Learn how to make Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake from scratch with this easy to follow step-by-step tutorial with lots of photos and video. It's a soft and moist chocolate cake filled with creamy peanut butter frosting and topped with smooth chocolate ganache. The perfect cake for every occasion.
What you will learn:
- make Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake from scratch
- store the cake and how long does it last
- substitute single ingredients
- freeze the whole cake, single slices, or just the cake layers
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CAKE FROM SCRATCH
The recipe calls for making
- chocolate cake,
- peanut butter frosting,
- chocolate ganache,
and that all from scratch.
So let's start with the cake.
HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CAKE
STEP 1: COMBINE DRY INGREDIENTS
Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. These are flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder. Although the espresso powder is optional, I highly recommend it. It's just 1 tsp, and it enhances the flavor of the chocolate. You won't taste the coffee. But if you don't like it, leave it out. There is no substitution required.
STEP 2: MIX WET INGREDIENTS
In a large bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, combine all wet ingredients on medium-low speed. These are oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir just until combined.
STEP 3: ADD DRY INGREDIENTS TO WET INGREDIENTS
Add dry ingredients and mix on medium-low speed just until combined. The batter will be very thick as you can see in the picture below.
STEP 4: ADD HOT WATER
Slowly mix in hot water and stir on low speed just until combined. The water should be hot boiling. Please take care that you don’t burn yourself. The chocolate cake batter will be very thin in the end. Scrape down the sides of the bowl one time before you stop mixing.
STEP 5: FILL CHOCOLATE CAKE BATTER INTO BAKING PANS AND BAKE
Line the bottom and the sides of two 8″ (20cm) baking pans with parchment paper. Therefore cut out circles for the bottoms and stripes for the sides. Spray a bit of baking spray underneath the stripes that it sticks to the sides of the pan. I found out that lining the sides with parchment makes it super easy to remove the cake from the pan without adding any additional fat or moisture to the cake because of the baking spray.
Fill the cake batter into the two baking pans equally. Use a kitchen scale for the most accurate results. If you measure the batter, you can be sure that your cake layers will be equal in size and texture.
Bake at 350°F / 175°C for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick centered in the middle should come out clean with a few cake crumbs on it. See picture below. I bake mine for exact 22 minutes.
Once the cake is cooled down, cut a thin layer off the tops of your cakes to create a flat surface. Then cut each cake layer in half horizontally.
TIP FOR PERFECTLY BAKED CHOCOLATE CAKE
It’s crucial to have the right oven temperature for perfectly baked chocolate cake layers. Therefore I can’t recommend enough to invest in an oven thermometer.
I did a test. I removed my oven thermometer and completely relied on my oven dial. Then I turned the oven to 350°F and baked the cake 22 minutes.
As you can see in the picture below it was a complete fail. Totally overbaked. The tops cracked and split from the cake, and I got lots of holes throughout the cake. Why did this happen you ask? Because my oven temperature is not accurate. 350°F on my oven dial is 375°C for real. I know, crazy, right?
Here the result with an oven thermometer:
A success! Even tops, no huge holes. Just perfect. So please make sure to use an oven thermometer to avoid such problems.
TIPS TO GET SUPER SOFT AND MOIST TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CAKE
- Do not overmix the batter. Just stir until combined at every step.
- Measure dry ingredients correctly. Spoon the flour and also the cocoa into the measuring cup and level with the back of a knife. For example, a packed cup of flour equals 1.5x times the required amount of flour.
- Measure and divide the batter into the two pans equally that they are baked through at the same time.
- Don’t overbake the cake. Remove when a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
After baking, let the cake layers cool down for 15-20 minutes. Then remove from the pans and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely. Now it's time to make the peanut butter frosting.
HOW TO MAKE PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING
For the peanut butter frosting, you need unsalted butter, cream cheese, creamy peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
STEP 1: MIX BUTTER
Mix butter with a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until very creamy. About 1-2 minutes. The butter should be room temperature because cold butter doesn’t mix that well, and you need to mix significant longer to make it creamy.
