Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

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Rich, decadent chocolate cake layers with peanut butter frosting drizzled in chocolate ganache and topped with Reese’s peanut butter cups – this cake is the ultimate indulgence and looks gourmet – but is easy to make with common ingredients!

chocolate cake layered with ganache, peanut butter frosting, and peanut butter cups on top on a white plate
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chocolate cake layered with ganache, peanut butter frosting, and peanut butter cups on top on a white plate

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake

Get ready to dive into a world of irresistible indulgence with the delectable creation known as the Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake. This dessert masterpiece is a dream come true for all the chocoholics and peanut butter aficionados out there. Imagine layers of moist, cocoa-infused cake intermingled with luxurious waves of creamy peanut butter frosting. It’s a sweet symphony of flavors that’ll leave you utterly enchanted.

The cake layers themselves are a celebration of chocolate perfection. With a rich cocoa powder base, these layers boast a deep, decadent flavor that’s perfectly balanced with just the right touch of sweetness. But here’s where the magic happens: enter the peanut butter frosting. This luscious creation is a harmonious blend of butter and peanut butter, resulting in a velvety, nutty delight that complements the chocolate layers in the most heavenly way.

But hold onto your forks, because this cake doesn’t stop there. A silky drizzle of chocolate ganache cascades down the sides, adding an extra layer of luxury. And the pièce de résistance? A crown of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on top, both a visual treat and a delightful surprise for your taste buds.

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply craving an indulgent treat, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake is a journey into the heart of dessert bliss. Each forkful is a fusion of textures and tastes that dance together in perfect harmony. So go ahead, slice into this cake of dreams and savor every moment of pure decadence. Your taste buds will thank you, and your sweet tooth will declare victory!

chocolate cake layered with ganache, peanut butter frosting, and peanut butter cups on top on a white plate

How to Make Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

To make this recipe, we will need the following ingredients:

Chocolate Cake:

  • All-Purpose Flour (2 2/3 cups): This forms the foundation of the cake. Flour provides structure and stability to ensure the cake holds together while maintaining a tender crumb.
  • Cocoa Powder (1 cup): The cocoa powder is the chocolaty heart of the cake, infusing it with rich, deep chocolate flavor.
  • Baking Powder (1 tablespoon): Baking powder is the leavening agent that gives the cake its rise and airy texture.
  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon): A touch of salt enhances the overall flavor and balances the sweetness.
  • Butter and Vegetable Oil (1/2 cup each): The combination of butter and oil adds moisture and richness to the cake. Butter contributes flavor, while oil ensures a moist crumb.
  • Granulated Sugar (1 1/2 cups): Sugar sweetens the cake, but it also plays a role in tenderizing and providing structure.
  • Large Eggs (4): Eggs bind the ingredients together and provide structure. They also contribute to the cake’s moisture and texture.
  • Milk (1 1/4 cups): Milk adds liquid to the batter, ensuring the cake is soft and not overly dense.

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • Unsalted Butter (1 1/2 cups): Butter creates the base of the frosting, offering a creamy and rich texture.
  • Peanut Butter (3/4 cup): Peanut butter introduces its nutty and indulgent personality to the frosting, providing a flavor contrast to the chocolate.
  • Powdered Sugar (4 cups): Powdered sugar sweetens and thickens the frosting, giving it a smooth and spreadable consistency.

Chocolate Ganache:

  • Milk Chocolate Chips (1 cup): These chocolate chips are melted down to form the luscious ganache topping, adding a layer of decadent chocolate flavor.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream (1/3 cup): Heavy cream creates the velvety consistency of the ganache, making it luxurious and pourable.
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (5): These iconic peanut butter cups are the show-stopping finishing touch, adding both visual appeal and a delightful peanut butter-chocolate surprise.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

For the cake
Preheat the oven to 350° F. prepare 4, 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt with a whisk. Set aside.
In a separate large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, oil, and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, mix until combined.
Add the dry mixture, alternating with the milk until completely combined.
Divide the batter evenly into the 4 cake pans and spread into an even layer with a spatula.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool completely while making the frosting.

For the frosting

In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the softened butter and peanut butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar until completely combined.

For the chocolate ganache

Add the chocolate chips to a heat proof bowl.
In a separate bowl, microwave the heavy cream until it begins to boil.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and allow to sit for a few minutes to melt the chocolate. Mix until smooth and combined.
Allow the ganache to cool for at least 10 minutes before using.

To assemble

Use a large serrated knife to level the cakes and create an even surface. Stack the cakes with a layer of frosting between each cake layer. Use a large icing spatula to spread a thin even layer of frosting on top of and around the cake to create a crumb coat. Place the cake in the freezer for at least 15 minutes to set the crumb coat. Frost the entire cake with the remaining frosting.

