Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

May 21, 2018

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake – Rich, decadent, dark chocolate cake layers with whipped peanut butter frosting make this cake hands-down the best chocolate peanut butter cake you’ll ever have! That’s a promise.

I love getting creative with my cake flavors and texture combinations, but there’s something about the classics that never get old. I shared a lot of classic cake flavors when I first started my blog a couple of years ago. I’ve been meaning to revisit them ever since. I finally had a chance to work on several of them this past month and can’t wait to reintroduce you to many of them. 

The World’s Best Flavor Combination

First on my list is my favorite flavor combination: chocolate and peanut butter. I never get tired of this combo, in any dessert. It always works! I especially love this pairing in cake form. Bittersweet, rich dark chocolate cake, paired with a sweet and salty, whipped peanut butter frosting is like heaven on earth. Neither element over powers the other. They compliment each other so well.

Chocolate Cake

The chocolate cake is my High Altitude Friendly Chocolate Cake. It’s a cake I worked on perfecting for several months after moving to Utah and having the original recipe fail on me over and over. The recipe is pretty much fool proof at this point. And don’t worry if you’re in lower altitude or higher altitude. I’ve got you covered.

Altitude Changes

If you’re at low altitude, you won’t need to change a thing about this recipe. I’ve made it several times in Southern California and haven’t run into any baking issues. If you’re at higher altitude than Northern Utah, there’s a couple steps you can take to make sure you’re chocolate cake doesn’t sink.

  1. For every cup of all-purpose called for in the recipe, add an extra tablespoon of flour (in addition to what I already have added).
  2. For every cup of sugar called for in the recipe, remove a tablespoon of sugar (sugar tends to weigh cakes down at high altitude).
  3. Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh (don’t use them if they’re over 6 months old).
  4. Don’t over mix the batter! You only need to mix the batter on low speed, just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting

I love this frosting! For the peanut butter frosting recipe, you’ll want to make sure the heavy whipping cream is chilled before you start to beat it. It also helps the whipping cream to thicken quickly if you freeze your mixing bowl for about 15 to 20 minutes before you start beating in your stand mixer. I also suggest using smooth creamy peanut butter. And if we’re getting really specific, I also suggest using Skippy Peanut Butter – for no other reason than it’s my favorite! It makes this frosting so light and fluffy!

Decorating Tips

As you start to decorate this chocolate peanut butter cake, there’s a couple things to remember:

  1. You’ll want to level the cake layers, if needed, to ensure your cake stacks evenly.
  2. Chill the cake layers for at least an hour in the freezer before frosting. Working with chilled sheet cakes will make frosting the cake much easier – you’re less likely to get crumbs in your frosting.
  3. Make sure to do a crumb coat before you frost the entire cake. The chocolate crumbs are moist and easily get stuck in the frosting if you don’t do a crumb coat. Remember, the crumb coat is just a thin layer of frosting that you freeze for 10 to 15 minutes to set. This will lock in the crumbs so your final coat of frosting is crumb-free.

Ok! I think you’re all set to go. Hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

5 from 24 votes
Rich, dark chocolate cake layers with whipped peanut butter frosting.
Servings 1 3-layer, 8-inch cake
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 18 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 18 mins

Ingredients
  

FOR THE CAKE

  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (88.5 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder (or similar premium brand)
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) salt
  • 3 large or extra large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 cup (236 g) hot water
  • 1/2 cup (109 g) vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM

  • 5 cups (625 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups (339 g) unsalted butter slightly cold
  • 1 cup (250 g) creamy peanut butter (I like Skippy)
  • 1 tablespoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (57.75 g) heavy whipping cream
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping you’ll want to make an extra ½ batch.

Instructions
 

FOR THE CAKE

  • Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans (butter or spray, line bottom with parchment paper, butter or spray paper and dust with flour).
  • In a bowl of electric mixer, combine all the dry ingredients.
  • Combine eggs, buttermilk, water, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and lightly beat with a fork.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix on medium speed for two minutes. Batter will be thin. Scrape sides and mix for another 30 seconds. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans (I like to use a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed).
  • Bake for 18 minutes (you may need more time depending on your oven), until toothpick comes out almost clean. Cool on wire racks for 10-15 minutes, then gently invert onto racks until cooled completely.
  • When cakes are completely cooled, I like to wrap each cake layer individually with plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigerator or freezer until I’m ready to frost. The cake will be easier to work with if it’s cooled a bit. If I’m making the cake a day or two before I actually need to frost it, I put it in the freezer to ensure freshness. If I’m frosting same-day, I’ll just put it in the refrigerator to chill until needed.

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM

  • In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and peanut butter. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 45 seconds.
  • Add the powdered sugar to the bowl and mix in, slowly at first until incorporated, then increasing the mixer speed to high. Blend in the vanilla extract, salt and heavy whipping cream, and continue to whip on high speed until very fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  • Use a wooden spoon to mix frosting to get rid of air bubbles.
Author: Courtney Rich
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Keyword: Beginner, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Join the Conversation

  1. 5 stars
    Awesome cake, so delicious and easy to make!! Hits the chocolate and peanut butter just right!!

  2. Absolutely LOVE your recipes! First time I’m going to make my cake ahead of time. When using layers from the freezer, should they be taken out of fridge for a period of time prior to assembly?
    Wondering how long it takes to thaw..

    1. I would only take them out 30 minutes before you want to frost the cake. xx

  3. Adrienne Gehman says:

    Hi, Courtney,
    I am hoping to make this cake and some of your others as desserts for my wedding. However, I would like to make 3-layer 9 inch cakes instead of 3-layer 8 inch cakes. Is there an easy way to increase the recipe? I was thinking about making 1 and 1/3 recipes to accommodate the switch. What are your thoughts? Also, they will be naked cakes, so don’t worry about the icing. Thanks!

    1. I would 1.5 the recipe

  4. I only had three 6″inch round pans and ended up getting 3 layers about 2 inches tall each. The sponge is really nice and I like that its slight bitterness of the Extra Brute Cocoa powder offset the sweetness of the american buttercream. I ended up using sugar geek’s american buttercream that I had lying around, and just mixed in enough peanut butter to taste. it’s pretty much the same style of buttercream and it tastes just like a PB Cup! Really great recipe Courtney!

    The only thing different I did was I tented foil on the top when the cakes were baking in order to seal in the moisture. As a result I baked about 15 minutes longer but doing so prevented me from needing simple syrup soaking between each layer!

  5. Can this be converted to a sheet cake or two 9 inc pans with or without adjustments? Eg usually about 6 cups batter will fill my 9×13 pan.

  6. 5 stars
    Beginner friendly and overall, a wonderful cake! I’m always nervous for new recipes because I hate to see ingredients wasted. But this cake was a huge hit! The frosting is to die for and I’m not really even a peanut butter fan. Made it for my husbands birthday and he was in heaven! I think it would be so fabulous as cupcakes and plan to make them often! I did 2, 10-inch cakes and changed nothing about the recipe. Thanks!!

  7. 3 stars
    I made this recipe and must have messed up somewhere… the batter was VERY thick. After I cooked it… it was very dense and heavy and when eating the cake it had a weird texture. Any advice? I know it has to turn out better than this! Your recipes always turn out. Not sure what I did wrong here.

    1. Oh no. It sounds like maybe you left out some of the liquids because this batter is supposed to be very thin actually. Did you get the buttermilk, oil, eggs and water in?

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