Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Change for the Better: Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

Sour-Cream Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache: if you think that's a mouthful, you should taste this cake.

I like dependability in a recipe. I like knowing the outcome is going to be exactly as good as it was the last time. Although my culinary training helps me deal with most curveballs thrown my way, I don't like surprises when I am in the kitchen.
For years I've had a chocolate cake recipe as trusty as an old friend. You've seen it in the form of wedding cakes, mini cupcakes and baby shower cakes. It's an adaptable one-bowl chocolate cake, easy to prepare and always comes out moist and delicious.
However, as reliable as that cake may be, it's a tad boring, and today I'm tossing out the recipe because I've fallen in love with something new.

Yep, my old standby chocolate cake has been usurped by this irresistible Sour-Cream Chocolate Cake. This cake proves that change can be good, even great! First spotted over at Smitten Kitchen, it was love at first sight and all I needed was an excuse for that first bite. Fortunately I didn't have to wait too long for a birthday to come up and a gang of us demolished this cake in a matter of minutes. I didn't even get a photo of a slice. Guess I'm going to have to make it again soon to get one, because it's a gorgeous layer cake.

OK, so peanut butter lovers out there--watch out! This cake will knock your socks off.
Here's how it comes together: Three ultra-tender, very dark rounds of sour-cream chocolate cake are layered with a sweet and salty cream cheese/peanut butter frosting. The towering masterpiece is covered with more of this decadent frosting, then smoothed and chilled. Meanwhile, dark chocolate and more peanut butter is melted into a rich ganache, which is then drizzled, nay, slathered, over the top of the layer cake. How does that sound?

As Deb puts it, this cake is intense. A small slice is sufficient and although the recipe says it serves 12 -16, I pleased about 24 people with it.
For another occasion I turned this recipe into cupcakes and they were great. (pictured below) I dipped a few in the glaze, but mostly just decorated them with the peanut butter frosting. In cupcake form, these treats pack quite the wallop and if you are trying to diet before the holidays, watch out as they could become your latest vice!

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
recipe from:
Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
inspired by: Smitten Kitchen (thank you, thank you!)

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake; serves 12 to 16-generously.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inc
h round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the
vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (These cakes are very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
Once the cake is fully frosted, chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.
5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle if desired

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and
fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still


Angelica said...

Oh my... Don't really know what to say, other than, again, oh my...
I think I could marry that chocolate cake, though. No, really, I could. It looks so delicious!

Anonymous said...

i second that, it looks amazing!

Anonymous said...

What could be better than peanut butter and chocolate? I think I am baking for two birthdays in the next couple of weeks and may have to give this one a try.
YAY!!! :)

kickpleat said...

wow, that looks intense in the best possible way!

test it comm said...

That cake looks so good with the chocolate dripping down from the top!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter but have only cooked with it once. Some Nigella recipe for sauce from Nigella Express last year.

Shame I'm dieting! Dirty word I know!

RecipeGirl said...

Frosting AND ganache??? Heaven for this frosting girl :)

Anonymous said...

I recognise that cake! I made it for my husband for father's day.
You can see mine here:

Maybe not as refined as yours, but still very delicious!

Cheryl Arkison said...

Oh, that makes me want to cook with peanut butter. This potential nut allergy is killing me, but better that than my kid.

Brilynn said...

That cake is such a showpiece! Looks amazing!

Deborah said...

I've been drooling over this cake since I saw it on SK - I think I really need to try it now!

Aimée said...

Hi Angelica- Writing your vows would be effortless at any rate.

Hi Anon- Many thanks!

Hi Michelle- It's really easy and your guests will freak.

Hi Kickpleat- You said it!

Hi kevin- Thanks.That takes a lot of skill.;)

Hi Amanda- good luck with that. I admire your stamina!

Hi Recipe girl- It wasn't my idea....but it works!

Hi LaMammina- It looks gorgeous! I'm sure he loved it.

Hi Cheryl- Yikes. Sounds serious.

Hi Brilynn- Yep, it kinda steals the show.

Hi Deb- Just do it! :)

LyB said...

I love that pic where you're spreading the ganache over the cake. Truly mouthwatering.:)

Jerzee Tomato said...

I do this but with banana cake
The peanut butter and chocolate and banana is a great combination.
It still looks great and it is freaking unreal good.

Emily said...

Wow! This cake looks incredible! I'm going to have to remember this recipe.

Maria said...

I love the chocolate on top!! That is one mighty cake!

Court said...

This looks like the dangerous kind of cake that I could eat all myself given a few days alone with it....

Helene said...

Gorgeous, tasty and amazing...from the inside out! Love it!

Anonymous said...

Your photos are mouthwatering and this recipe sounds absolutely fabulous! What a gorgeous cake!

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing that cake over at Smitten Kitchen. Your looks almost too good for words!

Aimée said...

Hi Lyb- Welcome back!I have Danny to thanks for that shot.

Hi Jerzee Tomato- I get what you're saying and I think I would like it too.

Hi Emily- It's here when you need it.

Hi Maria- Thanks. The chocolate really makes it.

Hi court- You and me both

Hi Helen- Thanks for stopping by, wish I could have shared a slice with you.

Hi Megan- Why thank you and welcome to Under the High Chair.

Hi Joy- I know you have a soft spot for peanut butter and chocolate. :)

Ingrid_3Bs said...

Everytime I see that cake I say the same thing, WOW, what a good looking cake! In your case it's also good looking cupcakes. I like how the frosting is dipped in the chocolate as well!

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

OH! SCRUMPTIOUS!!! I cannot wait to give this cake a go!
Simply wonderful!
I would love to have a piece with my coffee RIGHT NOW!

Claudia said...


What a cake? Simply beautiful. Looks perfect from here!


Aimée said...

Hi Ingrid- Look up 'showstopper' in the dictionary and this cake is there!

Hi Jill- Hope you give it a try!

Hi Claudia- Thanks!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Oh my gosh, that cake is amazing. I know 5 people who would be my slaves-for-life if I made this cake.

Y said...

WOw and wow! What a cake! :)

Anonymous said...

I am speechless. I can only say one word... WOW.

Olivia said...

I love the chocolate-covered frosting! How innovative

Lisa said...

I have made this cake many times also--always to rave reviews (via SK and Sky High Cookbook). And I have make the cupcakes too--one way to get the ganache in there is to use an apple corer to make a hole in the cupcake and then to pour it in the center. YUM! Yours look more beautiful, but this way might be easier.

Jerzees said...

cake looks really eye candy, and choco dipping looks delicious..

Unknown said...

I made this cake about a year ago and it was fabulous! I would like to use the recipe for cupcakes, but what would I change the temp. and bake time to, and how many cupcakes would it make? Thank you!!


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