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Chocolate Cake + Peanut Butter Frosting

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
If there is one flaw about living in New York (you must be laughing because if you read this, you know there are MANY flaws) it is that it is ridiculously hard to staY content with what you have. I say ridiculously hard because it is something I’ve struggled with time and time again, but it is even more of a struggle when you are living in a city that is full of everything your heart desires. Clothes! Art! Food! Shoes! Apartments! In fact, I think that New Yorkers are always searching for something. You kind of get used to that nagging unsatisfactory feeling that lies at the pit of your stomach, and suddenly you forget what it’s like to be completely satisfied. But, when it happens, it’s amazing. It’s like opening your eyes again.

I recently had that “Aha!” moment about a month ago. I was sitting on my floor with my close friend who was in town from California. After walking around the city (5 miles +), we sat down to a feast of  bread, cheese, pasta, and this cake, sitting in the fridge ready to be devoured. And I couldn’t have been more happy. Even in my small, dirty apartment, in this complicated, stressful city. Contentment hit me in the face and I haven’t been the same.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I don’t know if it was the cake or the company but whatever it was, I am on the hunt for it again. I’m not sure if I will find it here because there is just so. much. going. on. in. New. York. Whether or not you realize it, it’s hard not to be envious of other New Yorker’s lifestyle. With the huge apartments and fancy clothes, I yearn for the “good” life more often than not. But in that one moment of complete satisfaction, my materialistic desires left and it felt amazing to be without that frantic desire to KEEP GOING. I experienced a brief moment of satisfaction while sitting at coffee shop with friends in my hometown but it was fleeting, probably because my mind has been slightly scattered.

My question for you is: How do you find contentment? Is it as hard for you as it is for me? And, once you’ve found that deep peaceful state, how do you keep it?

Well, anyways… This cake, with its rich frosting and decadent flavor, is a dream to eat and serve. I used my trusty chocolate cake recipe that is sturdy enough to hold piles of frosting but soft and moist when served. I found a delicious peanut butter frosting that is hands down one of the best tasting frostings I’ve ever made. Salty, sweet, and not too soft. Honestly, you need to try it if you are looking for a buttercream alternative. My favorite part of the cake? Sinking my teeth into the Trader Joes mini peanut butter cups and creamy frosting.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Adapted from: Gourmet- March 1999, Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients:
For cake layers:
3 oz. Fine-Quality Semisweet Chocolate Such As Callebaut
1 ½ cups Hot Brewed Coffee
3 cups Sugar
2 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
1 ½ cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Not Dutch Process)
2 tsp. Baking Soda
¾ tsp. Baking Powder
1 ¼ tsp. Salt
3 large Eggs
¾ cup Vegetable Oil
1 ½ cups Well-Shaken Buttermilk
¾ tsp. Vanilla

For the frosting:
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, not organic or all-natural

Directions:
Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.
Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make the frosting:
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended. At this point, you can chill the frosting in the fridge until ready to frost. Let frosting come to room temperature before frosting cake.

Assemble the cake:
Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate.
Spread 1/3 cup of the frosting evenly over the top. Place the second layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. I recommend doing a crumb coat first where you spread a very small amount of frosting down the sides and over the top of the cake. Once you apply the first layer of frosting, let the cake sit for 15 minutes, allowing the cake and frosting to firm. After chilling, you can use the rest of the frosting for your cake. Decorate the edges of your cake with mini peanut butter cups or other cake decorations.
Once assembled, the cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

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October 19, 2011 - 5:52 am

Colleen - i don’t think nyc has *that* many flaws, but to each his own. i think staying content involves a good home and calming moments, like what you talked about. my apartment is little but i love it because it’s mine, and relaxing there takes me away from the city. and if i can relax there with a friend over a wonderful slice of cake like this, i know i’ll be just fine. thanks for sharing a great recipe.

October 19, 2011 - 7:22 am

Miss Minty - It’s difficult to ignore (or at least let it in one eyeball and out the other?) the visual onslaught of cities and all the Stuff in them. I struggled a bit with this exact problem when I lived in Philadelphia (and consequently have some credit card debt to show for it). It took moving several times in less than a year to make a change in how I viewed Stuff and my accumulation of it. I’m by no means “cured”, but now that I have pared down a lot AND I have a better idea of Things are important and which ones are not, it’s much easier.

Oh, and the cake looks divine. It’s already on my Pinterest!

October 19, 2011 - 9:02 am

Bianca @ Sweet Dreaming - This looks so amazing :) I love anything chocolate/peanut butter. Love your blog!

October 19, 2011 - 9:18 am

Lindsay_NYC - I love NYC with all my heart but I do agree that it makes you want EVERYTHING.

That cake looks divine! Super chocolatey and rich looking.

October 19, 2011 - 6:03 pm

Ashleymanila@gmail.com - This is my 3rd year living in NYC, and while I’m still figuring it all out – good friends, and good food really really make a huge difference in my happiness. It seems like that is the same for you – stick with it :)

October 20, 2011 - 6:54 pm

Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen - peanut…butter… (drools) This cake look perfect…

October 21, 2011 - 1:57 pm

Sarah - I agree with Colleen; I think the place where I am most content involves a home. When I use the word home I do not mean an actual building; I define home as being surrounded by the people you love. I think as long as I am with people I love I am content, especially if I have any sort of treat like this cake!

October 24, 2011 - 8:05 am

Ashley - Yum!
And I completely agree re New York–I don’t love that it makes me covet expensive things (especially apartments). The positive in Aron and I have come up with: life is never static when you are pushed to keep looking toward the next best thing (but it clearly has its downsides, too).

November 6, 2011 - 11:00 am

Claudia Choi - I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a while, I plan on making it for my bf’s birthday in 2 weeks! Got any tips left? The only other cake I’ve tried to assemble was a red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and that frosting turned out so lumpy!

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