Consider yourself warned: This is a darn good chocolate cake. Some people say it reminds them of Reese’s peanut butter cups. I don’t know about that, but I know that the whole chocolate and peanut butter combination is fantastic in this homemade chocolate cake recipe.
My oldest son asked for an irritatingly tiny sliver of this deep and dark chocolate cake. As he often (annoyingly) does, he expressed dismay over another chocolate cake ( know, I don’t get it either) and requested vanilla or white cake in the future.
In the words of Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, “As if!”
But then. He returned for a second, bigger slice of the sheet cake. My friend had a similar response, telling my oldest that he’d also like to try the cake … after finishing a piece of said cake.
Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
I made this homemade cake on purpose. The good-sized crowd could be a little picky about things. But I didn’t want to bake another chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting or hunt down the right nut butter or futz with chocolate ganache or a peanut butter filling or other nonsense.
I wanted something different than a Bundt cake (even though the Irish Cream Bundt Cake recipe is perfection).
Chocolate and peanut butter were a mostly safe bet. A chocolate peanut butter cake sounded like the way to go. I didn’t want to end up with another big pan of something no one ate.
That’s a bummer.
So, I dug into my cookbooks, flipping through recipe index after recipe index, image after image after recipe ingredient list, hunting for something, anything that would appeal to the masses.
I knew I didn’t feel like messing with multiple cake pans for a cake layer or two, digging out my 12 cup Bundt cake pan, or dealing with chocolate ganache. I wanted something relatively simple without ingredients like sour cream or large amounts of heavy whipping cream (I was out) or cream cheese (it wasn’t what I was looking for).
I found a just-right cake recipe in the Best of Relish Cookbook: Celebrating America’s Love of Food.
A good scratch-made chocolate cake should be more than a pretty face. It needs that big chocolate flavor to go with it. If you remember in my article on how to make brownies, we learned that cocoa powder, not melted chocolate, ups that chocolatey burst.
The cocoa powder keeps baked goods tender and not dry when compared to melted chocolate.
And this cake? This cake has cocoa powder. It’s nice you don’t need to mess with melting chocolate. I know it doesn’t take long, but some days, time is at a premium.
The frosting is made with smooth peanut butter (think: peanut butter buttercream) and unsalted butter (I typically use salted butter over unsalted butter because that type of butter keeps longer and that extra blip of salt makes sweet things taste better).
Without a single chocolate chip in the cake, it’s just a moist chocolate cake you can sink your teeth into. Ew. I used the “m” word.
Peanut Butter Lover? You’ll Use this Peanut Butter Frosting Everywhere
A sheet cake can feed a crowd. This 13 x 9-inch cake size could easily feed 15-20 people, depending on your generosity. Or much less. Expect this lovely chocolate peanut butter combo to stay not dry (I hate the “m” word, I really do) for days.
What goes better with chocolate than peanut butter? It’s why no one can resist a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. This creamy peanut butter frosting is so smooth and fluffy. You won’t even need heavy cream for this one — you’ll use milk.
Whether you have your own favorite chocolate cake recipe or not, pair this smooth peanut butter frosting with it.
You will use creamy peanut butter for this recipe. I wouldn’t substitute peanut butter chips. This recipe is intended to have peanut butter flavor throughout instead of the short bursts of peanut butter you’d get if you used peanut butter chips. You won’t have the same effect with the chips.
But, if you were feeling a bit rebellious, you could throw a handful or two of chocolate or peanut butter chips onto the frosted cake or a few roughly chopped-up Reese’s peanut butter cups on top for kicks.
If you love the peanut butter chocolate cake recipe (and I believe you will), feel free to mix it up in the future, and top the chocolate cake layer with a nice chocolate buttercream. You don’t have to keep the peanut butter buttercream.
The Best of Relish Cookbook
Are you familiar with Relish Magazine? Started in February of 2006, Relish was the first food magazine distributed in newspapers. By 2009, it appeared in more than 500 newspapers and boasted a readership of 15 million readers.
Chances are high you’ve flipped through the magazine before.
Is this magazine still a thing? It looks to be available today. The website mentioned in my cookbook is dead, but I did see a smattering of Relish magazines available online. Can anyone positively confirm or deny Relish magazine’s continued existence?
I am a fan of this cookbook. The editor of Relish magazine is a name you may recognize: Jill Melton. Yes, Melton was the editor of Cooking Light magazine for 15 years before moving to Relish.
