Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Early last fall, we went in with a table of friends and bid on a cake at our school auction—it was a tall, decadent chocolate peanut butter cake with drippings down its sides. We couldn’t resist.
I’ve been wanting seconds ever since, but wondered if I could make the base even richer, without making the dessert too heavy. I also wanted a more petite dessert, better suited to a dinner party.

So for the cake, I used one of my favorite recipes from college. A friend brought back a “flourless” chocolate cake recipe from her year abroad in Bologna: Torta di Cioccolato (from Cucina d’Amore). It is at once light and rich, made from an aerated chocolate custard.

Torta di Cioccolato
200g (7 oz) Fine Quality Dark Chocolate
100g (3-1/2 oz) Unsalted Butter
4 Large Eggs, separated
200g (7 oz or 1 cup) sugar
2 Tbsp Flour (plus some extra for dusting)

Melt the chocolate and butter. A double boiler is recommended, but I just use the microwave. Go slowly so as not to burn the chocolate.

Mix yolks with sugar and flour, then stir in butter and chocolate.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.

Butter a round baking dish and dust with flour before adding batter. I added a parchment lining to ensure the cake would come out easily.

Bake at 140C (275F) for 45 minutes.

It’s rich and decadent and delicious served cold, with simply a dusting of confectioner’s sugar—as Aron learned when we first started dating. But it was amazing with the peanut butter frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting
5 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
4 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp light corn syrup, honey, or golden agave syrup
1/4 cup half-and-half

Combine and melt the chocolate, peanut butter, and syrup. Again a double boiler or a bowl set over simmering water is suggested, but you can microwave in bursts, whisking until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove from heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Note that this cake is a challenge to frost, as it’s delicate and easily crumbles on the outer layer. I’d suggest doing an initial crumb coating of the peanut butter frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–and then chilling the cake for about 15 minutes before finishing it off. Of course, you’re also covering most of it with the chocolate glaze, so you can hide any mistakes.

Chill the frosted cake again and let it firm up before adding the warm chocolate glaze. I’d suggest returning the cake to the refrigerator after this final step, also—taking it out 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

For anyone who loves chocolate and peanut butter, this is a must-try.

P.S. The perfect all-occasion olive oil cake.


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