Pour the ganache over the top of the cake and spread into an even layer, allow some ganache to drip down the sides. You can use a squeeze bottle or piping bag to get a cleaner drip.
If desired, you can decorate with extra frosting and Reese’s peanut butter cups. Slice and enjoy!

chocolate cake layered with ganache, peanut butter frosting, and peanut butter cups on top on a white plate

Tips and Tricks to Perfect Peanut Butter Chocolate Layer Cake

Measure Ingredients Accurately: Baking is a science, so accurate measurements are crucial. Use dry measuring cups for dry ingredients and liquid measuring cups for wet ingredients.

Use Quality Ingredients: High-quality cocoa powder, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and other ingredients will elevate the overall flavor of the cake.

Preheat the Oven: Make sure your oven is properly preheated before placing the cake pans inside. This ensures even baking.

Prepare Cake Pans: Grease and line your cake pans with parchment paper to prevent sticking and ensure easy release.

Avoid Overmixing: Mix the cake batter just until the ingredients are combined. Overmixing can lead to a dense cake.

Room Temperature Ingredients: Use room temperature eggs, butter, and milk for the cake batter. This helps in achieving a uniform texture.

Alternate Dry and Wet Ingredients: When adding the dry ingredients and milk to the batter, alternate between the two. This helps in even mixing and prevents overmixing.

Evenly Divide Batter: To ensure even layers, divide the cake batter equally among the prepared pans. Use a kitchen scale for accuracy.

Check Doneness: Use a toothpick or cake tester to check if the cake layers are done. They should come out with a few crumbs attached, not wet batter.

Cool Completely: Let the cake layers cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Warm layers can be delicate and may break.

Level the Layers: Once the cake layers are cool, level the tops if needed using a serrated knife or cake leveler. This ensures even stacking.

Frost with a Crumb Coat: Apply a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) to seal in any loose crumbs. Chill the cake for about 30 minutes before applying the final layer of frosting.

Refrigerate Between Layers: After frosting each layer, refrigerate the cake for a short time. This helps the layers set and makes frosting easier.

Smooth Frosting: Use an offset spatula to smooth the frosting evenly around the cake layers.

Chill Before Adding Ganache: Before adding the chocolate ganache, make sure the frosting is firm and set. This prevents the ganache from sinking into the frosting.

Ganache Consistency: For the ganache, make sure it’s not too hot or too cold when pouring it over the cake. A slightly warm ganache will create a smooth and glossy finish.

Let the Cake Set: After adding the ganache, allow the cake to set in the refrigerator for a bit before serving. This will help the ganache firm up.

Garnish: Decorate the cake with additional peanut butter cups, chocolate shavings, or a drizzle of melted peanut butter for an extra touch of decadence.

chocolate cake layered with ganache, peanut butter frosting, and peanut butter cups on top on a white plate

FAQs

Can I use natural peanut butter in the icing?

While you can use natural peanut butter, keep in mind that it may have a different texture and consistency due to the absence of stabilizers. It could affect the final texture of the frosting.

Can I use a different type of chocolate for the ganache?

Absolutely! You can experiment with different types of chocolate, such as dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, for the ganache. Keep in mind that the flavor and sweetness may vary.

Can I make this cake in advance?

Yes, you can make the cake layers in advance and freeze them. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight container before freezing. Thaw them in the refrigerator before assembling and decorating.

Can I use a different frosting instead of peanut butter?

Of course! While peanut butter frosting complements the chocolate cake well, you can use other frostings like chocolate ganache, cream cheese frosting, or vanilla buttercream if you prefer.

Can I substitute gluten free flour?

Yes, you can use a gluten-free flour blend in the chocolate cake recipe. Make sure it’s a 1:1 substitute for all-purpose flour and follow any additional instructions provided on the flour packaging.

Can I add other mix-ins to the cake batter?

Absolutely! You can add chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or even crushed peanut butter cups to the cake batter for extra flavor and texture.

How do I store the cake?

Store the assembled cake in the refrigerator due to the frosting and ganache. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap or place it in a cake carrier to prevent drying out.

Can I make cupcakes instead of a layer cake?

Definitely! The cake batter can be used to make cupcakes. Adjust the baking time accordingly, usually around 18-20 minutes for standard-sized cupcakes.

Can I use store-bought frosting instead of using peanut butter frosting?

Yes, you can use store-bought frosting if you’re short on time. Choose a peanut butter-flavored frosting for a similar taste.

Can I omit the peanut butter cups in the frosting?

