the ultimate chocolate peanut butter cake

the ultimate chocolate peanut butter cake

Can I let you in on a little secret? Baking brings out the perfectionist in me. I have very high standards for how things look, especially if it’s going to end up on my blog. And it was especially important to me that this cake look perfect. Why? Because this is one of my favorite cakes, right up there with the chocolate raspberry cake.

making the ultimate chocolate peanut butter cake

The first time I made this cake, way before I started blogging, it looked perfect. Just gorgeous. And then when I made it for the blog last week, well, it was ok, but it wasn’t up to my standards. I let the chocolate ganache topping cool too much (what can I say, our apartment is sadly a refrigerator in the winter) before pouring it on the cake and ended up having to spread it rather than letting it drip down the sides. Did it change how the cake tasted? No, not at all. But it mattered to me. I wanted the cake to look perfect. I need everything I can to get you to get into your kitchen to start making this because I’m convinced the world would be a much happier place if everyone could just get a slice or two of this cake. It is that good.

the ultimate chocolate peanut butter cake

That’s why this past weekend, I headed to the kitchen and made it again. It wasn’t exactly a hardship, because making it again meant that we got to have some cake and eat it too. The chocolate layers are rich and moist and perfect. The peanut butter cream cheese frosting is smooth and decadent. And the chocolate ganache on top with just a hint of peanut butter? Come on, how can this possible go wrong! This cake is not only stunning, it is good. It is really, really, really good. And insanely rich and decadent, which is why my coworkers will be enjoying some of this cake tomorrow (otherwise, Joseph and I will have major belly aches).

the ultimate chocolate peanut butter cake

When I made this cake last week (you know, the cake I was so embarrassed of I couldn’t take any pictures of it), it was for a birthday bash at my in-law’s house. The two birthday girls, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, aren’t particularly chocolate peanut butter fanatics like my brother-in-law. But I’ve made them the chocolate raspberry cake the last couple of years and it was about time to share my other favorite cake with them. I think there may have been some skepticism at first, but after one bite, the room was filled with rave reviews. One friend even said she’s not a fan of chocolate and peanut butter together, but this cake had her converted.

I’m telling you, this cake is amazing. Make a cake right now and share a couple of slices with your neighbors. World peace, here we come.

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze

Yield: Makes a 9-inch triple-layer cake; serves 12 to 16

Adapted from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes via Smitten Kitchen

This cake is seriously intense, in a very good way. Treat it with some cautious respect and serve it in thin slices with a glass of cold milk (or if you're like me and not a big milk fan, a tall glass of water).

The recipe has you make this using three 8-inch cake pans, but I only have 2, so decided to go with 9-inch pans since I have a ton of those. If you only have two, you can just bake them in batches. I like to spread the work over a couple of days, so I often make the cakes a day or two in advance, freeze them, and then proceed with the frosting and ganache on the day that I'm going to serve it.


    For the Chocolate Cake Layers
  • 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
  • For the Peanut Butter Frosting
  • 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 Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half


    For the Chocolate Cake Layers
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 9-inch round cake pans. 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 approximately 25 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. Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least half an hour, or up to a couple of days, in advance.
  4. For the Peanut Butter Frosting
  5. 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.
  6. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
  7. For the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
  8. In the top of a 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.
  9. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.
  10. Assemble the Cake
  11. 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. Refrigerate the frosted cake for at least half an hour to set the frosting.
  12. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, 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.


64 Responses to “the ultimate chocolate peanut butter cake”

  • Ben Says:

    Chocolate + peanut butter = WIN!!! I wish I was one of your lucky co-workers!

  • Jess Wakasugi Says:

    If this isn’t pure decadence, then I don’t know what is! This cake looks amazing, I pinned the recipe immediately!

  • Sacha (Eating In or Out) Says:

    The chocolate-peanut butter combination will never get old for me. Now I’m thinking about all of the lovely things on which I can slather peanut butter cream cheese frosting…

  • Adam Says:

    Tried this! Yum, yum!!!

