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Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Story and photos by Angie Sutton


I wanted to round out this month of desserts, sweets and delectables with two of my favorite ingredients: peanut butter and chocolate. Two of the recipes are time-consuming but definitely worth the investment. They are perfect for a special occasion, such as an anniversary. Two of the recipes are 10 minute versions with similar tastes. I guess my 15-year-old son would refer to those as “recipe hacks.” In any case, all four are pleasing to the palate and popular at Sutton Central. For those who just finished their county fair and survived Foods and Nutrition projects, congratulations, and might I suggest going the route of the easier two recipes until you are able to find your kitchen again.

Peanut Butter Cup Overload Cake

Source: browneyedbaker.com

This rich three-layer chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, chopped peanut butter cups and a chocolate ganache does take some extra time. Is it worth it? Yes!

For the cake:

2 1/2 c. + 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 c. granulated sugar
1 c. + 1 Tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. buttermilk, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. strong black coffee, hot
3/4 c. vegetable oil
4 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the peanut butter frosting:

2 c. powdered sugar
2 c. creamy peanut butter
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. osher salt
⅔ c. heavy cream

For the chocolate ganache:

8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 c. heavy cream
30 miniature peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped, divided

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans, tapping out excess; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).

Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Make the peanut butter frosting: Place the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the heavy cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth (do not overbeat).

Assemble the cake: If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with 1 cup of the peanut butter frosting and sprinkle 10 of the chopped peanut butter cups over the frosting. Top with a second cake layer and cover with another 1 cup of the peanut butter frosting, and top with another 10 chopped peanut butter cups. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the remaining peanut butter frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set.

Make the chocolate ganache: While the cake chills, make the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a 4-cup measuring cup; set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Begin whisking the mixture in the center, gradually working your way outward until the ganache is completely smooth. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened slightly, yet still a pourable consistency.

Garnish the cake: If the ganache was mixed in a bowl, transfer it to a 2-cup measuring cup. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward and flow over the sides of the cake. Top with the remaining 10 chopped peanut butter cups. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. Keep the cake refrigerated, removing it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to serving.

Easy Peanut Butter Pie

This quick-to-make pie gives you the creamy taste of peanut butter but with just about 10 minutes in preparation time (plus at least 2 hours in the refrigerator).

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. milk
1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 graham cracker crumb crust (9 oz)
Chocolate-flavor syrup for decorating

In large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add peanut butter and milk; continue to beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.

Spoon filling into crust spreading evenly. Use chocolate syrup to add swirls to the top. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Chocolate Mousse Cake

2 1/2 c. 2 percent milk
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs
2 tsps. vanilla extract
2 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

For the filling:

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

For the ganache:

10 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 c. heavy whipping cream

In a large saucepan, cook the milk, butter and chocolate over low heat until melted. Remove from the heat; let stand for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat eggs and vanilla; stir in chocolate mixture until smooth. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; gradually add to chocolate mixture and mix well (batter will be thin).

Transfer to three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

For filling, in a small saucepan, melt butter and chocolate. Stir in confectioners’ sugar and cream until smooth.

For ganache, place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally, until ganache reaches a spreading consistency.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with half of the filling. Repeat layers. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread ganache over top and sides of cake. Store in the refrigerator.

Easy Chocolate Mousse

If you’re having a chocolate emergency and prefer to have something ready to go a bit quicker, this recipe is for you.

2 c. cold milk
1 pkg. (5.9 oz.) instant chocolate pudding mix
1 carton (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/2 c. sour cream
Additional whipped topping and chocolate sprinkles for topping

Whisk milk and pudding mix in a large bowl for 2 minutes. Let it stand for 2 minutes or until it appears to be soft set. Fold in whipped topping and sour cream until combined. Spoon into individual servings and top with additional whipped topping and chocolate sprinkles.

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