Absolutely! The peanut butter cups are optional and can be omitted if you prefer. You can decorate the cake with other chocolate decorations or simply leave it as is.

chocolate cake layered with ganache, peanut butter frosting, and peanut butter cups on top on a white plate

What to Serve With Peanut Butter Chocolate Layer Cake

Coffee or Espresso: A cup of freshly brewed coffee or a shot of espresso is a classic pairing with chocolate desserts. The bitterness of the coffee balances the sweetness of the cake and enhances its flavors. We love a cardamom coffee or Greek Frappe!

Milk: For a nostalgic and comforting pairing, a cold glass of milk can’t be beat. The creamy texture and slightly sweet taste of milk provide a wonderful contrast to the cake.

Vanilla Ice Cream: The cool creaminess of vanilla ice cream adds a delightful contrast to the warm cake. The combination of textures and flavors is simply heavenly.

Whipped Cream: A dollop of freshly whipped cream is a light and airy companion to the rich cake. You can even sprinkle a touch of cocoa powder or chocolate shavings on top.

Berries: Fresh berries like strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries provide a burst of fruity freshness that pairs well with the richness of the cake. They add a pop of color and balance out the sweetness.

Nutty Snacks: Since the cake features peanut butter, consider offering a bowl of assorted nuts like roasted peanuts, almonds, or cashews for a crunchy contrast.

Port Wine or Dessert Wine: If you’re feeling a bit more indulgent, a glass of port wine or a dessert wine can be a luxurious pairing. Their rich, fruity notes complement the chocolate and peanut butter flavors.

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate: Take your cocoa to the next level by making a peanut butter-infused hot chocolate or peanut butter hot chocolate bombs! It’s like a warm hug for your taste buds!

Salted Caramel Sauce: A drizzle of salted caramel sauce on the cake or alongside it can elevate the flavors and provide a harmonious balance between sweet and salty.

Toasted Marshmallows: Channel the s’mores vibes and toast some marshmallows for a playful and gooey addition that’s reminiscent of campfires.

Nutella Spread: For an extra layer of chocolatey goodness, offer a side of Nutella or a similar chocolate spread.

chocolate cake layered with ganache, peanut butter frosting, and peanut butter cups on top on a white plate

Peanut Butter Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

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chocolate cake layered with ganache, peanut butter frosting, and peanut butter cups on top on a white plate
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Peanut Butter Chocolate Layer Cake

Easy, moist chocolate layer cake topped with peanut butter frosting, chocolate ganache, and peanut butter cups.
Course cakes
Cuisine American
Keyword baking, cake, chocolate, layer cake, peanut butter
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 8 slices
Calories 524kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

Chocolate cake

Peanut butter frosting

  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter softened 3/4 cups peanut butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • Chocolate ganache/ topping
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • cup heavy whipping cream 5 reese’s peanut butter cups

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. prepare 4, 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt with a whisk. Set aside.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, oil, and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, mix until combined.
  • Add the dry mixture, alternating with the milk until completely combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the 4 cake pans and spread into an even layer with a spatula.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool completely while making the frosting.
  • For the frosting: In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the softened butter and peanut butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar until completely combined.
  • For the chocolate ganache: Add the chocolate chips to a heat proof bowl.
    In a separate bowl, microwave the heavy cream until it begins to boil.
  • Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and allow to sit for a few minutes to melt the chocolate. Mix until smooth and combined.
  • Allow the ganache to cool for at least 10 minutes before using.
  • Assemble: Use a large serrated knife to level the cakes and create an even surface. Stack the cakes with a layer of frosting between each cake layer. Use a large icing spatula to spread a thin even layer of frosting on top of and around the cake to create a crumb coat. Place the cake in the freezer for at least 15 minutes to set the crumb coat. Frost the entire cake with the remaining frosting.
  • Pour the ganache over the top of the cake and spread into an even layer, allow some ganache to drip down the sides. You can use a squeeze bottle or piping bag to get a cleaner drip.
  • If desired, you can decorate with extra frosting and reese’s peanut butter cups. Slice and enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 524kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 89g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 41g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 120mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 62g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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2 Comments

  1. I made this cake for my husband’s birthday this past weekend. It was so moist and delicious. I decorated my cake just as the recipe photo but added Reese’s Peices in with the chopped peanutbutter cups on top and Reese’s peices around the side. I also added a shell border around the bottom edge. I wish I could upload a photo to share as I’m so proud of this cake.

    1. Are you on any social media? Tag us @sweetcsdesigns – I really want to see it!!! I am so so glad it was delicious for you – hope your husband had an excellent birthday!