This knock-out Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting is a total party game-changer. With rich, decadent chocolate cake layers, a fluffy peanut butter frosting and crushed pretzels, this is salty and sweet and all things heavenly.
This chocolate cake is seriously delicious and includes all the best things like deep, rich chocolate cake layers. A fluffy, silky cream cheese peanut butter frosting. Plus, I’ve added a few extra goodies to take this cake to the next level — like chopped Reese’s cups, salted pretzels and a drizzle of my Homemade Chocolate Syrup on top. It’s so indulgent.
The best thing about this chocolate peanut butter cake extravaganza is no special ingredients or tools are needed! It’s quick to whip together and it embraces the an over-the-top style making it an ease to decorate.
Chocolate Cake Ingredients
- All-purpose flour
- Cocoa powder. Use “natural” cocoa powder here, not “Dutch-processsed.” This King Arthur Flour post goes into detail about the difference in detail!
- Granulated Sugar
- Baking soda & baking powder
- Espresso powder. This is optional, but adding coffee to chocolate enhances the chocolate flavor, and the coffee is not noticed.
- Canola Oil
- Sour cream
- Vanilla extract
- Hot coffee or water. Same as with the espresso powder, using coffee brings out the chocolatey flavor and the heat of the coffee (or water, if you prefer) wakes up the cocoa powder for a rich, fudgy cake.
Peanut Butter Frosting
- Cream Cheese
- Unsalted Butter
- Confectioner’s Sugar
- Peanut Butter
Toppings and Fillings
- Salted pretzels. I used the mini pretzels twists!
- Mini Reese’s Cups
- Homemade Chocolate Syrup
Pro-tip: Roughly chop the pretzels and Reese’s cups for the inside layer for easier cake slicing.
Making our Chocolate Cake
This chocolate cake recipe comes together without a mixer, so grab a whisk and two bowls (a medium and a large bowl) and you are good to go!
Begin by whisking together all your dry ingredients. If your cocoa powder looks clumpy, sift the mixture to smooth out the ingredients. A sifter or a fine-mesh strainer works well for this.
In a separate bowl, whisk together all your wet ingredients, expect the hot coffee or water. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine.
Now, whisk in your hot coffee or water. You want this to be boiling or close to it. Using the hot coffee will not only bring out the flavor of the chocolate without adding a mocha flavor, but the heat blooms and activates the cocoa powder for a deeply rich and fudgy final texture.
Peanut Butter Frosting
To make the peanut frosting, whip together the cream cheese and butter until you have a light, fluffy base. Add in the peanut butter and confectioner’s sugar and whip until blended.
Last, add in the cream or milk to reach your preferred consistency. So super easy!
Putting Together your Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Once your cake and frosting is ready, time to create a grand chocolate peanut butter layer cake! The look of this cake is rustic, and a little over-the-top. I didn’t go for a precise, perfectly frosted and decorated cake. I wanted a crazy indulgent cake that screams, “DIG IN!”
Placing one cake layer on your cake plate, add big helping of peanut butter frosting on top. Keeping the frosting rough and wavy will help to hold your filling in place. Cover the frosting with chopped pretzels and mini Reese’s.
Repeat with the second layer of chocolate cake. Leaving the pretzels whole and making them stand up in the frosting finishes this cake with a flourish but very minimal effort. A drizzle of chocolate syrup is the literal icing on the cake.
Tips & Tricks
Use a cake strip or cut an old kitchen towel into strip as wide as your cake pans. Soak the strips (or towel) in water and wrap around your cake tin before baking. If needed, use a metal binder clip to hold the towel in place. This will insulate the cake batter as it bakes so the sides don’t set too quickly while the center continues to rise – creating an unwanted dome.
Always, always, always wait until your cake is 100% completely cooled before icing or stacking layers. This is the most common error I see people make when they are decorating cakes. If you are in a hurry, place your warm cake layers on a cooling rack and place in the fridge or even the freezer until fully cool.
Absolutely! This frosting recipe is easily scalable! Double or triple the amount of frosting as you desire!
The cake recipe, however, does not scale exactly as doubled. If you would like to make a larger cake, I would use a recipe made for a larger cake tin, like this Cookies & Creme Chocolate Cake.
I always say to skip the natural or handmade peanut butters when baking. Stick to a Skippy or Jif. Natural nut butters just have more natural oils have are not as conducive to baking.
Looking for other petite cakes to use with your 6″ tins? Try this Mini Red Velvet Cake!Print
Indulge in the ultimate combination in this Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting with decadent cake, nutty frosting and salty pretzels.
- 120g All-purpose flour
- 21g Cocoa powder, natural
- 100g Granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons Brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon Baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon Baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Espresso powder (optional)
- 1/4 cup Canola or vegetable oil
- 1 large Egg, room temperature
- 1 large Egg yolk, , room temperature
- 75g Sour cream
- 1/4 cup Buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup Hot coffee or water
Peanut Butter Frosting
- 85g Cream cheese, room temperature
- 6 tablespoon Unsalted butter, room temperature
- 200g Peanut butter
- 85g Confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1–2 tablespoons Cream or milk
- Mini pretzels, chopped (about 18-20)
- Mini Reese’s cups, chopped (about 6-8)
- Homemade chocolate syrup
- Chocolate Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line 2 – 6″ cake tins with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the dry ingredients – flour, cocoa powder, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso powder.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
- Whisk in the hot coffee or water. Separate equally into the prepared tins.
- Bake 24-28 minutes, until the cake is just starting to pull away from the sides of the tin and a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.
- Leave in the tins until cool enough to handle before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Peanut Butter Frosting: In a large bowl, whip together cream cheese and butter with stand- or hand-mixer until smooth and fluffy. Whip in peanut butter until fully combined.
- Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar until incorporated before increasing speed until fluffy. Add milk or cream a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.
- Assembly: Once cake is cooled completely, trim cake into a flat layer if desired. Top with a generous amount of frosting. Sprinkle chopped pretzels and Reese’s cups. Top with second cake layer and repeat. Drizzle chocolate syrup on top.
- Store in fridge in air-tight container. Best within two days or pretzels will lose their crunch.
- Cake layers can be made in advance and wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen in ziplock bag for up to three months. Thaw in fridge a few hours before desired to decorate and serve.