This past weekend was my younger brother's birthday. He drove down to visit from Virginia Beach, with only one request for the entire week of his stay: That I make him a birthday cake. Something with chocolate and peanut butter. That's it. After searching online and flipping through stacks of my favorite magazines I finally found The recipe. It was decadent in all the right ways, but with salty and bitter notes to balance the sweetness. Too many cakes are painfully sweet. I wanted to bake something for him that tasted like more than sugar, and this cake did just that.
To start I used this amazingly moist chocolate cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It is a very thin batter recipe, but it bakes to perfection. I also used the Peanut Butter Frosting recipe listed on the same page. However when we tasted the frosting straight from the recipe it was way too sugary sweet for our taste (probably because there was 5 cups of powdered sugar in the recipe!) so I gradually added more peanut butter to the batch to bring more salt and flavor depth to the sugary frosting. Worked just as I'd hoped! I ended up using 1 1/8 cup of peanut butter in my frosting, as opposed to the 2/3 of a cup it originally called for. I'm a firm believer in baking and cooking to taste. If the proportions in a recipe seem off to your tastes, trust yourself. It's probably your taste-buds trying to get your attention. In the end the adjusted proportions turned out perfect for us!
I decided not to use the Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze from the original recipe. There was plenty of peanut butter in the frosting (which is probably why the original recipe had a little less than what I used) but I wanted all the peanut butter in my version to be in the frosting instead. The idea behind my decision was that I wanted each bite to have a fairly even amount of sweet-salty-bitter flavors, so I decided to use a Dark Chocolate Glaze recipe instead. This recipe from Love and Olive Oil is my absolute favorite. It's been a no-fail version for me, which is saying quite a bit. I've tried plenty of other recipes that have caused me to waste way too much chocolate, which has burned or seized and gone straight into the trash. Throwing away chocolate always makes me extremely sad. This recipe is simple, fast, and reliable. Once you melt the chocolate and cream you begin adding in the powdered sugar, and the melted chocolate will turn thick, dull, and dough like... this will likely be enough to make you think you've ruined your chocolate (or in my case, full on chocolate melting panic-- every time). But rest assured, the addition of warm water afterwards brings the chocolate straight back to its silky smooth, glossy texture. I like my glazes a little thick, so I generally only add about 3-4 tbsp of warm water at the end, as opposed to the 4-5 it calls for. Again, just preference. And wow. That glaze is always the perfect dramatic (and delicious) flourish to any cake. Perfection.
Now what's a great cake without a great cake stand? I've become so obsessed with cake stands that I even started a Pinterest board to organize my obsession. The stand shown is of course made by me, right here in my home studio. This is actually the same beauty I designed and made last year for Terrain! New cake stand designs are in the works right now in my studio... stay tuned for the new Cake Stand collection which is due to launch in June. In the meantime shop mini cake stands and cupcake stands here and while you're at it enjoy free shipping with coupon code: Cakelove (for US orders only. Sale ends 5/18/2013)! Happy shopping and happy baking!