  • Louise Says:

    This is a wonderful recipe, made it for my husband’s Birthday, and he thought it was the best cake I’ve made. I also shared it with neighbours as it is very rich and we would never finish it although we did give it a good go ha ha. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Cassandra Says:

    Made this cake for my best friends birthday and she LOVED it! Awesome recipe.

  • Jen Says:

    Hey, I’m from Germany and actually no idea what “half-and-half” for the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze could mean. I’d love to try this cake out, but first I need to know what that little ingredient is. 😉
    Hope you can help me out.

  • Joy Says:

    Wow – yes – everything in the description of this cake is perfectly accurate. I made this for my husband’s birthday, yesterday, and we are smitten. And while he loves the chocolate/peanut butter combo, I am not usually fan…however…this is fantastic. And yes, smaller portions are wise. Very glad I stumbled upon this particular recipe!

  • Susan Says:

    Made this cake over the weekend for my daughter’s birthday. She loved it!

  • Ellie Says:

    Will this cake be okay for a few hours unrefrigerated before serving?

    • Kristen Says:

      Ideally the cake wouldn’t be out much longer than 2 hours, but as long as it’s relatively cool, it should be ok for longer. The main thing is that the cream cheese frosting gets soft as it warms up, so it will be a little harder to cut cleanly and if it’s really sitting out in a warm area for a while the layers might start sliding.

  • Alicia Edgar Says:

    If I were to make this recipe for a 2 layer sheet cake, how would I go about doing that? I would appreciate suggestions. Thanks

    • Kristen Says:

      Well, it all depends on the size of your sheet pan. If you’re talking about a 13×9 inch pan, that has a volume of 15 cups according to Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible. A 9-inch round pan has a volume of 8 2/3 cups and a this recipe makes 3 9-inch round cakes. So going purely by volume, 3 9-inch pans would be about 26 cups, but of course this recipe doesn’t fill the pans to the top. You might be able to get away with one recipe, but you would get 2 very thin layers if using a 13×9 pan and they would be difficult to handle. I guess I would suggest adding an additional half recipe (keep in mind you may not use all of the batter). Just keep in mind that the layers are a bit on the fragile side – they’ll probably be difficult to work with in sheet cake size, so either have some extra hands around to help you, or find a sturdier chocolate sheet cake recipe and use the frosting and ganache from this recipe. Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

    • Kristen Says:

      UPDATE: My mother-in-law made a two layer sheet cake by doubling the cake recipe, but she kept the frosting and the ganache recipes as is. It worked out very well!

  • Christina Says:

    I have made this cake 2 years in a row for my boyfriend’s birthday and he loves it. It will be one of the cakes served at our wedding and I am going to make it 4 layers for a 10-8-6 cake. When I made the test round, I froze cake for 1 and 2 weeks. I was worried since I used half applesauce with the oil, but it undetectable after 1 week frozen and after 2 weeks I was the only one who could tell it had been frozen. This recipe is a keeper. I also use 1/2 the sugar in the cake, neufatchel for the cream cheese, 3 cups of powdered sugar instead of 5, and soymilk instead of half and half. It is every bit as rich and the chocolate is more pronounced with the reduced sugar.

  • beck Says:

    made this cake for my sister’s birthday – best thing ever!
    I do agree that for the frosting, 3 cups of sugar tasted just as good as 5, and added more peanut butter than the recipe said.
    will definitely make this cake again!

  • Amy Jean Says:

    I only have apple cider vinegar… Anyone know what the white vinegar is for in this recipie and what would happen if I used the apple cider kind instead? Or just omit the vinegar all together? Please help, want to make this now but that’s the only ingredient I’m missing!!! Thanks 🙂

    • Kristen Says:

      Well, it wouldn’t be my first choice, but if you don’t have time to run out and get white vinegar, it’ll probably be fine. The chocolate flavor in the cakes is so strong that it’ll probably beat out the flavor in the apple code vinegar so my guess is that you won’t really be able to taste the difference. Let me know how it goes!

