Sunday, June 22, 2008

Birthday Treats

My oldest son turned 14 this year. Gulp. He goes to high school next year! How can that be??

Anyway.........for his actual birthday a few weeks ago, he requested a chocolate and peanut butter cake. Today was his birthday party - a skating party - and we decided that instead of another cake, we'd try cupcakes - something a little easier to handle once we were at the rink.

I can't say that I was overly thrilled with the cake part of either of these recipes (which is why you'll find that I'm only linking to them instead of posting the full recipe here). I like a really deep, dark chocolate cake. Both cakes were fine, they just didn't wow me. I'm still going to share them because I did really like the peanut butter filling/icing for both.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

The cake was a double layer chocolate cake with a peanut butter filling and chocolate icing. It turns out I was out of regular peanut butter for the filling so I subbed natural pb and it worked beautifully. In fact, I think it might have given the filling stronger peanut butter flavor which, in my book, is definitely a good thing. I was very pleased with the consistency and flavor of this filling and would definitely use this again.

Even with 2 sticks of butter and a 1/2 cup of sour cream, the cake turned out a bit dry. Could have been user error though - my oven tends to run a bit hot and sometimes things get a little overdone if I'm not vigilant.

The icing for this cake was very different from any I've made before - it was made with just sour cream and melted chocolate - that's it. I wasn't at all sure what to expect as far as consistency goes - turns out it was pretty similar to a ganache-type icing, just not quite as rich. I'm not sure I was crazy about the "sour" flavor of the sour cream in the icing and since there are other icings that I have liked better, I doubt I'd use this recipe again. It's too bad too, because it sure was easy! So, I will keep the pb filling filed away and keep searching for a better cake recipe.

Chocolate PB Cupcakes
For the cupcakes, it was somewhat the same story. I tried a recipe from Barefoot Contessa as I often hear raves about her baked goodies - probably because she's not shy with the cream or butter. The cake this time was nice and moist - much better than recipe above - but again, the chocolate flavor just wasn't there for me.

For the peanut butter icing, I used regular peanut butter as the recipe instructs because I wanted the icing to be light and fluffy and I wasn't sure that natural peanut butter would work quite as well here. The icing did in fact turn out nice and fluffy and although the peanut butter flavor wasn't quite as pronounced as with the filling above, it was still delicious and I think perhaps the more subtle peanut butter flavor was appropriate for an icing as opposed to a filling.

One note on the cupcakes. The recipe claims it makes 14-15 cupcakes. I increased the recipe by half and instead of ending up with about 22 cupcakes, I ended up with closer to 30. I may not have filled the muffin tins as full as I could have, but they were at least 2/3 full.

Even though neither of these baked treats were exactly home runs in my book, chocolate and peanut butter combinations are never complete failures - they may not have been fabulous, but it's pretty hard to go wrong with this popular combo.

So I guess I'm now on the lookout for a rich, chocolate cake that can measure up to what I taste in my head...........


  1. If you're doing cupcakes again, I have a recipe that might do the trick! Check out dark chocolate cupcakes on America's Test Kitchen's website. It calls for bittersweet chocolate and dutch-processed cocoa - lots of rich chocolate flavor!

  2. Sandy - Thanks, I will check that out. When I can't find something I like in a basic recipe, I often check Cook's Illustrated. :)

  3. I'm sorry you weren't completely wowed by these cakes. It seems like you can't really go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter! And the cake and the cupcakes look just lovely!

  4. i remember seeing these on barefoot contessa. they look as good on this post as they did on tv. that's a complement!

  5. Great recipe! Lovely pictures too!

  6. Joy the Baker - Don't get me wrong, these were good, but I like a deep, rich chocolate flavor in everything from cake to brownies to ice cream. It really is a subjective thing...........I can be kind of picky about it. :)

    Becky & My Sweet and Saucy - Thanks!

  7. As you know, DH is the huge chocoholic at our house.

    Be sure to share when you find that deep, rich, chocolate cake. We've been on the hunt for something that really satisfies for quite some time now. We've come close... but not quite.

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  9. High School. Haha, my parents were terrified of the fact of my going to high school (They knew it meant they were getting old...).

    Now I'm graduating! Now they feel actient! Haha.

    And I'm sorry to hear that you didn't find these to be a home run recipe. But at least they were good. Peanut Butter and Chocolate are always a great combo in my book as well.

    I actually just at a Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie not to long ago. Now I want to make Cupcakes. Haha.

  10. Tarah - Hey, don't make fun of us old people. ;) Yes, that's definitely part of the reason it freaks me out a bit. But mostly I can't believe HE'S that old.

    The cupcakes definitely were good and I really liked the icing.

    You can never make enough chocolate and peanut butter!

  11. Lo - I will definitely post if I find a great chocolate cake. I don't make them very often, so it might be a while.......