A very tall chocolate cake

August 6, 2011 § 3 Comments

I’ve always loved to read food blogs and that is what inspired me to start my own. The Smitten Kitchen was the first food blog that I started reading. Seeing her beautiful pictures and delicious recipes really pushed me to a whole other level of cooking. I found myself with dozens of tabs open, all of recipes I was dying to try. In the last two years I have made a large number of the recipes seen on smitten kitchen and I have rarely been disappointed by them. Since I’ve been writing my own blog I’ve been seeking food inspiration in other places aside from the blogs I typically read. I want to find my own style and try new things aside from those that I see on other people’s blogs but every once in a while I see a recipe that I can’t resist. This chocolate cake was one of those. Sam and I made this right around the time of his graduation. We figured that the momentous event deserved celebrating, and what a better way to celebrate than with a huge chocolate cake with peanut butter cream cheese filling, yeah you heard me correctly.

I had never made more than a two layer cake before, not an unreasonable statement. I mean how often can you justify making a three layer cake. Because of this I only had two cake pans, not three. This is the point in the story where I should tell you that we gave up on the tall cake idea and made a smaller one instead. That is not how it went. Once we realized we didn’t have the right equipment to make the cake we ran out to buy another cake pan. At least we can say that we only spent two dollars. Gotta love the dollar store and their disposable cake pans. Equipped with the correct number cake pans we were ready to bake.

When the cakes came out of the oven you wouldn’t believe our surprise. The crack in the universe was on our cake. Two parts of space and time that should never have touched!! (If you are not up to date with your Dr. Who, ignore the following paragraph.)  We only managed to get a crappy cell phone picture of it, but we have proof nonetheless! We had been watching the latest season of Dr. Who at the time, and we were ecstatic and freaked out to see the crack in Amy’s wall on our cake. At least we didn’t disappear when we went near it and it did serve as a lovely crevice to stuff frosting in.

I hope you can find a celebration to justify making this cake. It will be worth your while, even if you have to run out to the store for more cake pans. The chocolate cake recipe is a great base for other delicious variations. A nice raspberry filling, or a plain ‘ole chocolate filling would work great with this cake as well. I think I’ll have to try and make this with a dulce de leche filling next time–that was the only cake filling I knew growing up in Nicaragua, and it was a darn good one.

Chocolate cake with Peanut Butter filling

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


For the cake:
3 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
3 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups freshly brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature

For the filling:
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)

For the frosting:
1/2 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter


For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch square cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and buttermilk and blend on low until moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Whisk the eggs and coffee together, and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only until blended. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans; each pan will take about 3 1/4 cups of batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Carefully turn them out onto wire racks and allow to cool completely. Remove the paper liners only when they are cool. If you are a perfectionist, this is when you can cut the tops of the cakes off so that you have a perfectly even surface on all of the cakes.

For the filling:
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.
Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended. Add 1/2 the filling on top of the first cake layer. Then place the second cake on top of the first. Then add the other half of the filling to the second cake, carefully smoothing over. Add the last cake on top of that, then you are ready for the frosting.

For the frosting:
Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency). I found that stirring this over a bowl of ice water did a great job of cooling it off quickly and evenly. Spread frosting over the top and sides. Cut into thin slices because this is a tall cake and you won’t need too much.

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