Rich and Decadent Peanut Butter Pie Cake
Inspired by my Peanut Butter Pie, my new Peanut Butter Pie Cake is filled with pretzel graham cracker crust, chocolate cake, peanut butter filling, salted caramel, roasted peanuts, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and salted caramel buttercream.
Peanut Butter Pie Cake
Ok, friends! Your taste buds are in for a real treat! My new Peanut Butter Pie Cake is filled with so many delicious elements! Inspired by my Peanut Butter Pie, this cake has the crust, the chocolate, the peanut butter, and the caramel all piled into a three layer 8-inch cake that will knock your socks off!
Let’s take a look at all the elements of this incredible Peanut Butter Pie Cake:
Pretzel Graham Cracker Crust
While I’m not one for a pastry pie crust, I love a cookie crust, a pretzel crust, or a graham cracker crust. Combine any of those two elements, and you’ve got yourself a serious winner in my book! We’re using mixture of a graham cracker and pretzel crumbs to maximize the sweet and salty flavor combinations.
To make the crust, you’ll simply combine all of the ingredients and mix until you have a “wet, sand-like” texture. Once the crust is made, you’ll press the crumbs firmly into the cake pans. We’re not baking this crust before we bake the cake layers on top, so set the pans to the side until the batter is ready to go.
NOTE: I doubled the crust after making the cake in these pictures. I think you’ll love having more of this texture and flavor. The amount I used simply wasn’t enough 🙂
For the chocolate cake layers, I created a slightly new chocolate cake recipe. This one is a hybrid of my dark chocolate cake and my milk chocolate cake. I felt like my go-to dark chocolate cake wouldn’t hold up as well as the texture of my milk chocolate cake with everything going into this Peanut Butter Pie Cake. So, we’re using more of my milk chocolate cake recipe, but using dark chocolate cocoa powder instead of regular cocoa. I think you’ll really like how the cake layers hold up with the crust and fillings.
Check out the FAQ section below for a link to my favorite dark cocoa powder.
How to Make Tall, Moist Cake Layers
When making the cake layers, don’t forget to follow my go-to tips for getting your cakes to rise and bake well:
- Preheat your oven for 30 minutes prior to baking.
- Use good quality pans like Fat Daddio.
- Spray your pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
- Beat the butter, sugar, eggs for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed, until nearly double in volume and smooth.
- Don’t over mix your cake batter once you add the dry ingredients.
- Use room temperature wet ingredients.
- Use fresh baking powder.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.
Peanut Butter Filling
The inspiration for this decadent peanut butter filling that I originally used in my Peanut Butter Pie comes from Magnolia Bakery. The original Magnolia Bakery recipe has three blocks of cream cheese in the filling! Three! It was a little too much cream cheese for my taste, so I lowered the amount of cream cheese in my recipe to one 8-oz block of cream cheese. I really want the peanut butter to stand out, rather than the cream cheese.
To make the filling, you’ll start by whipping the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks. Next, grab another bowl and combine the cream cheese and peanut butter, and mix until combined. To finish, fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture.
In addition to the salted caramel drizzle between the chocolate cake layers and peanut butter pie filling, I’ve added chopped salted peanuts and Reese’s peanut butter cups. Not even sure that part needs explaining… more peanuts and peanut butter cup flavor??? Yes, please!
If you haven’t made homemade salted caramel yet, you’re in for a serious life-changing experience! Once you make caramel from scratch, I think it’s pretty safe to say you won’t be going back to store bought.
Here are some steps to keep in mind when making homemade caramel for your cakes.
- You’ll start by combining the sugar, water, and corn syrup (or honey) over the stove on medium heat.
- Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves and then step back!
- Allow the mixture to boil and cook. Stirring the sugar mixture at this point will encourage crystallization and we don’t want that!
- It will take a few minutes for the mixture to change color, but once it does, stay close by.
- You’re looking for the mixture to turn a dark golden brown, amber color. Check the pictures below for guidance.
- Once you’ve reached the right color and your mixture is about 380 degrees F., you’re ready to start SLOWLY adding warm heavy whipping cream.
