So, this week, both new recipes are desserts, and both new recipes involve peanut butter. Not sure why it happened that way this week, I just had one heck of a sweet tooth, and these two desserts just looked WAY too good to pass up. Both are courtesy of one of my two favorite food websites, www.smittenkitchen.com. (The other being the food queen herself, Ree Drummond of www.thepioneerwoman.com).
The first is a chocolate cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting, and a chocolate peanut butter ganache that was TO DIE FOR. I mean, seriously, I could make buckets of this stuff, and eat it right out of the bowl. Heck, who needs a spoon? I'm not above sticking my face down in there, and licking it right from the bowl. Don't tell anyone, though please warn me if I have some on my nose. Seriously, if you make nothing else on this blog, MAKE THIS GANACHE. Spoon it over ice cream, put it on cupcakes, or brownies, or cheesecake, or a spoon, your lover, whatever floats your boat. It is DELICIOUS. I tried this recipe on The Family, and rave reviews followed. Nick, our resident ganache expert had two pieces. Without making cake soup by drenching it in milk. Which speaks VOLUMES for its deliciousness.
I must admit that I did not try the "from scratch" cake recipe on her website. Not because I'm lazy, or because I have MOUNTAINS of microbiology homework to do, only because I forgot the sour cream at the store. Am I the only one on the face of this planet who can go to the store with a detailed, organized list, and come home missing at least one item each and EVERY time I go to the grocery store? It's like a curse. Tell me I'm not alone. Anyway, I used a boxed, swiss chocolate cake from Duncan Hines, and the cake was still delicious. The cake is really just a vehicle for the frosting, and ganache, anyway. And even though I didn't make the from scratch version on her website, I know it's delicious, just the same way you know that your favorite Coach bag will always make you smile, or the same way you know that your little boy will have to go potty right AFTER you pass the last rest stop for 39 miles (or is that just my little man.) It just is. Trust me.
Now, her cake is MUCH more beautiful than mine. What can I say, I didn't level the cake correctly. Not because I'm lazy (again with the lazy, geez, give it a rest, would ya?), but because I happen to like the look of a nice, rounded top cake. Kind of homey, and old fashioned. And nothing speaks to a Southern girl like all things homey, and old fashioned. Unfortunately, this made my cake look a little lopsided, and allowed the ganache to run down the sides in a very uneven fashion. But, we have a saying in The Family about our Pampered Chef stoneware pans that fits pretty well in this situation, "the worse it looks, the better it cooks." Because let me tell you, all that extra ganache does beautiful, and magical things inside of your mouth. You won't even remember what the cake looked like anyway, because by the time you blink, it will all be gone.
I served this at the family Memorial Day BBQ, alongside these adorable red, white, and blue cupcakes that my son, Landon decorated. I think he has an eye for this already, don't you?
**Also important to note, that while it sounds, fancy, and inherently difficult, the ganache was a BREEZE to whip up. Probably the easiest thing I've ever made, and the most delicious, as well. So, don't be intimidated by it, it's not hard, at all.**
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake a la Smitten Kitchen
-I have to say that this name just doesn't do this cake justice. It should be something like "The most delicious, peanut butter chocolate ganache explosion you've every put in your mouth," but that just wouldn't fit very well on the recipe card, now would it?
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
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. 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. (Deb note: These cakes are very, very soft. I found them 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.)
4. To 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. (Deb note 1: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Deb note 2: Once the cake is fully frosting, 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.)
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.
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, 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 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.
2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half
1. In the top of d 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
Here is the link to smittenkitchen's webpage, where you will find much more beautiful photography, and more expert advice than I could ever give!