This month’s Baked, Occasionally recipe was my choice and, big shocker here, I chose peanut butter and chocolate. Because, honestly, this cake was getting made whether it was for this series or not so I might as well just do it, right? Plus, March is my birthday month so I try to fill it with all of my favorite things, two of them being chocolate and peanut butter.
This recipes creates a giant cake. I mean, I realize it has “Texas” in the name, which means it’s going to be over-sized, and I use sheet pans every day so I know how big they are but once you put it all together and actually make the cake… it’s just. So. Much. Cake. So make this when you have a party of like 50 people to feed, as it’s also pretty rich so you don’t need to cut huge slices to satisfy people’s cravings.
Quality – This will likely end up as one of my go-to chocolate cake recipes. It’s got a great chocolatey flavor, a perfectly-tender crumb, and the cake stays incredibly moist for days. It’s a seriously good cake.
Quantity – Also a con, but this cake makes A TON. It’s perfect for an office event, potluck, party, bake sale… any situation where you will be surrounded by tons of hungry people to feed. You could also divide the cooked cake into sections to stack it and make a layer cake. See where I’m going here, guys?
Ease – Another super easy recipe which is great, because I practically begged the recipe to fail and it didn’t. There are a couple of tricky things that happen here and despite my lack of direction-following the cake came out perfectly, which speaks a great deal to pro #1, the quality of the recipe.
Quantity – Like I said, it makes SO MUCH CAKE, so if you don’t have a ton of people to feed, I would probably slice it and freeze the slices uncovered until firm, then wrap them individually to enjoy later.
Ratio – The flavor of that amazing chocolate cake gets a little lost when fighting with the rich peanut butter frosting. That being said, the cake still tastes ah-may-zingggg (think: buckeye bar in cake form), but I think it would benefit from an extra kick of chocolate. To remedy this, I would either replace the chopped nuts on top with mini chocolate chips (sprinkled on while the cake was still warm so they got a bit melty) or even a top layer of chocolate ganache.
None of these “cons” warranted a “re-make” of the cake, although we had slight tweaks we would make, the cake was still incredibly delicious as-is and not a single person who endured mine thought anything needed changing, but Shannon and I both agreed that we would have liked to bring the chocolate flavor back up a bit.
And, finally, tips!
It may seem confusing that I commented on how easy the cake was to make, but also say that I almost failed in making it. This is because when you have made as many cakes as I have, you sort of know the rhythm of it – you soften the butter and bring eggs to temperature, beat the butter and sugar together, add eggs, add dry and wet ingredients, etc… Once it’s all baked you let it cool and give yourself a little break then you make the frosting. This is NOT the case with this cake.
This cake will keep you going start to finish, but the process itself doesn’t take very long. You’re going to mix your flour and sugars together in a bowl and let them hang out. The butter and chocolate gets melted together and then you add the melty butter to the dry ingredients, let those cool a bit then add your wet ingredients. That was trick number one.
Trick number two was, I set my cake aside to cool while I checked out my frosting instructions only to realize I was supposed to be frosting the cake at that exact moment. You want your frosting ready to go as soon as the cake gets out of the oven, so get to work on the frosting as soon as you pop that baby in the oven.
As you can see, both of these “tricks” would have easily been avoided had I read the actual instructions from start to finish before I started the cake… You know, like I’m supposed to do. But apparently I was having an “off” day and just tried to wing it, failed miserably at “winging it”, and then somehow still managed to end up with a perfectly delicious cake.
See how easy it is?
And Ms. Shannon, who somehow managed to make this cake while her life was packed in boxes, and even typed her post while sitting in her car (now, that’s dedication!) has her post right here!
Join us on Monday, April 4th for next month’s recipe, chosen by Shannon possibly out of either spite for me, or maybe she just wants to challenge herself while moving into her new home, with Baked Occasions’ Mega Easter Pie: A Meat and Cheese Utopia. Make that (or one of our past recipes) on your own and sharing your pic on the twittersphere or the instagrams with the #bakedoccasionally hashtag, and @aperiodictable or @wee_eats
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1?4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3?4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1?2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 6 ounces (11?2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup coffee
- 1?3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1?4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 14 ounces confectioners’ sugar (about 4 cups)
- 2?3 cup evaporated milk
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1?2 cup creamy natural peanut butter (I did, and always do, use Jif)
- 1?4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1?2 cups roasted, salted peanuts, finely chopped (optional, see note below) - I used honey-roasted
- Preheat the oven to 350°F; Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly spray the parchment and the sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spray. (I use Pam for Baking)
- Whisk together the flour, both sugars, and the salt in a large bowl, then make a well in the center of the mixture and set the bowl aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, buttermilk, and vanilla and set the egg mixture aside.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, stir together the butter, coffee, cocoa powder, shortening, and baking soda. Once the butter just begins to melt, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil for only 20 to 45 seconds.
- Immediately pour the hot mixture into the well of the dry ingredients and fold it all together. The mixture should be nearly room temperature (if it is not, wait a few minutes).
- Once the chocolate mixture is room temperature, add the buttermilk mixture and whisk gently to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven.
- Bake the sheet cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.
- Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl. (If you want to make sure your frosting is extra smooth, sift the sugar twice.)* (see note below)
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir together the evaporated milk, butter, peanut butter, and salt. Once the butter begins to melt, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once the mixture is boiling, remove it from the heat and pour the hot mixture over the sifted confectioners’ sugar, whisking vigorously to combine.
- Add the vanilla extract and whisk again for 10 seconds until fully incorporated.
- Pour the frosting over the hot cake and spread it into a consistent layer with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts (if using) over the frosting and allow the entire cake and frosting to come to room temperature.
- Place the cake in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes to fully set the frosting.
- The cake may be served straight from the fridge, or brought to room temperature first.
* Re: Peanuts - Peanuts are optional, as mentioned in the post, since the peanut butter flavor sort of drowned out the chocolate, I may recommend sprinkling mini chocolate chips over the cake instead of chopped peanuts, or both. Also, a thin layer of chocolate ganache may make a welcome addition as well, instead of the chocolate chips.
* Re: Sifting - This seems like an unnecessary step, but I promise that if you do not sift your frosting WILL be lumpy. That being said, if you sprinkle stuff on top of the frosting, no one will ever see your lumps. So, I recommend sifting, but I didn't sift and nobody said a thing because they were all too busy stuffing cake in their mouths. :)