29 September 2009

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Cream

It seems lately the only things that I can bake well are sweet and sinful. I tried a healthy corn-based bread recently and it was an 80% failure. Despite how much cake I see at work, I've been thinking a lot about making a cake from scratch in the comfort of my own kitchen.

Yesterday I finally got the chance and decided on a chocolate cake that I've successfully made before, but with the added pizzazz of creamy peanut butter goodness.

It is likely that you already have the cake recipe in your house. Go to your kitchen, open the cupboard, and pull out that old can of Hershey's cocoa that's been hiding behind the sugar for the last 8 months. On the back is my favorite chocolate cake recipe along with a recipe for chocolate frosting.

For those of you who don't keep a stash of Hershey's around for emergency chocolate fixes, I'll share the recipes here.

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat your oven to 350. Grease and flour two 8-inch round baking pans. (I like to set my pans on a sheet of parchment paper, take a pencil and trace around the bottom of the pans, cut out the circles, and put the parchment circles in the greased pans before re-greasing and flouring. This eliminates stickage when you try to turn out your cake after baking and the parchment easily peals off of the bottom of the cake.)

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water until incorporated (batter will be thin). Pour into pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack, where they should be allowed to cool completely.

While the cakes are baking and/or cooling, you can work on making the peanut butter cream filling and the chocolate frosting.

Peanut Butter Cream Filling
9 ounces creamy peanut butter
one 8 ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chilled whipping cream

Using an electric mixer, beat peanut butter and cream cheese in a large bowl to blend. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until well blended.

In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. This takes a few minutes.

Fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture in four additions. Once it is all incorporated, the mixture will be light and fluffy. Place in fridge until ready to use.

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt the butter. (Cut the stick up into small pieces, place in bowl, and zap it for about a minute in the microwave.) Stir in the cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed, until it is spreading consistency. Add more milk if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Make sure the cake and frosting have completely cooled before attempting to assemble the cake. Mine were a little warm last night and I ended up fighting with the cake to try to keep the layers from sliding apart and off the plate.
Slice the cake layers in half. (Place one hand on top of a cake to hold it steady, and saw straight through the middle from one side to the other using a long serrated knife.)
Place one layer on a cake board or serving plate. Top with a layer of peanut butter cream and then another layer of cake. Repeat this process until all four cake layers are stacked, with the top layer being cake.

Then frost the entire outside with the chocolate frosting.

Now it is time to eat! In my opinion, this cake tastes better after the whole thing has spent some quality time in the fridge and is nice and chilled.

Tree Bird

Thank God eating and drinking are not only a necessity, but a pleasure!