This chocolate layer cake with peanut butter frosting is THE perfect birthday cake. Made with my favorite moist, rich chocolate cake and a fluffy peanut butter frosting, this cake is the perfect way to celebrate the chocolate-PB lover in your life!
“Oh my god, it’s like I’m eating a PEANUT BUTTER DREAM!!!”
These were the words that exploded from one of my best friends’ mouths the moment she took a bite of this chocolate cake last week. Ten of us were crammed into my small apartment, forks at the ready and bodies half-sprawled all across my bed, couch, and carpet. We had gathered for a surprise birthday/farewell party for the screaming friend, who celebrated her 24th birthday on July 5th and would be leaving us for good the Monday preceding that milestone. Needless to say, she was more than pleased at our unexpected last-minute bonanza!
(This is a picture of her eating cake with chopsticks below. Meet Mops, everyone!)
E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web (1952), once wrote of an unlikely fictional friendship: “Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” I think of this quote often–and not only because I happened to dedicate an entire chapter of my dissertation to this writer.
Over the past two years, I have been so lucky to cultivate the friendship of someone who is not only a true friend and an amazing writer (if you could only read this gal’s crazy stories!), but one of the most trusting, genuine, enthusiastic, and supportive people I know. She inspires me every single day to become a better version of myself, and we are going to miss her dearly now that she’s off to bigger and better adventures in India, England, and all around the world! Sadly, I’ll be leaving London just a few weeks before she arrives to start pursuing her second Master’s degree in Buddhist Art History, which means that we won’t get a chance to meet again for a while. But we’re incredibly happy for her nonetheless, and I can’t wait to read and hear about all of her stories to come!
As some of you probably know, I’m part of a program called Global Siblings, which brings together domestic and international graduate students in a group setting for an entire year. I have found so many of my very best friends (including M!) through this invaluable support network, and as it turns out, I’ll be visiting at least three of my international friends this summer when I travel to Europe! I love these guys so much, sometimes I think that my heart might burst from overflowing.
There’s frankly no group for whom I love baking most than my family-away-from home, and especially an avid sweets fan such as Mops. These guys have been so unconditionally loving and accepting over the years that sharing a chef d’oeuvre like this one with them was a joy beyond words!
What makes this cake such a special delight is that this chocolate cake recipe is made with cake flour for a light (but rich!) crumb, both milk and oil for perfect levels of moistness, and a full cup of freshly brewed coffee to bring out those darker undertones from the chocolate. And can we TALK about this peanut butter frosting?? It’s possibly the fluffiest frosting that I’ve ever made or tried, and perfectly complements the tones of my very favorite chocolate cake recipe to date.
So once again, a very happy (now-belated) birthday to one of my best friends, and infinite hearts for my global fam! For which special person (or people) would you make this delectable, chocolate peanut butter layer cake?
For the chocolate cake:
- 1 3/4 cup cake flour
- 2 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup warm, freshly brewed coffee
- 1 cup buttermilk or soy milk
- 1/2 cup canola oil
For the peanut butter frosting:
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2-3 tablespoons soy milk
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
For the chocolate cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two round 8-inch springform pans; line bottom of pans with circular parchment paper cut-outs and grease those as well. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Add eggs, coffee, milk, and oil. Whisk in until batter is smooth and thin.
- Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out mostly clean with moist crumbs clinging to it. Remove pans from oven and allow cakes to cool for five minutes before running a knife along the cake edges. Carefully remove springform pan rings, wrap cake layers tightly with cling wrap, and transfer to freezer for at least 2-3 hours before handling.
For the peanut butter frosting:
- In a medium bowl, cream together all ingredients (adding milk only as needed to reach desired consistency). Beat until frosting is creamy and smooth.
- Once your cake layers have cooled completely, remove cling wrap and invert both layers onto plates. Remove springform pan bottom and peel away parchment paper. Place one layer on an 8-inch cardboard cake round and frost with 2/5 of your frosting. Top with remaining cake layer and apply remaining frosting as desired.
- Slice and enjoy!