Birthday cakes are a big deal in my house. My children and grandchildren know that I like to start the cake planning process long before the birthday gets here. Whether it’s making a sculpted lizard or Elmo, or a fancy cake topper that’s been molded “just so” by watching hours of you tube videos, the cake flavor is the real star of the show. A cake not only has to look good, but it needs to taste good too!
I am a lover of ALL things chocolate and this chocolate cake recipe has been my go-to chocolate recipe for a really long time. Sometimes I like to add a cup of chocolate chips to the recipe to give it that extra punch of chocolate…oh my!! So, when my son-in-love (not a typo! I don’t like the term “in-law”) asked for a chocolate chip cake for his birthday, this is the cake I made for him.
You have to trust me. This is THE best chocolate cake you will ever eat! When my daughter’s friend asked me to make her wedding cake years ago, and then proceeded to tell me she wanted vanilla and chocolate layered cake, this is the recipe I used. Boy, am I glad I did. I was approached at the reception by the bride’s grandmother who was going on and on about the cake. She said it was the best cake she ever ate and asked me if I would share my recipe with her. What an honor!! I did share my recipe with her, and I am going to share it with you too!
This recipe will make two 9″ cakes.
Ingredients for cake:
- 2 ounces (55 grams) unsweetened chocolate
- 2 Cups (226 grams) cake flour
- 2/3 Cup (65 grams) cocoa powder
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 Teaspoon baking soda
- ½ Teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ Sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter-room temperature
- 1 ½ Cups (297 grams) packed brown sugar
- ½ Cup (104 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs –room temperature
- 1 ½ Teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ Cups (300 ml) buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, add 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice to measuring cup and fill with whole milk until you have 1 ¼ cups-let it set for 5 minutes)
- 8 oz. (227 grams) cream cheese-room temperature
- 1 cup (250 grams) creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup (125 grams) confectioners sugar-sifted
- 1 cup (240 ml) chilled heavy cream
- 1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 Cups (480 ml) heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 Cups
- (510 grams) semi or bittersweet chocolate chips
- 2 Teaspoons pure vanilla extract
*Five peanut butter cups for topping (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2- 9” cake pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper. This keeps the cakes from sticking to the pans.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or by using the double boiler method. Put aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together (*stir in cup of chocolate chips) and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugars on a medium speed until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes). Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix in the eggs one at a time (mixing until each egg is blended into the batter). Add the vanilla and beat for about a minute. Mix in the melted (and cooled) chocolate. Add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk in two additions (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients) until the dry ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth. DO NOT OVERMIX!!
Evenly divide the batter into your cake pans and bake for 35 minutes (or until inserted toothpick comes out clean). Allow cakes to cool in pans then release them onto a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
While the cake is baking make the peanut butter mousse. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and vanilla on a medium speed until blended and smooth. On a low speed, incorporate the confectioners sugar and set aside. In a large clean bowl, beat the heavy cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture (adding 1/3 at a time) until the mixture is smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
While the cakes are cooling let’s get started on the yummy ganache frosting!
Heat the heavy cream and butter in a saucepan until the butter melts and the cream is hot (tiny bubbles will begin to form). Just before mixture begins to boil, remove it from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Allow mixture to sit for about five minutes. This gives the chocolate a chance to melt. After five minutes have passed, whisk the ganache until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla. At this point the smell of deliciousness may be overwhelming and you may want to dive right into the bowl but don’t…I know you can wait until this luscious bit of ganache is crowning the top of your masterpiece!! You will thank me for waiting!
To assemble the cake, I begin by torting (fancy word for cutting my two layers in half and making four layers). I just like throwing it around to impress my non baking friends. Like street cred for bakers😆.
I only used three of the layers in my cake because I wanted more mousse between my layers. You can freeze the extra layer for making cake pops in the future or you can nibble on it while you’re working in the kitchen (that’s what I like to do). That was always one of my children’s favorite part of me baking…eating the cake scraps!
Start with your bottom layer of cake on a cake board that’s the same size as the cake. Put ½ of the mousse on the cake and spread, leaving about ½ around the edge of cake. This is so the mousse doesn’t ooze out of cake. Repeat with the next layer of cake and put third layer on top. Frost the top of your cake first and then the sides with your ganache. It should be at a nice spreadable consistency. I chopped up five peanut butter cups and sprinkled them around the top. *This is just an option, but trust me, it’s a very good option!!
I hope you enjoy this cake as much as my family does!
*Coating the chocolate chips with the dry ingredients keeps them from sinking to the bottom when baked.