So this fall, my parish was offering a “couples night” where married couples could drop their kids off at childcare, watch a short video, and then run off for a date with a printed sheet of questions to ask each other. The videos were lousy, but the questions weren’t bad. All sorts of fun things to dig into the past, present, and future of your marriage in a fun and enlightening way. Nothing too deep. Just the good stuff.
(And speaking of the good stuff, have you read the title of this post? Chocolate. Peanut butter. Cake. Yeah, we’re coming to that bit.)
Where was I? Right, the date night. So, with four kids and no extended family in the area, my husband and I jumped on the opportunity for free childcare. Six free nights of babysitting? Sign me up!
But we had no idea what was in store.
The first night, we went out to a wine bar around the corner from our parish. It was fun, and we really enjoyed going through the questions with each other. But the next week…oh, the next week. Life changing.
We’d seen the signs for a little restaurant that boasted wood-fired pizzas and espresso. Weird thing was, though, it was in an industrial section of our neighborhood. The kind of place where semis go to unload. We’d never tried it, but then we thought what the heck? We’re kid-free for the next 90 minutes, let’s give it a go.
What we found was a cute little bistro stuffed into the front of a warehouse. Apparently, the place had begun life as a catering company, and the restaurant was a side gig. We browsed the glass cabinets. My husband ordered a beer and some really delicious-looking mushroom thing. I, naturally, ordered cake.
Oh. My. The cake.
First of all, it was enormous. Easily enough for two people. (Don’t worry, I shared. A bite.) Four layers of the most scrumptious, sticky-moist chocolate cake I’d ever tasted. But the frosting was what put it over the top. Salty, rich peanut butter-flavored buttercream. It offset the sweetness of the cake and blasted it into umami land. (If you’re not familiar with the magic that is umami, it is this cake.)
This is not your average chocolate cake. We are talking so moist it molds to your fork. Delectable, lick up every crumb delicious.
And the frosting? To. Die. For. There should probably be a warning written in it: “Not for the subtle, the faint-hearted, or anyone who plans to go on a diet in the next twelve months.”
Because after you taste this, diet is nowhere in your immediate future. You will just keep making this cake. Again and again. It’s that addicting. Just when I think I’ve had enough of it–boom—the craving strikes again, and I have to make it. (I mean, I have to, right?)
To my allergy-friendly friends, I apologize. There are no substitutes for this one. I mean, you could use gluten-free flour or dairy-free sour cream, but then we are pretty much working with a different animal, and I can make no promises that the addictive qualities would transfer. Whatever you do: don’t replace the peanut butter! If you don’t like it, or you’re allergic, choose another frosting. And my sincerest condolences, because this stuff is unbelieeeeeeeeeevably good.
I think it’s the saltiness that makes it. Salted chocolate anything is good, but salted chocolate peanut butter? Step back, caramel. There is a new diva in town.
In all seriousness, though.
This cake will change your life.
My version isn’t exactly identical to the one I sampled on that fated date night. That is a closely guarded trade secret. However, I think I’ve come pretty close (and my husband who is an equally big fan of the original agrees). To get closer to the “real thing,” you’d have to double this recipe and put it in one gigantic pan! But if you’re ever in the Seattle area, feel free to swing by for a slice. See if it doesn’t change your life. (Just give me a head’s up so I can join you!)
Be sure to refrigerate the cake for at least three hours after frosting. Overnight if possible. Don’t worry; the cake won’t suffer (although you might from having to wait that long). The frosting is fine fresh, but chilled? Oh my word! The texture becomes ever-so-slightly grainy, which is the perfect foil to the moist, chewy cake and holy mother of all things pastry! It’s pretty much this side of amazing.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes + 5 hours cooling and chilling
Yield: 16-20 servings
for the cake:
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
for the peanut buttercream:
1 1/4 cups natural, unsweetened peanut butter
½ cup salted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar
up to ½ cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9″ round cake pans, line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, then butter and flour pans, tapping out the excess flour.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low, slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry. Continuing on low speed, add the hot coffee and stir until just combined, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans for 30 minutes then turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
In the meantime, beat frosting ingredients together until smooth with an electric mixer, adding the cream slowly until you reach a spreadable consistency. For best results, refrigerate iced cake at least three hours before serving.