- Using warm heavy whipping cream will decrease the chance the mixture hardens.
- Once you’ve added all the cream, you can stir in the vanilla and salt.
- Allow the mixture to cool completely before using in your buttercreams and cakes.
Once you’ve made the caramel and let it cool completely, you’re ready to make your caramel buttercream. You’ll be adding about a half cup of the caramel to the butter, powdered sugar, and heavy whipping cream.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make any of the cake elements ahead of time?
- Cake layers – The cake layers are a great element to make ahead of time. I like to let me layers cool to room temperature and then wrap them well with plastic wrap. Let the layers thaw for about an hour before you decorate the cake.
- Buttercream – the buttercream recipe can be made a week ahead of time and stored in airtight containers in the fridge. Make sure to let the buttercream gets back to room temperature and beat it again for a few minutes to restore the fluffy texture.
- Caramel – the salted caramel can also be made ahead of time. I store mine in a mason jar in the fridge. You’ll need to reheat slightly before using to soften the caramel.
How do I store leftovers?
I like to cut the remaining cake into slices, wrap each individually with plastic wrap, and then freeze. Doing so allows for fast thawing when you’re ready to eat the cake again, as well as easy sharing!
How do I freeze an entire cake?
If you make the entire cake ahead of time, which I often do, you can freeze the entire cake. Check out THIS blog post for all my tips for freezing and thawing cakes.
What is the best dark cocoa powder for baking cakes?
I’ve tried many and my absolute favorite is Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder. The flavor is rich and decadent and this cocoa helps to create a moist cake.
Other Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cakes You’ll Love
- Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
- Peanut Butter Graham Cake
- Ultimate Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
- Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
- Peanut Butter Oreo Cake
Peanut Butter Pie Cake
Inspired by my Peanut Butter Pie, this cake has layers of pretzel and graham cracker crust, chocolate cake, peanut butter pie filling, chopped peanuts, Reese's peanut butter cups, homemade salted caramel, and caramel buttercream.
FOR THE CRUST
- 2 cups (200 g) finely ground pretzel crumbs
- 2 cups (200 g) finely ground graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE
- 3 1/4 cups (400 g) cake flour
- 1/2 cup (50 g) dark cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
- 3/4 cup (169.5 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150 g) brown sugar
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 5 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) vanilla extract
- 2 cups (480 g) buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1/2 (120 g) cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (21 g) white distilled cooking vinegar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (10 g) baking soda
FOR THE FILLING
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup (250 g) peanut butter smooth
- 1 cup (230 g) heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup (62.5 g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) vanilla extract
FOR THE CARAMEL
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (120 g) water
- 2 teaspoons (10 g) light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup (115.5 g) heavy whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons (8.4 g) vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter, slightly cold
- 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar, measured then sifted
- 1/2 cup caramel, recipe above
- *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.
Garnish and Filling
- Salted peanuts
- Chocolate peanut butter cups
For the Crust
- Spray three 8-inch round cake with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper, and spray again. Set aside.
- Mix together the finely ground pretzels, graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and granulated sugar. Stir until the mixture resembles “wet sand.”
- Evenly divide the crumbs between the three cake pans (about 8 ounces in each). Firmly press the crumbs onto the bottom of each pan to create a crust.
- Set aside.
FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk the cake flour, dark cocoa powder, and salt to combine. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high until light in color and fluffy in texture, about 3 minutes.
- With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition. Continue to beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
- Turn the mixer to low speed and add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until just incorporated and then add half of the buttermilk, followed by another ⅓ of the flour mixture, the second half of the buttermilk and lastly, add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
- In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda. The mixture will bubble. Add the mixture to the cake batter and stir on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for another 20 seconds.
- Gently fold in the sour cream.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans with the pretzel crust (about 20 ounces in each pan) and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. Reminder: we’re baking the cake and pretzel crust together.
- Remove the cake pans from the oven and let the layers cool in pans for 15 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks to cool completely.
For the Peanut Butter Filling
- In a medium size bowl, combine the peanut butter and cream cheese and mix until combined. Mixture will be slightly thick. Set aside.
