The Lion’s Birthday Cake: Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake

June 25, 2011

Today is the Lion’s birthday!  For the next few months he will numerically be two years older than me!  The great thing about the Lion is that he is very easy to cook for.  He has three favorite foods, the first being ice cream and the second being anything chocolate and peanut butter and the third being ribs!  Thus, this year his birthday gift was a smoker and this chocolate peanut butter cake!  Side note:  the Lion has amazing wizardry with smoking perfect ribs, even on his first try!  First try, people!  Just look at those beauties!  But I digress….

I made this birthday cake for the Lion last year.  However, that was my first attempt at making a fancy cake and while it was delicious, it was far from beautiful.  This is my second attempt at making a fancy cake and I think it turned out much better!  This recipe came to me from smitten kitchen and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it.  It’s a very simple and straightforward cake.  Most of it can be completed in one bowl.  The cake is a rich chocolate cake made from cocoa powder with some richness added by sour cream.

All of your ingredients are whisked together, poured into 8 inch cake pans, and baked.  While the cakes are cooling, the frosting is made.  The frosting is a peanut butter cream cheese frosting, and I understand if some of you are wrinkling your nose right now, but trust me…it is delicious!  It beats up to a beautiful golden color and is rich and creamy with just the right amount of peanut butter taste.  I made several alterations to the original recipe including increasing the peanut butter and decreasing the powdered sugar from 5 cups to 1 cup.  I found that the original recipe was far too sweet and did not pack enough peanut butter taste.  Once the frosting is made, be careful.  It is so amazingly delicious, you will find yourself eating it by the spoonful!

After that, all that’s left is frosting the cake.  The Lion’s sister, the Panda, gave me some excellent tips with this process.  On my one prior attempt to frost a cake I used a butter knife.  This was not entirely successful and likely contributed to the less than stellar appearance.  The Panda suggested that I use an offset spatula and also, to ensure that frosting did not smear all over the cake board, to put pieces of parchment paper under the edges of the cake.  This way when the frosting is done, you can pull the pieces away and are left with a flawless cake board!  These tips both worked like a charm.  After that, all that’s left is making a chocolate peanut butter ganache to pour over the cake.  This cake really packs a punch and is a delicious treat for any one who is a fan of chocolate and peanut butter.  If you know someone like that, be a sweetheart and make this cake for them.  Or, you could make your favorite chocolate cupcakes and use the peanut butter frosting and chocolate ganache to frost them.  I’ve done that before too, and it is all very delicious!  Happy Birthday, Lion!


Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake

From at

Prep: Cook: Yield: 1 8 inch 2 layer cakeTotal:

Rich chocolate cake with peanut butter-cream cheese frosting, and a chocolate peanut butter ganache.

You'll Need...

  • For the Cake:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 and 1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • For the frosting:
  • 10 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • For the ganache:
  • 4 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


  1. Make the cake:
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter two or three 8-inch cake pans, line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper, and butter that as well.  (note:  I used one 8-inch cake pan and one 8-inch springform pan as I did not have multiple 8-inch pans.  If you have three cake pans, by all means use them.  The batter may not fit well into two 8-inch pans if they do not have much depth)
  3. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.  Whisk together to evenly combine.  In another bowl, whisk together the oil and the sour cream.  Pour into the dry ingredient and whisk to just combine.  The batter will be rather thick at this point.  Gradually pour in the water, whisking to combine after each addition.  At this point, the batter will be rather liquid with the consistency of think pancake batter.  Add the vinegar and vanilla and beaten eggs and whisk together until the batter is well blended.
  4. Pour into your cake pans and place on the middle rack of the oven.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes in the pans.  After this, invert the cakes onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.  While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
  5. Make the frosting:
  6. Place the cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk.  Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer.  Whisk at a medium high setting until the color looks even.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and whisk again until well combined.  Add half of the powdered sugar and whisk at a low speed, gradually increasing the speed until well combined.  Add the remaining powdered sugar, whisking at low speed and gradually increasing the speed until well combined.  Scrape down the bowl and mix again.  Set in the fridge to firm up for no more than 30 minutes.
  7. Frost the cake:
  8. Place the bottom layer of the cake onto the cake board flat side down.  Place the cake board on a cake stand, or do what I did an place it on the back of a small saucepan.  Place pieces of parchment paper under the edge of the cake.  Spread about 2/3 to 1 cup of frosting on the top of the first cake layer using an offset spatula.  If you have three layers, repeat with second layer.  Place the final layer of the cake on top of that with the flat side facing up.  Spread a good amount of frosting on top of the last layer.  Take small amounts of frosting and frost the sides of the cake.  Do your best to smooth out the frosting.
  9. Take the remaining frosting, there should be about 1/2 to 1 cup left, and place into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.  Twist the bag gently at the rim of the cake until a little star is formed.  Stop twisting and raise the bag leaving a little star.  Repeat all around the cake.  Place in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile make the ganache.
  10. Make the ganache:
  11. Place a heatproof bowl on top of simmering water and add the chocolate chips and peanut butter to it.  Whisk constantly until the chocolate is well melted and well combined with the peanut butter.  Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream whisking until it is well combined and glossy.
  12. Put it all together:
  13. Remove cake from the fridge and pour the warm ganache on top using a small spatula to spread it to the star rim.  Place back in fridge for at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve!  Enjoy!

Additional Notes

Keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

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  • Reply Damayanti June 27, 2011 at 3:41 am

    it looks very beautiful and taste so good that papa Hathi who uasally does not like chocolate cake ate twice. good job mamu. love. Hari OM.

  • Reply June 27, 2011 at 4:08 am

    @Mama Hathi: Thanks! So glad that Papa Hathi liked the cake too! He never eats chocolate! Lots of love!

  • Reply Amrita October 10, 2011 at 3:33 am

    This looks amazing! You can never go wrong with Smitten Kitchen.
    I just realized I haven't baked with peanut butter in ages… 😛

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