STEP 2: ADD CREAM CHEESE
Add the cream cheese to the butter and mix until completely combined. This recipe works with brick-style cream cheese (available in the US) as well with spreadable cream cheese (available in the EU). Brick-style cream cheese needs to be room temperature that it incorporates well with the butter. Spreadable one can be used straight out of the fridge because it has already a soft texture and incorporates easily with the butter.
The cream cheese lightens the peanut butter frosting in taste. For me, peanut butter buttercream frosting is too fat and too buttery in taste. The cream cheese makes the frosting creamier and lighter in taste. In my opinion, the peanut butter taste is even more intense when you add cream cheese to the frosting.
STEP 3: ADD PEANUT BUTTER
Stir in peanut butter until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl in-between. The best peanut butter for this frosting is creamy peanut butter from a brand like Skippy.
STEP 4: ADD POWDERED SUGAR AND VANILLA
Sift in powdered sugar and add vanilla and mix until creamy and combined. You can see in the picture below that the texture is creamy but firm enough to spread it all over the cake.
If your frosting is too firm, you can add 1-2 tbsp of milk or heavy cream to make it creamier. If it is too soft, add more powdered sugar, up to ½ cup. In this case, you may need to add a pinch of salt to cut down the sweetness.
Then place one cake layer on a cake stand, turner, or serving plate. Spread ¼ of the frosting over the cake. Repeat two more times.
Place last cake layer on top and lightly frost the outside and the sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. The frosting is enough to make a naked cake. It's the perfect amount of frosting for the cake that the frosting is not too overpowering.
Chill the cake for at least 4 hours before you top it with ganache and decorate it.
HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE GANACHE
The chocolate ganache requires just 3 ingredients. These are dark chocolate, heavy cream, and corn syrup. And the good news is that it is easy to make
- Finely chop high-quality dark chocolate bars. I prefer using brands like Ghirardelli, Lindt, or Hershey's. The taste of the chocolate has a huge impact on the ganache. I don't recommend chocolate chips because they don't melt and incorporate well with the other ingredients. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl.
- Place heavy cream and corn syrup in a small bowl and microwave until very hot and bubbling.
- Pour hot cream over the chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes.
- Stir until smooth and combined.
This is how it looks when you begin stirring:
This is how the chocolate ganache looks like in the end:
Let the ganache stand for about 5-10 minutes. Test the consistency of the glaze down the side of the bowl. It should drip. The longer it stands, the thicker it gets. If it is too firm, re-warm it a few seconds in the microwave. Once it reached the desired consistency, it's ready to spoon on top of the cake.
Remove cake from the fridge and spoon the glaze little by little around the sides and let it drip off the sides. Do this with a small spoon and do one drip at the time. Then spoon or pour the rest of the glaze on top of the cake (maybe you don't need all) and level with an offset spatula. Place cake in the fridge for 10-15 minutes that the glaze gets firm if needed.
In my opinion, cake slices are best eaten at room temperature. Therefore place it on the kitchen counter 15-30 minutes before serving.
HOW TO STORE PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CAKE AND HOW LONG DOES IT LAST
I recommend storing the peanut butter in the fridge. If you store it in the fridge, it lasts up to 4 days. If stored at room temperature, up to 3 days. But as I said, I highly recommend to store it in the fridge. If it is too warm and humid in your climate zone, the frosting could get too soft and bad.
The following substitutions are possible:
DUTCH-PROCESSED COCOA POWDER
This chocolate cake calls for dutch-processed cocoa powder and baking powder. If you want to substitute with natural unsweetened cocoa powder, then substitute the dutch-processed cocoa powder 1:1. Instead of 1 tbsp of baking powder, use 1+½ tsp baking powder and 1+½ tsp of baking soda. Natural cocoa powder needs baking soda to react, and dutch-processed cocoa powder needs baking powder.
I added 1 tsp of espresso powder to the cake batter to enhance the chocolate flavor. No worries. You won’t taste the coffee. But if you really don’t want to add the espresso powder, then just leave it out.
For gluten-free chocolate cake, I recommend using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1.
