True to Dennis’s genuine love for all things chocolate and all things peanut butter, we made a chocolate cake with chocolate and peanut butter frosting for his birthday.

Okay, I’m actually using the pronoun “we” here very loosely.  It was more like “he” rather than “we”.  Dennis made his first two-layer chocolate cake from scratch and I was the assistant pastry chef and food stylist.  We used a basic chocolate cake recipe from Alice Waters’s The Art of Simple Food and a chocolate butter icing recipe from The Joy of Cooking.  We tweaked the icing recipe a little to make a decadent chocolate and peanut butter frosting instead.  The chocolate cake recipe is a great versatile recipe that can be used to make cakes in any format from sheet cakes to cupcakes.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe
Recipe adapted from Alice Waters’ the Art of Simple Food and Irma Rombauer’s the Joy of Cooking

For the chocolate cake, makes one 9-inch one-layer or multilayer round cake

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, softened
2-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1-1/4 cups boiling water

For the chocolate and peanut butter frosting, makes two cups of frosting

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F.

Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pan with flour or cocoa, and shake out the excess. Lining the pan with parchment paper makes removing the cake from the pan much easier.

Coarsely chop the unsweetened chocolate.  We used the Venezuelan chocolate El Rey Bucare that has 58.5% cocoa.  Place the coarsely chopped chocolate in a metal bowl and set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. The metal bowl should be big enough so that it sits on top of the pot without touching the water.

Chocolate Cake

Turn off the heat. Stir the chocolate from time to time until completely melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the pot and set aside the melted chocolate.

Chocolate Cake

Sift together the cake flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder.

In a large bowl, beat the softened butter until creamy. Beat the butter either by hand or in a stand mixer. Beat in the brown sugar and vanilla extract. Then beat in the eggs, one egg at a time. When fully blended, stir in the melted chocolate. Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixture and combine. Stir in the buttermilk. Then stir in the rest of the dry ingredients. Gradually pour in the boiling water until completely blended. The batter will have a thin liquid consistency.

Pour the batter equally into the two cake pans and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool completely.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Remove the cake from the pan and peel off the parchment paper. The cooled cake can be kept in the pan and stored if you are not using the cake the same day. Just make sure that it is tightly covered.

The recipe can also be used to make a sheet cake or cupcakes. For a sheet cake, prepare a half-sheet pan as mentioned above. Pour the batter, smooth the top, and bake for about 20 minutes. For cupcakes, bake for about 30 minutes. The recipe makes around 24 individual cupcakes.

Melt the chocolate the same way as previously. Place the coarsely chopped chocolate in a metal bowl and set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat. Add the unsalted butter, stir in the milk and the vanilla extract. Blend by hand or use a stand mixer. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth and spreadable. Add the peanut butter and mix until well blended.

Add more sugar, if needed, to thicken the consistency. According to the Joy of Kitchen, confectioners’s sugar icings tend to thicken on its own if left undisturbed for a few minutes. Also, it thickens if stirred over a bowl of ice water. Add more peanut butter if you prefer a more peanut buttery taste.

Make the icing just before using.

Place the first layer on a cake pedestal. Using a carving knife, trim the top of the first layer to make it flat.

Evenly spread a generous layer of the icing on top of the cake using a metal spatula. Then place the second layer on top of the frosting.

Chocolate Cake

Generously coat the cake with the frosting using a metal spatula. The recipe for the frosting makes 2 cups, which we found to be just enough for a two-layer 9-inch cake.  If you prefer a cake more lavishly coated with frosting, adjust the ingredients proportionally to yield more.

The cake was amazing.  Rich and moist.  Dennis’s birthday, too was equally amazing.  Sweet sixteen. :-)

Chocolate Cake

  • Pia

    SUPER YUMMY! Happy sweet sixteenth birthday to Dennis! :)

  • Iya Santos

    wow. sana may magbake din ng ganyan for me sa birthday ko!!!

  • Jun Belen

    Jon Rockman
    This looks AMAZING. I got so excited by this recipe that I had to try it immediately. They’re in the oven right now — will let you know how it turns out!
    April 16 at 9:29pm

    Jun-Blog and Jun Belen Photography
    Let me know! It’s really really rich and moist.
    April 17 at 7:55am

    Jon Rockman
    Disappointment. I think I undercooked it, because the edges are the only edible part. I like moist but this is like eating a stick of butter. Also the flavor is … odd. I’ll try again with a different chocolate and a few more minutes in the oven.
    April 18 at 6:41pm

    Jun-Blog and Jun Belen Photography
    I actually baked it longer than Keller recommended and since I used a glass baking dish instead of a silicone pan, the edges turned out to be more done than the center and so I trimmed the edges before serving them. Did you use a silicone pan? The brownie is rich but not too sweet. I used 58% cocoa, what did you use?
    April 18 at 8:40pm

    Jon Rockman
    Metal pan–I should buy a silicone one, or even glass would be better. I had some leftover 70% cocoa and used some of that, but the bulk of the chocolate was 60% cocoa. I tend to prefer darker, more bitter chocolate, so I thought it would be ok. I think the odd taste was from mostly from being underdone. Also my powder wasn’t alkalized; where do you find that?
    April 18 at 9:26pm

    Jon Rockman
    Great success! Silicone pan, 60% cocoa, Dutch cocoa (previous attempt was not), and 5 extra minutes in the oven. The scientist in me is sad that I don’t know which of those changes mad the difference, but the chocoholic in me doesn’t care.
    Sun at 8:54am

    Jun-Blog and Jun Belen Photography
    So glad it turned out great this time!! I bet you it’s the silicone pan, which gives me an idea for an experiment at home. By the way, where did you get the alkalized cocoa powder? I actually used regular cocoa powder I got from Whole Foods and it turned out good. I really think the silicone pan made a huge difference!
    Sun at 11:12am

    Jon Rockman
    I got the alkalized cocoa powder at Harvest Ranch on Market. I might try going back to regular next time because the Belgian is super expensive.
    Sun at 12:33pm

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  • abraham

    looks delicious. i must try it ….susan

  • Linn @ Swedish Home Cooking

    Wow, everything that I like squeezed into one cake. I would not say no to a slice of this one!

  • Chef Dennis

    Now that is a beautiful cake!!! my name is Dennis and my birthday is coming up!!!!! Congratulation on the top 9 of food buzz today!

  • Jun Belen

    Thanks, Chef for stopping by! We made the chocolate cake again for a dinner party last Saturday and it was really really good! Happy Birthday, in advance!

  • Pam @ Stick Forks Fingers

    Congratulations on your Top 9 Foodbuzz post! You say all the right words here… Chocolate. Cake. Peanut butter. Frosting. Mmmmmmmm!

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you, Pam for stopping by! The cake was AMAZING!

  • Michel Whelchel

    Hello, I tried this cake recipe some days ago but somehow couldn’t get the same result as you, my cake clearly wasn’t looking that good (but tasted fine). What kind of chocolate do you use? Maybe it’s because of the flour I used, i’m gluten intelorant so I used Rice flour instead of usual wheat flour.

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