The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is very polarizing; it inspires strong feelings in both directions. I love chocolate and peanut butter together but I know lots of people who don't. According to a highly scientific poll I took of a couple people who dislike chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate and peanuts are a much less controversial combo. Confirmed chocolate & PB haters got enthusiastically on board with this cake, which is loaded with salty peanuts but is not at all peanut buttery. It's inspired by snickers bars with chocolate cake layers, caramel frosting with caramel drizzle on top and lots of peanuts. I have taken some liberties with the snickers theme and amped up the salt, using salted roasted peanuts and salty caramel.
Note: I used two 6 inch cake pans for this cake, which makes four cake layers with some extra batter left over. The batter freezes well and you can thaw it later and use it to bake some cupcakes.
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 cups hot water
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tps baking powder
- 1 tps baking soda
- large pinch salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tbs vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream and set aside. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening for 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla and beat again. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture, beating in between additions.
Grease two 6 inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Divide the batter between the pans, reserving a third of the batter for later. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cakes cool before removing from their pans. Run a paring knife along the edge of the pans to loosen the cake from the pan edges before removing from the pan.
When the cakes are entirely cool (or even better, cold from the fridge) carefully divide each cake into two layers with a long bread knife.
adapted from sally's baking addiction
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup salted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 or 3 (or more!) teaspoons salt
Melt sugar in a pan over medium heat, stirring until fully dissolved. Continue stirring constantly until sugar is deep gold. Add butter and stir until incorporated into sugar. Still stirring, add cream in a slow stream. Sugar will bubble up. Continue cooking for one minute and then remove from heat.
The caramel can be made in advance and stored in the fridge.
adapted from Martha Stewart
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 5 egg whites or 1/2 cup + 2tbs pasteurized egg whites (the kind that come in a box)
- 2 cups butter, softened
- 1 vanilla bean's innards or 1 tsp vanilla extract
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Using a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature, continue boiling until the mixture reaches 238°.
As the sugar is boiling, whip the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. The goal is to get the egg whites stiff when the sugar reaches 238°; if they are getting close to stiff but the syrup isn't close I turn the mixer to low until the syrup is nearly up to temperature.
Once the sugar syrup is up to temperature, turn mixer up to high and pour the syrup into the egg whites in a very thin stream. Lower speed to low and beat until the outside of the mixer bowl is no longer warm to the touch. Add butter in small chunks, about 2-3 tbs butter at a time. The frosting will very likely curdle at this stage; this is normal and it should resolve if you keep beating long enough. Just keep on beating!
Once the frosting comes together again, add the vanilla and mix thoroughly, scrapping down the bowl. Then add caramel gradually until it's very caramely and is a nice caramel colour. Taste as you go to and adjust caramel levels as desired.
- chocolate cake layers
- caramel frosting
- lots of salted peanuts, roughly chopped
If you have one, assemble the cake on a turntable or a cake stand.
Lay out cake layers and using an offset spatula, spread frosting in an even layer over one cake layer. Drizzle caramel over the frosting and sprinkle on a handful of peanuts. Place another cake layer on top and continue to frost and layer the remaining cake layers in the same way.
Frost the top and outside of the cake quickly and roughly, covering all exposed cake. Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes to set up the frosting. Spread more frosting all over the cake, smoothing it with a bench scraper held against the edge of the cake while you turn the turntable.
Pour the remaining caramel over the cake so it drips down he side. Top with the remaining peanuts.
Photos: Tyrel Hiebert