Today is my darling mother’s birthday. And it’s also my birthday. How cool is that? There’s a very low probability that a child will share a birthday with one of his or her parents, so I’m pretty lucky to share this day with her. So far, I’ve had a great day with lots of lovely wishes from friends and family, and tonight I’m headed to dinner with my mom. Happy birthday to us, Mom!
This day of birthdays seemed as good a day as any to share my favorite cake. I love peanut butter and chocolate together. That combination is the best. My friend Heidi knows this, because she made me a chocolate cake with peanut butter icing for my birthday two years ago. She topped it with, like, 17 kinds of chocolate peanut butter candies. (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating. It was only, like, three. Or four.) And it was incredible. Before this cake, I had never considered putting these flavors together in a cake. I’ve been itching to make one ever since I got off the amazing year-long sugar high that Heidi’s cake gave me.
So, I tried to mimic Heidi’s genius by making this cake for a friend’s birthday a while back. I made it again recently for another friend, as cupcakes this time. It works beautifully both ways. It’s so good, you guys. The cake is so rich and decadent, and the frosting — oh, the frosting. It’s to die for. You can go crunchy or creamy with the frosting, too, depending on your preference. If you like chocolate and peanut butter together as much as I do, you’ll love this recipe! The Best Cake Ever Award probably still goes to Heidi, but this recipe comes pretty darn close. Let me know what you think! // susannah
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES
Whoever thought to put chocolate with peanut butter is a genius. The cake in this recipe is easy to make, but you could also substitute a box cake mix in a hurry. The icing is fantastic whether you like crunchy or creamy peanut butter, too!
- Unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pans
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (3 1/2 ounces)
Follow the One Bowl Chocolate Cake instructions, but be sure to gently fold in the chocolate chunks before pouring into the pans. Let cakes cool completely before frosting.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Adapted from the Peanut Butter Frosting recipe in the Vintage Cakes cookbook by Julie Richardson.
Note: Double this recipe if icing a layer cake, but one batch is enough for cupcakes.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (substitute almond extract for nuttier flavor)
- Chocolate peanut butter candies, optional (such as chocolate chips, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, Butterfingers, Reese’s Pieces or Peanut Butter M&M’s)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter on medium speed until smooth.
- Add the confectioner’s sugar, half-and-half and vanilla or almond extract. Continue beating for about 3 minutes, until the frosting light and creamy.
- Use frosting at room temperature. It will keep for up to three days, or it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If refrigerated, it will need to warm up to room temperature and re-whipped before using.
- Frost cake or cupcakes, and garnish with chocolate peanut butter candies.