughts on this cake, and have decided to go with it, just as is. I was planning to stopping by the book store tomorrow to check out the last couple of things, and make it tomorrow night. I already put out most of the items I will need for it, and the one thing I want to get in is the white Karo, as I do need that. I know I am pushing this, but I also have another cake to made for the same party, a giant cupcake, and as one little boy has an aleregy to peanuts, I have to make sure that everything uses, has never had peanuts baked in it, as well as makeing sure that nothing even so much as came into contact with anything in the peanut line. I do think the pressure of no peanuts is makeing me a little nuts as it did the first two times this child was invited to the parties, and being just a little guy, he don’t understand what nor why he can’t have certain things. But I am sure as soon as the cake is in the over, things will be fine. I do want to thank you and I also hope the cake comes out as well as the photos on the web. I will let you know what the crowd has to say about it, and please keep in mind those that like chocolate are my family, and they never keep their feeling to themselves. Once again Thank You and do take care. Bennett

  • Bennett

    Sorry about not posting this before, but have been fighting this illness. Anyway the cake and everything about and or with it was made and served on the 12th of July, and those that eat it, enjoyed it to the fullest. I do hope they all told the truth, but the two I was mostly worried about my grandchild, and my nephew, both eat their entire slice, and both said it was great. My nephew said it was like eating a peanut butter Easter egg, with the chocolate cake as a treat. Therefore I will be making this cake again, but have decided it is a cake for the colder months, as it is very rich.
    Hope all is going well with your move. Thanks again, and take care. Bennett

  • Elizabeth

    I made this cake for my best friends birthday a few months ago. While it certainly wasn’t as pretty as yours, it was absolutely divine. The cream cheese-peanut butter frosting is out of this world, and I’ve tried my fair share of peanut butter frostings. I love your blog, thank you for sharing your recipes and stories with us!

  • Vicki

    Ahh! The cake! The cake! A dear friend is a chocolate peanut butter lover so there was the interest. I loved making and everyone one loved eating this beauty. I’ve never worked with a batter quite so liquidy, but the outcome proved the recipe quite nicely. I’ll make it again and that fantastic cream cheese peanut butter frosting (yes cut to 3 cups sugar and up to 12 oz. cream cheese) will likely appear on many other cakes in the future. Ahh! The cake!

  • Candace

    I made this cake for my husband’s birthday in September and everyone loved it! People still talk about how yummy it was. The batter was a little thin so I was concerned how it would turn out…but turns out it was the moistest cake I’ve ever made. DELICIOUS!

  • christine

    I make this cake into cupcakes and didnt make the glaze. I added about twice the amount of peanut butter because the frosting tasted to much like cream cheese and not enough like peanut butter. they were amazing, I had people at the party literally hugging me! I put a peanut M&M on each one to add some fun.

  • Jen S.

    I made this tonight, as written originally, and was possibly the most beautiful, and one of the tastiest, cakes I’ve ever made. The birthday girl swooned.

  • Emma

    hi radish!
    i made this cake last week and absolutely loved it. i’m making it again today for my grandfather’s birthday but he’s not a huge fan of peanut butter and i wanted to try another frosting. the cake itself is so delicious and moist! do you have any suggestions for what else might be good??

  • Lori

    I found this recipe four years ago and every year since then my daughter asks (demands) that I make it for her birthday. Her friends who get to eat it once a year talk about it throughout the year and tell everyone that I make the best cake they have ever had! High praise indeed from teenagers! Thank you for this great recipe!

  • olga

    Lori – you are very welcome. I was inspired when Deb of Smitten Kitchen made it and the book that it came from was a housewarming gift from her. It is a lovely recipe and I return to it over and over.

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