This layered Chocolate Brownie Cake is sandwiched around creamy peanut butter frosting and smothered in chocolate ganache. Yeah, it’s good.
Guys, today might just be the best day of the year. Better than Christmas. Better than Thanksgiving. Maybe even better than your birthday. You know why? Because it’s Chocolate Peanut Butter day! That’s right, friends. An entire day dedicated to the best combo since Cory and Topanga.
To celebrate, my friends Carla of Chocolate Moosey and Miriam of Overtime Cook are hosting a party filled with over 30 recipes featuring chocolate and peanut butter. If you’d like to keep up with all the action, you can follow the hashtag #chocPBday or follow our chocolate peanut butter board on Pinterest.
There you’ll find some of our favorite PB and chocolatey goodies like my no bake peanut putter bars, a bowl full of Puppy Chow, these Reese’s pieces peanut butter cookies, or this cake we’re talking about today…
Sooo about this 4 Layer Chocolate Brownie Cake. Where to begin?
It all started with a birthday. My nephew’s to be exact. He turned 18 (what?! HOW???) a few weekends ago and we had a surprise neon-themed party in his honor. I, of course, offered to make the cake. My nephew’s favorite foods are brownies and chocolate peanut butter cream pie. So of course, I decided a chocolate and peanut butter layer cake was in order.
But then I thought…why not stop there? Why not add brownies? It is his 18th birthday after all. Let’s go nuts. And so we did.
I’m not going to lie. This recipe is not for the faint of heart. It’s rich and dense and intensely chocolatey and peanut buttery. It’s for true chocolate and peanut butter lovers.
Since it does have several layers and steps, I decided to break it down for you step by step. I know it’s going to be hard to look at all of these pictures of chocolate and peanut butter. Bear with me.
First, bake a batch of brownies and a batch of chocolate cake. The brownies and cake should each be divided evenly between two 9 inch round pans, giving you four layers total. I made this easy on myself and used a box brownie and cake mix. Sue me if you want (actually don’t…that would suck). Just feel free to make your own from scratch brownies and cake mix if you’re feeling uber ambitious. Here’s a tip: whenever I make a layer cake, I always grease the pans, then cut parchment paper into circles the size of the pan, press them to the bottom, then grease the top of those. This makes the cakes release from the pan so much easier.
While I appreciate the occasional shortcut, frosting is not the place to cut corners. It’s so easy to whip up a batch of frosting and it tastes so much better than store bought! This peanut butter frosting recipe came from my friend Cathy, and I’m in love with it. It’s a cream cheese frosting that’s not too painfully sweet and has a robust peanut butter flavor.
Alright, on to the layers! Here’s how this thing goes down. Start with a layer of brownies. Place a big scoop of frosting in the center then work it out to the outsides. It’s good if you have some frosting pooling over the sides. You’ll use that for the crumb coat. Repeat those steps layering brownie, frosting, cake, frosting, brownie, frosting, cake. Yeah, it’s a lot of chocolate and peanut butter.
Time for the crumb coat! Place a big scoop of frosting on the top layer and work it around the top and sides of the cake. You want this layer to be fairly thin. The point is just to grab up all the loose crumbs so your outer layer will be nice and smooth. After the crumb coat, be sure to refrigerate the cake for at least an hour or until firm.
After the crumb coat is firm, take the cake out and spread one final layer of frosting around the outside. It doesn’t have to perfectly smooth because we’re about to pour creamy chocolate ganache (liquid gold) all over it. Sorta like this:
Okay friends, here’s where you can learn from my mistakes. Do not make this cake on a platter the same size as the cake, or you will end up with puddles of chocolate ganache everywhere. It also makes it really, really difficult to cover or transfer anywhere. I ended up having to balance this stand, uncovered, on my lap the entire way to the party. I had to chuckle thinking of what the scene would’ve looked like had we gotten into a car accident. Just me and the husband, covered in shards of broken glass, chocolate, and peanut butter frosting. I have to tell ya, if we have to die, that’s the way I want to go.
I finished the cake with a simple circle of peanut butter chips. (Three cheers for avoiding a piping bag!). As you can (painfully) see, my layer cake wasn’t level at all. I try not to stress myself about these things too much. I figure a crooked cake proves it’s homemade, and besides, it tastes amazing, and that’s more than can be said for some bakery cakes.
So let’s forget about calories and diets and perfectly level cakes and celebrate chocolate and peanut butter day the way it was meant to be celebrated– with complete and utter abandon. You with me?
…oh, and don’t forget that if you need to scratch that peanut butter itch, you needn’t wait till dessert. Try a Fluffernutter, a grilled PBJ, or just squeeze some Amish Peanut Butter Spread onto just about anything!
- 1 box fudge brownie mix (make sure it's a family size) plus the eggs, oil, and water called for on the box OR Use your favorite homemade recipe
- 1 box chocolate cake mix plus eggs, oil, and water called for on the box OR Use your favorite homemade recipe
For the peanut butter frosting:
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
- 4 Tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla
- 8 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 4-6 Tablespoons half and half
For the ganache:
- 4 ounces chocolate
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Peanut butter chips (optional)
- Once the cakes and brownies are all cooled and removed from the pans, you're ready to start frosting! Start by putting a small dollop of frosting on the plate/board/platter where you'll be frosting the cake. (Note: Only do this if you aren't intending to move the cake after decorating it.) Place one layer of brownie on top. Add a large scoop of frosting and use an offset spatula to work the frosting from the center out to the outsides of the cake. It's fine if there's frosting hanging off the sides.
- Place a layer of cake on top of the first layer of frosting. Follow the same frosting techniques. Repeat with the remaining layer of brownie and cake.
- For the final layer, place a large scoop of frosting on top of the cake and use a spatula to press it out to the edges. You want this layer to be fairly thin. It's main purpose is to pick up any loose crumbs. Use your spatula to smooth out the extra frosting on the sides. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour.
- In the meantime, make the ganache. Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat proof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until very hot to the touch. Pour it over the chopped chocolate and allow it to set for a few minutes. Stir the mixture vigorously until it begins to form a smooth, creamy chocolate coating.
- Once the crumb coat is set, remove the cake from the fridge and give it one last coat of frosting. Pour the ganache over top of the cake, allowing it to drip over the sides. Decorate with peanut butter chips, if possible.
Recipe by NeighborFood