HOW TO FREEZE CHOCOLATE CAKE
The whole cake
After chilling for 4 hours, place the Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake without the ganache in the freezer until it is firm, for about 2 hours. Remove the cake from the freezer and tightly wrap in plastic foil twice. Make sure that everything is covered. Then wrap two layers of tin foil around until completely covered. It freezes well up to 2 months.
Unwrap the cake and thaw in the fridge overnight. Then make the chocolate ganache and decorate your cake. Eat within 2 days.
Place the single slices in the freezer for about 1 hour. Single slices are possible to freeze with the ganache. Then remove from the freezer and tightly wrap in plastic foil twice, until fully covered. Place in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. It freezes well up to 2 months.
For thawing, unwrap the cake and place on the kitchen counter for 1-2 hours. Eat within 1 day.
Just the cake layers
After baking the chocolate cake layers, remove the paper and let cool completely. Then tightly wrap each cake layer in plastic foil twice. Place in freezer bags and remove as much air as possible. Freeze up to 1 month.
For thawing, unwrap the cake layers and let sit on the counter for about 1-2 hours. Once it is room temperature, make the frosting and the ganache and assemble the cake as described.
If you make this Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake recipe, leave a comment, rate it and tag a photo #alsothecrumbsplease on Instagram! Would love to see your snap!
Click here to see all recipes on my blog.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Recipe
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled (240g)
- ¾ cup dutch-processed cocoa powder, spooned and leveled (65g)
- 1+½ cups granulated sugar (300g)
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp espresso powder (optional)
- ½ cup mild flavored vegetable oil (120ml)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk (120ml)
- 1 vanilla bean* (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1 cup boiling hot water (240ml)
peanut butter frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature (113g)
- 1 cup cream cheese, softened (226g)
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter (250g)
- 1+¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted (150g)
- 1 vanilla bean* (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped (6.1oz / 175g)
- ½ cup heavy cream (120ml)
- 2 tbsp light corn syrup (30ml)
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line the bottom and the sides of two 8" (20cm) baking pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder and stir to combine. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl with a stand or handheld mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla* just until combined.
- Stir in dry ingredients to combine. The batter will be very thick.
- Slowly mix in hot water until combined. The batter will be very thin.
- Divide batter into the two prepared baking pans equally. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Don't overbake. I baked mine for 22 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 15-20 minutes. Then remove from pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool to room temperature.
peanut butter frosting
- In a large mixing bowl with a stand or handheld mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add cream cheese and stir until creamy and combined.
- Add peanut butter and mix until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Sift in powdered sugar and add vanilla* and mix until combined and sugar is dissolved.
assemble the cake
- Cut a thin layer off the tops of your cakes to create a flat surface. Then cut each cake in half horizontally. Place one cake layer on a cake stand, turner or serving plate. Spread ¼ of the frosting over the cake. Repeat two more times.
- Place last cake layer on top and lightly frost the outside and the sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Chill at least 4 hours in the fridge or overnight.
- Place chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl.
- Place heavy cream and corn syrup in another heatproof bowl and microwave until very hot and bubbling for about 1-2 minutes.
- Pour over chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes.
- Whisk until smooth, and the chocolate is completely melted. Let stand for about 5-10 minutes. Test the consistency of the glaze down the side of the bowl. It should drip. The longer it stands, the thicker it gets. If it is too firm, re-warm it a few seconds in the microwave. Once it reached the desired consistency, it's ready to spoon on top of the cake.
finish your cake
- Remove cake from the fridge and spoon the glaze little by little around the sides and let it drip off the sides. Do this with a small spoon and do one drip at the time. Then spoon or pour the rest of the glaze on top of the cake (maybe you don't need all) and level with an offset spatula. Place cake in the fridge for 10 minutes that the glaze gets firm (if needed).
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days.
- Read the blog post for additional information on how to make Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake, how to store and freeze the cake, substitutions, etc.
- Watch step-by-step photos to see the required consistency at every step.
- Watch the 102 seconds video to see the whole process of making Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake.