Peanut Butter Smore’s Cake

Well, April has flown by. It’s crazy how fast the month passed. It probably helped a bit that in the middle of the month, I had a week off of school for Easter holidays. The week off was fantastic, mainly because Paul and I spent it in Jamaica! It was our six-month-delayed honeymoon.
Ahh, it was fantastic. Sun, sand, and all the jerk chicken we could eat! Paul even brought jerk spices home so he could try to replicate the Jamaican Jerk flavour. It’s smoky and spicy and absolutely delicious. Either way, the day after we got back was Paul’s birthday! We didn’t do too much the day of, just went to brunch with a friend, but I didn’t get a chance to make Paul a birthday cake last week.

THIS week, however, I had some time, and when I asked Paul earlier in the week what he wanted as a birthday cake (I had been asking him regularly for the last month and a half) he said “I’ve had lots of time to think about it, and I’ve decided I want a Peanut Butter Smore’s Cake.” The matter was settled.

I decided to go straight to Pinterest, because I had quite a few pins on my various dessert boards, and settled on this recipe for a Smore’s cake. I did make a few changes of my own, and it turned out FANTASTICALLY. I added peanut butter into the cake batter, which made it a little thicker, but still worked. I also made homemade peanut butter and chocolate marshmallows to use as garnish (those recipes are coming, I promise!). Paul was so excited about the concept I came up with he refused to even try the marshmallows, which were finished first. He said he didn’t want to ruin the whole cake experience.

So, this cake is a peanut butter graham cracker cake, a whipped chocolate ganache filling, homemade marshmallow fluff frosting, chocolate ganache drizzle, and homemade peanut butter and chocolate marshmallows. Of course, I also toasted the marshmallow frosting and the marshmallows on top, because smore’s. I’ll put everything below except for the marshmallow recipes, because I’ll post those a little later.

Okay, I won’t torment you any more. To cake!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch triple layer cake

For the cake:

2¼ c. flour
2¼ c. graham cracker crumbs
1½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. salt
1 c. peanut butter (creamy or crunchy works, I used half and half)
1½ c. butter, at room temperature
1½ c. brown sugar
¾ c. sugar
6 eggs
1½ c. buttermilk
3 tsp. vanilla

For the ganache filling:

12 oz. milk or semi-sweet chocolate
6 oz. heavy whipping cream

For the marshmallow fluff frosting:

1/3 c. water
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. light corn syrup
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla

For the ganache drizzle:

10 oz. milk or semi-sweet chocolate
5 oz. heavy whipping cream

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cake pans with parchment paper or Miracle Cake Release.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter until combined and fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla, beating after each addition.

Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk in small increments to the wet ingredients, beating after each addition. Begin and end with flour additions. Beat to combine, but do not overmix. Separate the batter evenly between the prepared pans, and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from pan and cooling completely.

To make the whipped ganache filling, chop chocolate and place into a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream, on the stovetop or in the microwave, until hot, but not boiling or scalded. Pour the cream over the chocolate, let stand for 2-3 minutes, then whisk together into a smooth consistency.

Place the ganache in the refrigerator until cooled and thickened, but still soft. Transfer to a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip until the ganache gets fluffy and lightens in colour, about 2 minutes.

To make the marshmallow fluff, combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan with a candy thermometer attached. Whisk to combine, and heat over medium-high heat. Do not stir the mixture any more.

In a completely grease-free mixer bowl with the whisk attachment, place the egg whites and cream of tartar. When the sugar syrup reaches 225° F, start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks.

When the sugar syrup reaches 240° F, take it off the heat and slowly start adding it to the egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Once all of the syrup is added to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium-high and continue whipping.

Continue to whip for 7-8 minutes, or until the mixture looks stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla and whip until the fluff has cooled.

 

To assemble the cake, trim all uneven edges or tops to flat layers.

Place one layer of cake on a cake stand, then top with half of the whipped chocolate ganache. Spread the ganache evenly, then top with the second layer of cake. Cover the second cake layer with the rest of the chocolate ganache, and spread evenly. Top with third layer of cake. Put in the refrigerator for the ganache to firm up.

Once the whipped chocolate ganache is firm, spread the marshmallow fluff over the top and sides of the cake. It is okay if it looks messy, because it will be topped with more chocolate and torched.

After the marshmallow fluff is on the cake, torch the fluff with a brulee torch so it looks toasted.

Drizzle the chocolate ganache sauce over top of the marshmallow fluff, and top with chocolate and peanut butter marshmallows for garnish. Toast the marshmallow garnish if desired.

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Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Okay. I haven’t made a cake in a long time, and I did so because two of my beautiful friends celebrated their birthdays and they are both a big fan of red wine!

I’m not the biggest wine fan myself, so I had a little help in choosing the wine to bake with, but if that is deterring anyone who is like me, and not a huge fan of wine, you can still make this cake! I found that the wine did not overpower the cake at all, and it added a nice flavour.


I found the recipe here, and I am quite pleased with it. I made my own vanilla buttercream instead of the icing suggested (because mascarpone is ridiculously expensive), and I’ve included that in the recipe below. It still worked very well together, but if you like mascarpone, go for it!

Enough chatter. On to cake!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-inch cake

For the cake:

¾ c. cocoa powder
1¾ c. flour
1 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
½ c. vegetable oil
1¾ c. sugar
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. red wine – I used Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon

For the frosting:

2 c. butter, at room temperature
3¾c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

For the red wine reduction:

1 c. sweet red wine
4 tbsp. sugar

For the cake, preheat oven to 350° F. Brush 3 8-inch cake pans with miracle cake release or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine eggs and oil. Add in sugar, beating to combine, until mixture turns pale. Reduce speed to low, then add in vanilla and milk.

Add in dry ingredients, mix until just combined, then add in wine and combine until smooth.

Divide batter into pans evenly, then bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks completely before icing.

For the red wine reduction, in a small saucepan combine the wine and sugar. Bring to a boil, then continue to simmer on medium-low heat until wine reduces to about ¼ c. It may take about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before using on cake.

For the vanilla buttercream frosting, in a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add the sugar 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla and salt, and beat until smooth and combined.

To assemble cake, place cooled cake layer on a cake stand or board. Top with a generous layer of icing (doesn’t have to be too thick, but should still be there). Place second cake layer, repeat layer of icing, and finish with top layer of cake.

Ice the top and sides of the cake, getting the sides as smooth as possible. The original recipe had a “naked cake” look (meaning scant icing around the sides), and I decided not to do that. Drizzle the red wine reduction over the top of the cake. Slice and serve.

 

 

Pear Cake with Chai Caramel Frosting

A friend of mine celebrated a birthday the other day, and I wanted to surprise her with a cake! I decided to take to Pinterest, and found a few different recipes that struck my fancy. I decided to make up my own cake with a few different things, so I decided on a Pear Cake with a Chai Caramel Frosting.

I told her this, and her response was “I mean the pear is a little odd… [but] I like your masterpieces they always turn out delicious!”

The frosting idea I found from this pie recipe, and the flavours sounded so delicious, that I couldn’t resist. I actually found different recipe that I put together, so I’m considering this cake an original recipe! However, I did find the cake recipe here, the base frosting recipe here, and I made a few changes to make it my own.

I have a small jar of Chai spice, and it is AMAZING. All the flavours of Chai in spice form, so I don’t have to brew tea or steep Chai tea bags in parts of my recipes when I want that beautiful Chai flavour.

Holy man this cake turned out so good! The flavour of the pear wasn’t too intense at all, just nice and subtle, but still there, and the Chai and caramel flavours worked so well together. It was such a gorgeous cake and flavour pairing. As I told the lucky birthday girl, “I’m getting cake envy, and I made my own birthday cake!”

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8 inch cake

For the cake:

6 ripe pears, medium sized
¾ c. brown sugar
¾ c. sugar
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 eggs
½ c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla

For the frosting:

1 c. butter, at room temperature
2 c. icing sugar
1 c. caramel sauce, homemade or storebought
1-2 tsp. Chai spice* (depending on preference)

To make the cake, peel, slice and core pears, and toss in a medium bowl with sugars. Leave for 1 hour, then puree in a blender.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8 or 9 inch cake pans, or three 6 inch cake pans. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add in the pear puree, eggs, oil and vanilla, and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter evenly into the prepared cake pans, and bake for 30-33, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool in pans about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream the butter until fluffy in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add in the icing sugar and beat until incorporated and fluffier. Add in the caramel, beat again. Add in the Chai spice*, starting with 1 teaspoon, and adding more if you want the Chai flavour stronger.

Once cakes are completely cool, level them, then layer the cakes with the frosting. Frost inside layers of the cake, then the outside and top. Slice and serve.

*An alternative for the Chai spice could be Chai tea ground very fine.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake

Well, I’ll admit it. I’ve never really liked PB & J sandwiches. Not sure why. I like peanut butter. I like jelly or jam… if it’s raspberry or strawberry flavoured. But I’ve never had the inclination to put them together.
I celebrated my birthday last week, and had the day off today, so I figured that I’d make myself a cake. From the get-go, I was planning a Cannoli Cake. I know, sounds AMAZING. But, I found myself on a Sunday where I really – and I mean really – didn’t want to leave the house to go get any ingredients I was missing. I was missing quite a few as well, so I decided to store the cannoli cake for another day, and look for something a little more… accessible.


I was scrolling though Pinterest and saw this Peanut Butter and Jelly cake, and thought, heck, why not give it a try? After all, it’s in cake form, and I do love cake. I changed a few things… The original recipe has all white sugar in the cake. Well, my sugar bucket was running low, and I’m not QUITE strong enough to lift up my 20kg bag of sugar and balance it just so to fill up my sugar bucket without getting sugar all over the kitchen floor. That being said, I substituted half a cup of white sugar for brown, and I’m so glad I did, because it made the cake and the frosting match in flavour just that much more.


This frosting though. Oh. My. Gosh. Sooo good! A brown sugar peanut butter swiss meringue buttercream. Oh yeah – wrap your head around that. I was definitely licking the bowl… and the spatula… and the beater… yeah, you get the picture. It was knock-your-socks-off good.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 6-inch cake

For the cake:

2¼ c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ c. butter, softened
½ c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla

For the frosting:

¾ c. brown sugar
3 egg whites
1½ c. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
6 tbsp. creamy peanut butter

To assemble/garnish:

Jam or jelly of your choosing (I used strawberry jam)
Chopped peanuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 six inch pans or 2 8 inch pans. (I used my miracle cake release.) Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until combined.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and peanut butter. Add in the sugar, and mix until well incorporated. Add in the eggs and vanilla, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add in half of the flour mixture, and turn the mixer on low. Drizzle the milk into the mixer bowl slowly, until all the milk is incorporated. Add in the other half of the flour mixture, and mix until combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Tap on the counter a few times to make sure the batter is level. Bake in the preheated oven for about 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, whisk together the sugar and the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer set over a pot with 2 inches of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160°F. When the egg mixture reaches the correct temperature, take off the simmering pot, and whisk on high speed until a thick meringue starts to form. Mixture should reach stiff peaks. Beat in the soft butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Add in the vanilla, and the peanut butter, and beat until combined into a thick, fluffy frosting. It will come together.

To assemble the cake, level the cakes so they are flat. Place one cake on the serving dish. Pipe a dam of icing around the outside edge of the cake, then spoon the jam or jelly into the middle of the icing. Place the second cake on the icing/jam. Repeat with the next layer of cake.

Once all three layers of cake are stacked, frost the sides and top of the cake, reserving some icing to decorate. (I had a lot of icing left over – I just slathered it on the trimmed cake tops for a little snack for Paul!)

If desired, pipe a border around the bottom of the cake and around the top of the cake. Fill the space in the top of the cake with another layer of jam. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts on top and around the cake, if desired.

Store in the fridge, but serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Layer Cake

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Now, this cake, my friends, is not for the faint of heart. It is not a cake that can be easily whipped up in a spare hour or two. However, believe me when I say that this cake is well worth the effort. I mean it. The finished product is absolutely incredible. Three layers of rich chocolate cake. Each layer is topped with a generous serving of chocolate ganache, which also forms a seal and keeps in a beautiful layer of raspberry filling. Finally, after assembling, the entire cake is coated in a luscious, yet delicate, raspberry swiss meringue buttercream and a chocolate ganache glaze finishes off this masterpiece.
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I made this cake for a potluck style dinner party with some friends of ours… we each made half of a meal, and then came together for a full on feast. A feast it was as well! There was elk schnitzel, a stuffed crusted pork tenderloin, awesome cheesy potatoes, maple pepper carrots, sourdough with spinach dip, and for dessert, pavlova and this cake. Like I said, it was a feast. We probably could have served six, but there was only four of us and that was fine with me.

Either way, back to the cake. This amazing concoction I got from Annie, and her recipe is here. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe, except I couldn’t find espresso powder, so I ended up buying a small jar of instant coffee, and it made no difference. The reason bakers add coffee to a chocolate cake is because the coffee amps up the flavour of the chocolate and really makes it stand out.
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If you have some time, and want to immerse yourself in a great recipe that is complex but not complicated, with multiple components that really combine to create a phenomenal finished product, then this cake is the perfect solution. I will probably be dreaming about this cake for a while.
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Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch cake

For the cake:

1½ c. cocoa powder
1 tbsp. espresso powder (or instant coffee powder)
1½ c. boiling water
¾ c. sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla
1½ c. (12 oz.) butter, at room temperature
2½ c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
3 large eggs
1¾ c. plus 2 tbsp. flour
1¼ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt

For the raspberry filling:

16oz. frozen raspberries, thawed
1/3 c. sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon juice

For the ganache filling:

8oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 c. heavy cream
3 tbsp. butter, at room temperature

For the raspberry buttercream:

1 c. sugar
4 large egg whites
21 tbsp. (1¼ c. plus 1 tbsp.) butter, at room temperature
1/3 c. strained raspberry puree
½ tsp. vanilla
Red or pink food colouring

For the chocolate glaze:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ c. heavy cream
¼ c. corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 9-inch pans. I used my miracle cake release and my bake even strips here. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa and the espresso powder. Add in the boiling water and whisk until smooth and slightly cooler. Whisk in the sour cream.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, then add the eggs in one at a time, beating after each addition. Add in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Turn the mixer on low speed an add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the cocoa/sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat everything until just incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the raspberry filling, drain the thawed berries, draining the liquid into a liquid measuring cup. Add enough water to make 1¼ cups of liquid. Add the liquid to a medium saucepan with the sugar and the cornstarch, and whisk together. Heat over medium-high heat, until mixture starts to thicken and bubble. Continue whisking until mixture is thick so no lumps form. As soon as the mixture thickens, remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice. Fold in the drained berries with a spatula. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the refrigerator. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan or in the microwave until it is quite hot, but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 1-2 minutes. Whisk into a smooth ganache, then whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until completely incorporated. Let the ganache sit to thicken to a spreading and piping consistency. This can be sped up if you put the ganache in the refrigerator for a few minutes at a time, stirring occasionally. Once the ganache is spreading and piping consistency, transfer about ¾ of the mixture to a piping bag. Reserve the rest.

To assemble the cake, place a cake layer on a serving platter. Of the reserved ganache not in the pastry bag, spread half in a thin layer on top of the cake. Pipe a thick layer around the outer edge of the cake with the ganache in the piping bag, making a well to hold the raspberry filling. Spoon half of the raspberry filling into the well. Carefully place the second cake later on top of the fillings. Repeat the process of spreading the remainder of the reserved ganache, piping a well around the outer edge of the cake, and filling with the remainder of the raspberry filling. Top with last layer of cake and place in the refrigerator while you make the frosting.

To make the raspberry buttercream frosting, combine the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl and set over a pot of simmering water (double boiler or bain marie), making sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Heat, whisking frequently, until mixture reaches 160°F and sugar has dissolved. As soon as mixture reaches desired temperature, transfer the mixer bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat together until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature (bowl should be cool to the touch). Reduce the speed and add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition is incorporated. If frosting starts to look soupy or curdled, just keep beating. I promise, it will come together. The frosting will turn thick and smooth. Blend in the vanilla and the raspberry puree until completely incorporated. Add in food colouring or gel icing tint if desired.

*To make the puree, just throw some fresh or thawed raspberries in a blender or press through a sieve, getting as much of the berry flesh and juice out without any seeds.*

Frost the top and sides of the cake with the frosting in an even layer, getting the frosting as smooth as possible. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

To make the ganache glaze, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and heat the cream in a saucepan or microwave. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate, and let sit 1-2 minutes, then whisk together. Blend in the corn syrup and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Let cool for about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Transfer to a measuring cup or pitcher (or make everything in a liquid measuring cup to dirty one less dish). Pour glaze slowly over chilled cake, making sure top is completely covered and glaze runs down the sides of the cake. Garnish with any leftover ganache in the pastry bag and fresh raspberries, if desired.