Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Heart Attack

You wouldn't know it, but I've been baking a fair bit recently. And according to Sister Bird, making food she can't eat. Not because it's bad. Some of the food she has legitimate reasons for never wanting to eat. Like the habanero spiced potatoes. I was the only person in the family who could handle the amount of heat in them, but I didn't like them enough to write up a post about them. Making something I haven' liked enough to share has been happening a fair bit, aside from the incredible response the jam muffins got.

On an unrelated note, am I the only one who uses jam and jelly interchangeably? I know, one is chunky, one isn't, but really?

But as I was saying... I have an enormous backlog of things to post about. Two more muffin recipes, stuffed zucchini, jalapeno cheddar cornbread, chicken and cannelinni soup, hummus, sloppy joes.... I've stored up plenty of pictures and thoughts, but I'm just slow about typing them out. I liked all of those things, but I don't think any inspired me to immediately share them with the world.

This cake, on the other hand, needed someone to write a public service announcement about it.

I wanted to make it for Papa Bird for Father's Day, because I know he has a soft spot for chocolate and peanut butter, and I've currently got a soft spot for any cake that'd let me practice with my leveler. So when I looked in my crazy collection of recipes and saw Smitten Kitchen's chocolate peanut butter cake, with three glorious layers, I knew it was a match made in heaven.

After I did the nutrition information for it? It was still a great match. But it certainly wasn't made in heaven.

One of the great things about this cake is that it was a one bowl recipe. Obviously, the frosting and the ganache were done in separate bowls. But the cake batter itself was whipped up in one bowl. Which, by the way, I did without the aid of Mama Bird's Kitchen-Aid mixer. I've been slowly shifting away from using mixers, and back to beating things by hand. It's easier to fold things like delicate berries into batter without breaking them, and it's easier to ensure that every part of the ingredients have been mixed. Or maybe I'm too lazy to get the mixer out. That would be impressively lazy.

I still made the frosting in the mixer, though. Whipping butter isn't fun or easy.

The whole thing took me most of the day to make, but most of it was waiting. Make the batter, wait for the cakes to bake. Panic when the edges bake too quickly and look burnt. Fret that they're not done after half an hour, and wait even more impatiently. Pull them out and wait for them to cool. Get impatient and put them in the freezer. Level and frost the bottom layer, and shove it back in the freezer.

Go bother the neighbors because you clearly need a break from all this hard work.

Frost the other half, put it back in the freezer, make ganache. Forget to put it in a double boiler and sort of accidentally make fudge. Break the corn syrup bottle and have to make the glaze without any syrup. Then finally serve the cake.

I was so proud of it. It looked professional. Sort of. It tasted either professional or like it really wanted you to have diabetes. It was extremely rich, and just tasted like peanut butter chocolate love. Papa Bird loves those things. Home run for Father's Day, right?

Well, not exactly. He was... okay with it. He was tired and not really hungry. He complained it was too rich, too many calories, even with such a small piece. He was tired and dare I say, possibly even a bit grumpy. I was sad I was forcing him to eat a cake he didn't want. I ate an entire huge piece out of spite for everyone who complained.

But really, it is delicious. Fleur Bird loved it so much he had two pieces and asked me to make it for his wedding. Papa Bird told me last night that he loved it and was sorry to see it all gone. So if you know anyone who loves peanut butter and chocolate and want to see them struggle with an amazingly rich piece of cake.... here's your cake.

Recipe slightly modified from from Smitten Kitchen
(Makes 16 slices, with 695 calories and $0.86 per slice)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
    1. Preheat oven to 350.
    2. Mix together four, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
    3. Add oil and sour cream and mix well.
    4. Mix in water 1/2 cup at a time, beating well.
    5. Add in vinegar and vanilla.
    6. Add in eggs and mix very well.
    7. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
    Peanut Butter Frosting
  • 10 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
    1. Beat cream cheese and butter together until fluffy.
    2. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well each time.
    3. Add peanut butter, and mix well, being sure to scrap all parts of the bowl.
    Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
  • 8 ounces chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup half & half
    1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and peanut butter.
    2. Cool, being careful to not let set.
    3. Mix in half & half.
    4. Pour over cake as quickly as possible.

    Today's lessons learned:
    • Cake is not always a great present.
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