“The best gifts come from the heart”
This “gift cake” was made for Rich’s mother for her birthday. I knew she loved Chocolate & Peanut Butter so when I came across this cake – I knew I had found the winner!
And then when I started to think about cakes, I realized that I have never made a layer cake (besides mini ones) before in my life – so making this present was a good lesson for me as well. Rich photographed the whole process & all pictures in this post are courtesy of Alborn Photography, (you can visit him on Facebook, NJ Wedding Photographer too)!
“It’s the thought that counts”
The road of life takes us where it wants to. AND, that unfortunately meant that this time the road was not to celebrate with this cake this weekend… You see we had to travel from Pennsylvania to Delaware to celebrate and along the way we took the turnpike. Well, on the PA Turnpike there was a deer who was out for a late afternoon frolic and after he high-jumped the median his head & body made contact with the front of our car! This being said: the poor guy’s frolicking days are over, we have a banged up car, broken radiator, trip in the tow truck, amazing friends who picked us up, & no birthday celebration (yet) with Rich’s mom! Although: when you think deer + car you think major damage & this guys somehow managed to keep the car (and us, most importantly) almost un-harmed (although after the insurance & dealership check out the car & give us a total we will see exactly how much damage was done).
BUT, we had this amazing cake (which somehow survived the deer incident & tow truck) that was going to go to waste if we didn’t enjoy it. Enter said friends and amazing neighbors: all who would (and do) do anything for us. We decided to share this cake with them and invited them over to sing & email happy birthday to Rich’s Mom, and thank them for everything they do for us all the time. THANK YOU to our wonderful friends & family (and there are currently huge chunks, like about 1/2 a cake) in the freezer to share with Rich’s parents when we see them and my folks when they return home)!
Cake + Life = Adventure!
Recipe as found on Sugar Cooking, another Teacher-Chef!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup neutral vegetable oil
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
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.
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.
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. *(Note from recipe originator Deb: These cakes are very, very soft. They are a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)
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
- 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
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 time, 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. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
FROST THE CAKE: place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup 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. Once the cake is fully frosted, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
- 6 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
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. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.
DECORATE using the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze: 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. Decorate the top with chopped peanuts OR pretzels in today’s salty alternative version. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.
Enjoy the road of life & wear your seatbelt!