Thursday, November 8, 2007

Crunchy Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I immediately noticed this Nancy Olson recipe in the latest issue of Food and Wine. According to the article it's "the brilliant marriage of her mother's chocolate, peanut butter, and Rice Krispie-topped brownie...and Pierre Herme's 'sweet pleasure'."

Sometimes I think Pierre Herme's Plaisir Sucre is the ultimate baking challenge as so many bloggers have attempted it.

I don't really feel like trying; it seems like the kind of pastry that can be amazing and memorable in a patisserie but stressful and not worth the expense/effort at home. Still, I love all things crunchy and i've often fantasized about making a dessert involving some sort of feuilletine or rice crispie layer.

This cake recipe takes a little time, but you can definitely finish it in one sitting. It was a very satisfying evening project and i'm extremely happy with the results. It's very rich and texturally interesting. I'd definitely make it again.

Anyway, i'm going on a short tour with my band this weekend. We're hitting South Haven, Grand Rapids, Chicago, and somewhere in Indiana. Hopefully i'll take some fun photos on the road.

Crunch Milk-Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake
2 cups + 2 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp boiling water

1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1 cup rice krispies

1 1/4 pounds milk chocolate
1 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp heavy cream, warmed

1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9x13 cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk in the boiling water. Pour the batter (it will be thin) into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool.

2. Invert the cake onto a work surface. Working carefully, slice the cake horizontally. Reduce the oven temperature to 325.

3. Make the filling: Trace a 9x13 rectangle on a sheet of parchment paper and lay it on a large baking sheet. In a food processor, pulse the almonds with the confectioners sugar until they're finely ground. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the whites are stiff and glossy- about 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond mixture. Spread the meringue on the parchment to fill the rectangle. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned and firm. Let cool.

4. In a medium bowl, set in a saucepan of simmering water, heat the peanut butter with the butter and milk chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth and melted. Remove from the heat and fold in the Rice Krispies. Spread the mixture all over the meringue rectangle. Transfer to the freezer and let cool completely.

5. Make the ganache: In a medium bowl set in a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Whisk in the warm cream until smooth. Remove from the heat and refrigerate for one hour, whisking occasionally until thick enough to spread.

6. Assemble the cake: Place the bottom cake layer cut side up on a large board. Spread 1/3 of the ganache over the cake. Invert the filling onto the cake and peel off the paper. Spread half the remaining ganache over the filling, then top with the second cake layer. Refrigerate until firm, at least one hour. Using a serrated knife, trim the edges. Spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake and refrigerate to set. Cut and serve.


Patricia Scarpin said...

The cake looks wonderful - peanut butter and chocolate are great together!

Ehrrin said...

This sounds and looks awesome.

I was just coming to leave you a comment to say that I'm pulling you for the win at the Apple Festival this weekend (didn't you mention that you were gearing up for that?). I actually wrote about that/you in my blog today! But, I see you're gonna be out of town. Which is sad, 'cause I wanted to run up, taste your pie, and holler awkwardly "I'm a fan!".

But, now I see you have a band, too, and I just listened to the songs on your myspace, and they're incredible.

Will you please-please marry me, and we can live happily ever after forever?

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the band leader about dessert making being stressful. I find it rather like any artistic expression. Even when you do everything correctly and follow directions exactly there is opportunity to imprint your own version on the recipe. Then there are those of us that are constantly tinkering with the recipe once it has worked. If you are from the Southwest like me, cayenne, black pepper, or mixed ground pepper often find their way into recipes that don't even offer that as a suggested option. I often replace the vanilla flavoring in frostings with Kalhua(sp?)to enhance the chocolate taste. It must be the oppositional defiant side of me that drives this. For example, if you have the basic recipe for Russian Teacakes or Mexican Wedding cookies with the ground walnuts or pecans, butter, a few teaspoons of cayenne or black pepper, Kahlua, and powdered sugar, blend in 6 ounces of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate melted in the the batter and then dip one end of the finished and cooled cookie into a nice ganache. The semi-sweet ganache is pretty good but the bittersweet gives it more of a bite. These cookies paired with a nice cup of espresso or red wine or port after dinner is simple yet classy. The only problem is the number of cookies one tends to eat on these occasions. Oh well, Lent isn't until much later in the New Year.

Li said...

i am seriously digging the chocolate-peanut butter combo. I cant ever get enough of it.
i will try making this cake for my nephews b'day tommorow.
thank you so much for posting the recipe along with a photo ;)