  • Janice Says:

    Made this today for my husband for Father’s Day and we all loved it! Easy recipe, amazingly moist and rich. Thanks for sharing it. I’m sure it will stay in our family a long time!

  • Amy Jean Says:

    Kristen… Thanks for the response 🙂 I ended up having the hubs run out and grab some white vinegar, didn’t want to screw up the recipie! Came out awesome!!!

  • Alissa Says:

    Should we be frosting the cakes while they are frozen or allow them to thaw?

  • Chocolate Cake Blog Says:

    Your chocolate peanut butter cake looks so good I wish I could reach into my screen and grab it (and eat it of course) Yum!

  • Mark Says:

    I never thought of freezing the layers before frosting. I’m making the layers tomorrow night, freezing them & then frosting/glaze the next night. Serving at birthday celebration the next day.

  • Abbey Says:

    Can you please explain the logic of freezing the layers. Can it by assembled without freezing them. If you freeze them, should you thaw them before frosting the cake?

    • Kristen Says:

      The layers are on the delicate side and freezing them makes them a little easier to work with because they’re firmer when they’re frozen. If you freeze the layers, you do not thaw them before frosting, you just allow them to thaw while you’re frosting the cake. You don’t have to freeze the layers at all if you don’t want to, I just prefer to space out the steps and find them easier to work with that way.

  • tanya1234 Says:

    luv it

  • Elena Says:

    My finished cake is in the refrigerator right now! Looks delicious, I hope my dad likes it. It looks like it’s perfect for a 50th birthday. 🙂

  • Elise Says:

    I made this, wonderful! I am thinking of remaking it in cupcake form… Do you know of anyone who has tried this? Would I need to adjust the amount of frosting I make?

  • Andrea Says:

    Absolutely LOVED, loved , loved this recipe! Made this for my hubby’s birthday party and it was a hit. He has asked me to make it a “tradition” and bake this for him every year. Thanks for sharing this deliciousness with the world! 🙂

  • tanya1234 Says:

    sweeeeeeeetttttttttttttttt 🙂

  • Bee Bee Says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I baked it for my son’s birthday today and my hubby and guests loved it. When I told them I made it myself, they thought I was joking and that I must have bought it from a premium bakery in some 5-star hotel! Yeah, it’s that good!

  • Michele Says:

    Thanks. Needed the perfect way to “butter” up someone.

  • TheGrubDaily Says:

    Made this cake a few weeks ago and it came out perfect! It was certainly a rich dessert, but your recipe was spot on. Thanks for sharing and beautiful blog photos!

  • Andrea Says:

    I would love to make cupcakes with this recipe, I have made this cake about 4 times now for different occasions. But how long do you think I should put the cupcakes in for?

  • Lauren Says:

    I made this recipe months ago, thought I had saved it somewhere, but realized I had lost it! I’m so glad I could find it again, my friends LOVED it and begged for more. Thanks again for a fantastic crowd pleaser!

  • Heather Says:

    I made this cake for my mom”s birthday a few years ago. In my blog you can see my photo of it!! Love your blog!!!

  • Geri Teager Says:

    This cake is seriously awesome! I just made it and it was more work than I’m used to, but wow is it worth it! It’s just like described, rich and really, really, really good! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, it has quickly become my favorite cake, EVER!

  • Barbie Says:

    Made the cake for a co-worker’s birthday and it was delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. The cake is rich, moist and delicious. Look forward to making it again and will try out some of your other recipes.

  • Christy Says:

    Hi! This recipe looks great and I’m planning on making it for a friend’s birthday. I’m going to make the cakes and freeze them tonight, but then on Thursday I am only home for about an hour until I need to leave to deliver the cake. Do you think I could do the peanut butter frosting and layering the night before, and then make and add the chocolate glaze the day of? Please let me know if you think this would work…the recipe looks great and I don’t want something like time to mess it up!

    • Kristen Says:

      Hi Christy. That’s exactly what I would do. Make the cakes now and freeze them, frost the cake on Wednesday and keep in the fridge until Thursday, when you put the chocolate glaze on. Hope your friend enjoys it!