- In a stainless steel bowl, beat the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until still peaks form.
- Fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. Allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour to soften a bit.
For the Caramel
- Mix sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan.
- Bring the water and sugar mixture to boil over medium heat, but DO NOT STIR. (Stirring encourages crystallization). Let the mixture cook until it caramelizes into a golden brown color. It happens quickly, so keep an eye on it.
- Remove the caramelized sugar syrup from the heat and slowly mix in the cream. Pour in just a tiny bit at a time, especially at the beginning, and mix to combine. You can start adding more and more as you go along.
- Mix in salt and vanilla. Stir to combine. Let cool to room temperature.
For the Buttercream
- In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter on medium-high for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Turn the mixer to medium and gradually add the caramel. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again until the caramel is incorporated.
- On low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Remember to mix the frosting by hand with a wooden spoon or large spatula to push out the air to create a silky-smooth frosting.
FOR THE ASSEMBLY
- Place the first cake layer on a cake board, crust side down, on your cake board or cake stand. Pipe a rim of caramel buttercream around the edge of the cake.
- Fill the center with 1 cup of the peanut butter pie filling.
- Top with chopped peanuts, peanut butter cups and a generous drizzle of caramel.
- Place the second cake layer on top and repeat these steps.
- Place the final cake layer, top side down, on the second layer of filling.
- Apply a thin coat of caramel buttercream around the entire cake to lock in the crumbs. Freeze for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- After the crumb coat is set, continue frosting and decorating the cake with remaining buttercream. Use any remaining fillings as part of your toppings.
Love to try this one! Can I use plain flour instead of cake flour ?
I would use cake flour
Hey! In your tips you say: “Beat the butter, sugar, eggs (and molasses, in this cake) for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed, until nearly double in volume and smooth.”
But I don’t see molasses in the ingredients- did I miss something?
No you didn’t. I have no idea where that came from!
Could I use Dutch process cocoa for the cake? I can’t find a good dark cocoa in my little town and don’t have time to wait on can Amazon order.
It says in the assembly to put the top layer top side down- but I’m looking at the pictures and it seems like the crust is still on the bottom. All of the layers in this cake should be right side up, correct?
Yes crust side down!
Looks like I found my next Cake by Courtney cake to make! This looks incredible and will be perfect for my husband’s birthday. If I wanted to make this as a 6” cake could I divide everything by four? I’m actually considering a 3 layer 6” cake and using the remainder to make cupcakes. Thank you!
I made the cake recipe and the cake is very dense. Is that how it is supposed to be or did I do something wrong?
It’s a denser cake! You’re all good
Is there a cake recipe to try if you wanted a moister less dense cake?
Made this cake for my husband’s birthday. Only change I made was to make a Swiss meringue buttercream instead of an American buttercream. The peanut butter filling and caramel and caramel buttercream are delicious. If I made this cake again, I would try using an oil based chocolate cake. This is the second time I’ve tried making a butter base chocolate cake and just find them to be dry. Also, while the crust is good I think I would prefer either a pretzel crust or graham cracker crust not combined. Thank you for all your delicious cake recipes, I truly enjoy reading about your creations and trying them out!
I made this cake yesterday and it is absolutely delicious! I am new to cake baking and it did take me a while to make all the components but it was worth it! I’m sure next time I’ll be faster since I have an idea of what I’m doing now. I made three 9″ layers because I don’t have 8″ pans and this cake was massive! I believe I got about 40 sizeable servings from this cake. It was a messy cake to cut and definitely needs to be chilled properly to make it easier but 100% would make it again. When I tasted the cake scraps by themselves (I cut the domes off a bit) I thought the cake might be too bitter but when it comes together with all the other components in the cake it is heavenly! Love it!!!!
Can you freeze a cake with a crust? I need to make the layers in advance and I am wondering how the crust layer holds up once it is thawed.
Yes you can!
I’m planning on making this next week, but I only have 9 inch pans. So I need to make a double batch of everything to make this work?
You can keep it as is and just use two 9-inch pans or you can use three and have slightly shorter layers, but I wouldn’t double everything.