Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

I baked this cake a few months ago for my Sis's big three-0.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Crumb coat; Six layers of chocolatey peanut butterness

It was the Sis's first foray into her thirties. Back in November, we were actually in the midst of a really long drawn 'cold war'. It's common for siblings to fight, and being sisters, we were no exception. We have a close relationship that's true, but when we do quarrel, boo yah, it's one helluva squabble. Neither of us were willing to give in, and it was our longest 'cold war' ever.

Even though we were in the midst of a quarrel (back then), it was a special occasion and I wanted to make something special. She likes peanut butter, and I had planned months ago (before we had our fight) to make a peanut butter chocolate cake from way before her birthday was due. So, I went ahead to make the cake when her birthday popped around.

I'm actually quite proud of how the cake turned out in the end. It looked spectacularly pretty if I may toot my own horn a bit. My first ever reasonably frosted layered cake. It tasted as good as it looks too. I was afraid the peanut butter frosting would be too sweet, but thankfully, it was not the case. The chocolate cake was extremely moist and chocolatey. The peanut butter mascarpone frosting was super tasty, especially so with the crunch factor from the crunchy peanut butter I used. Overall, I was happy with how it looked and tasted.

I had leftover frosting, and why would I want to waste something so yummy? So, I whipped up a half batch of the recipe to make cupcakes to finish the leftover frosting. I went totally crazy smothering them with chopped peanut butter cups pieces to level up the peanut-butterness. I sent these cupcakes off to my colleagues and my girlfriend. ;)

So did the cake helped us made up? Sad to say, no. It took us another good few months before we actually made up. And yes, we're all fine now if you're wondering. But nevertheless, I knew the Sis liked the cake for she sorta (grudgingly) said that it was good while she was eating it. And when someone praises your cake even though you are mad at each other, it must be a sign that it's really good right?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake
(makes one three layer 6" cake; half recipe below makes 12-15 cupcakes)

Chocolate cake (adapted from Annie at Annie's Eats)
145g all-purpose flour
125g unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pans
1 tbsp. instant espresso or coffee powder
1 cups boiling water
½ cup sour cream (or substitute with vanilla yogurt)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
227g unsalted butter, at room temperature
350g sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ tsp. baking soda (slightly heaping)
½ tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 175˚C.
Butter the edges of 3 6-inch round cake pans and dust with cocoa powder, shaking out the excess. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, espresso powder, and boiling water. Whisk until smooth; set aside to cool slightly. When cooled down a bit, whisk in the sour cream and vanilla. Set aside.
 In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually blend in the sugar and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes more.
Add in the eggs one at a time. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; whisk to blend.
With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the sour cream mixture, beating each addition just until incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
 Bake the cake layers for about 30-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans during halfway through to ensure even baking.
Transfer the baked cake layers to a wire rack and let cool in the pans at least 30 minutes before inverting onto the rack to cool completely.

Peanut butter mascarpone filling (adapted from here)
45g icing sugar
120g (½ cup) peanut butter, creamy or crunchy - I used crunchy
113g mascarpone cheese
½ cup heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla

Combine mascarpone, peanut butter and icing sugar in a bowl, beat until smooth and creamy.
In a separate bowl, combine the cream and vanilla, and whip to soft peaks.
Gently fold 1/3 of the cream into the peanut butter mascarpone mixture to lighten.
Fold in the rest of the cream lightly till you get a smooth frosting.

Peanut butter frosting
3/8 cup whipping cream, chilled
180g icing sugar, sifted
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
170g creamy peanut butter
½ tbsp vanilla
Pinch of coarse salt

Whip whipping cream in clean bowl on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and stiff peaks form, being careful not to over mix.
In a separate bowl, combine the butter and peanut butter. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 45 seconds. Add the icing sugar to the bowl and mix in, slowly at first until incorporated, then increasing the mixer speed to high.
Blend in the vanilla and salt, and continue to whip on high speed until very fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Use a large spatula to gently fold about a third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter frosting. Once the first addition has been evenly incorporated, gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no streaks remain.

When the cakes are cooled thoroughly, slice each cake in half so you have six layers in all.
Start with one cake piece, spread some peanut butter mascarpone filling, then top with another cake piece, repeat till you get six layers of chocolate cakes with peanut butter mascarpone filling in between each layers. Chill the cake in the fridge for one hour.
Crumb coat the chilled cake with a thin layer of peanut butter frosting. Return to fridge to chill for another hour or so.
Use a spatula, spread the peanut butter frosting evenly onto the cake on all sides, smoothing it out evenly.
[*optional] For my decoration as shown above, fill a piping bag fitted with a piping nozzle, pipe rosettes around the border of the top of the cake. Leave a space in between each frosted rosette and fill the alternate spaces with quartered peanut butter cups.

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