  • Christy Says:

    Thanks so much for your quick response! Can’t wait to make this cake, looks heavenly! (and deadly all at the same time!)

  • Melva Says:

    I tasted a peanut butter cupcake at a local bakery and I thought it was the best I had ever eaten…until today!OMG! This recipe is amazing!!! I followed the instructions to a “T”and I couldn’t be more pleased.The photo I took just doesn’t do the taste justice! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  • Merella Says:

    So excited to try this recipe! My daughter requested a “chocolate peanut butter” cake for her birthday! I can hardly wait until Saturday to start making it! 🙂

  • Merella Says:

    BEAUTIFUL AND AWESOME my daughter loved it and so did everyone else! VERY RICH 🙂

  • Crystal Spence Says:

    I made this cake for my husbands birthday and it was phenomanal!! Is sure to be a tradition! It was delicious!

  • Judy Says:

    This is OMG delish!! If you like this combo….you will love this one!! Got rave reviews from everyone but especially the Birthday Boy.
    Must admit that I was a bit apprehensive with the white vinegar and also the consistency of the cake batter which is a little thin, but it works!!
    Will add this to the top 5 cakes in my recipe box.

  • Randi Says:

    This cake rocked, made it on Friday to serve on Saturday. Great cake!!

  • Dee Says:

    Hi, I’m not familiar with the cups-things, so can anyone explained to me how much in grams is 1 cup of flour and sugar? Because I’ve been searching and someone says that its 128grams and the other says 250grams. Thank you

  • Brenda Says:

    I followed the recipe exactly, using three 9-inch pans, and it turned out perfectly. I didn’t have time to freeze the layers and it still held together just fine. It was a huge hit at work, so moist and rich. Thank you!

  • robin Says:

    this looks wonderful. Going to make this for my son’s 24th birthday! Do you beat the cake batter like you do a boxed mix? Real creamy and fluffy? What should the batter texture look like? Can’t wait to make this for him!

  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Says:

    I know what you mean… ALL my cakes come out ugly! I have no gift for cakes at all. I’ve been too embarrassed to photograph them many, many times. This is definitely a cake I would eat (no, devour!) though. Love it!

  • Lori Says:

    Help! Can you give me any advise for taking this cake “on the road”? I have to drive 2.5 hours to my girlfriends place and need to know if this can travel (fully frosted and in a cake box) for that length of time without melting…. please help! we’re leaving tomorrow afternoon!

  • Ashley J Says:

    In our town there is a cake auction every year to raise money for the fair. Everyone goes all out making their best most beautiful yummy cake. Everyone is hoping for grand champion and then that their cake sells for hundreds of dollars. I made your cake this year. It’s beautiful! The auction is tonight! Fingers crossed!

  • Mary McGinnis Says:

    Very nervously made this cake for a professional chef and baker. He Loved it. Said he would have been very happy with the results had he been the one to make it. And my husband has been enjoying the left over ganache on ice cream!

  • Mandy Says:

    I was searching the net for a good chocolate and peanut butter cake to make for my friends birthday when I stumbled upon your site. I made this cake two days ago to take to work yesterday. I used my own chocolate cake recipe since I had the ingredients and I’ve had continued success with it. I made the peanut butter frosting and ganache and YOWZA!! I thought the frosting would taste more cream cheesy, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was so smooth and rich and peanut buttery! After frosting the cake I started the ganache in my double boiler. At first I thought I had tempered my chocolate, but I put just a tad of cream in and stirred it and it looked perfect. I took it off the heat and added the rest of the cream (I used heavy cream) and whipped it and it was not only beautifully creamy, but tasted heavenly! Once spread over the top, it ran over the edges in lovely streams. I have been baking and making cakes and specialty desserts for over 25 years, but this cake got more compliments and raves than any I’ve ever made. Thanks so much for the recipe!!

  • Ron V Says:

    This cake is awesome! My wife made it for my birthday and everybody loved it. Thanks for posting!

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