Melton worked for Relish for seven years — until advertisers became the focus.
But this cookbook is a compilation of the magazine’s favorite recipes from when Relish magazine was young. It offers many full-page, full-color images, a tidy organization, and recipes you’ll use. The Relish cookbook offers much more than this cake with peanut butter and chocolate, let me tell ya.
See Inside the Best of Relish Cookbook
This is a 8.3 x 0.8 x 10.3-inch, 216-page cookbook (including the index). Discover 150 recipes I’d describe as generally easy. They aren’t super foofy or la di da.
Chapters in The Best of Relish cookbook include:
- Breakfasts, Appetizers and Beverages
- Fish and Seafood
- Vegetarian Meals
I have plenty of pages earmarked. What else is new? Am I right? This one is definitely worthy of being part of my cookbook collection. Crusty Rhubarb Pie looks wonderful with a crumble topping. Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies intrigue me.
I’d also enjoy the Chocolate Relish Bars. They are an oat-based bar with raspberry (raspberry!) and chocolate chips.
Other cake recipes include a Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Cream, a Coconut Crumb Cake, and a Honey Cheesecake (if we count cheesecake as cake).
That’s only the dessert chapter, and look how well we’ve done. We’re all about trying interesting things, so Apricot and Lamb Tagine; Penne with Spinach, Olives, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes; Saimin (a traditional Hawaiian soup); and Seafood Lasagna fit our diverse tastes.
I’d say it’s a cookbook with a mix of traditional favorites and new items with just enough of a spin. It’s accessible without being too “out there” or requiring multiple trips to track down ingredients. I quite like it.
Recipe for Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
Is it close to a peanut butter cup? Could this be your new favorite single cake layer cake? Could this chocolate cake and peanut butter buttercream change your life? Okay, it’s probably a “no” on that last one. But it is good — and may make your list of things to put on frequent rotation.
Could you slice it and stack it with the peanut butter frosting turned into a peanut butter filling? Could you then drizzle it with chocolate ganache? I’m thinking maybe. I think that could be quite a dessert.
Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe
- 1 13 x 9-inch Baking Pan
For the Chocolate Cake
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar Packed
- 2/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 12 teaspoons Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 Cup Buttermilk I use Buttermilk Powder because I cannot find full-fat buttermilk in my area. Follow the directions on the package if you do the same.
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil or Canola Oil
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1 Cup Boiling Water or Hot Coffee
For the Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting
- 5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter Softened (I use Salted Butter, FYI)
- 1 1/2 Cups Plus 2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar If your powdered sugar is lumpy, use a whisk on it first to break up the lumps and chunks. Off-brands tend to be chunkier than name-brands of powdered sugar.
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
- 2 to 5 Tablespoons Milk 2% or Whole Milk is best
- 350* oven.
- Spray the 13 x 9-inch cake pan with Baker's Joy or Pam for Baking with Flour. Set the pan aside.
For the Chocolate Cake
- Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of your electric mixer.
- Add the Eggs, Buttermilk, Oil, and your Vanilla Extract. Whisk until smooth.
- Stir in Boiling Water (or Hot Coffee — it will not make the cake taste like coffee, but it does amp up the chocolate flavor).
- Pour the cake batter into the greased 13 x 9-inch pan.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center is clean. If you lightly press the top of the cake, it will bounce back.
- Cool in the pan on a wire rack (expect at least an hour of waiting) before topping with the frosting. If you rush this cake cooling process, you risk melting the peanut butter frosting.
For the Peanut Butter Frosting
- Combine the Powdered Sugar and Vanilla Extract in the bowl of your electric mixer.
- Add the Peanut Butter and beat until smooth and creamy.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of the Milk. Beat well.
- Check the consistency of your peanut butter mixture. Does it feel like you could spread it over your cake easily? Is it too firm for spreading? If it is too firm, add another Tablespoon of Milk. Mix and try again.
- Spread the Peanut Butter Frosting over the top of the COMPLETELY cooled cake.
- Jazz up the chocolate peanut butter cake with a sprinkling of chopped peanuts, or a couple of chopped-up Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, or leave it "as is" as I do. Heck, you could just sprinkle some jimmies over the top to make it festive.
I am confused. Amazon shows a 2013 Best of Relish Cookbook with a different cover. But inside? It’s all the same. Is this a mistake? Is there a third Relish cookbook? I can’t figure it out.