I’ve recently changed ‘favorite chocolate cake’ recipes – I borrowed, doubled, and slightly modified one from @thescranline, and it’s *amazing.* Also a tad less labor-intensive than my prior favorite. Score! Check out Nick’s site and his Instagram feed if you haven’t already; he does some incredible work!
Of note…you’ll need either a kitchen scale to measure ingredients in grams OR – you can use this fancy ‘grams to cups converter’. Or just use the conversions I ballparked for you. You’re welcome!
350g all purpose flour (roughly 2 ¼ c)
450g caster sugar (roughly 2 ¼ c)
100g cocoa powder (roughly 1 ¼ c)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature
350ml buttermilk (about 1 ½ ; buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
2 t vanilla extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients and no lumps of butter are visible.
Next, add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.
Fill the three pans evenly – I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part, and each of mine weighed out to about 550g. Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans, and cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
To fill the cake with candy, use a glass or medium-sized biscuit cutter to remove center from two of the three cake layers.
This is a great time to start prepping your frosting and ganache for the filling and drip!
Peanut Butter Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
1 cup (8oz) creamy peanut butter
6-7 cups powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; beat in peanut butter until thoroughly combined. Slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency.
Chocolate ganache (for drip):
6 oz (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
6 oz (3/4 cup) heavy whipping cream
Meanwhile, make your ganache. Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Place whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to a boil over medium/low heat. Pour over chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and silky. (If desired, this can also be done in the microwave – combine ingredients and microwave on half power in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until smooth).
– 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles) or an 8” acrylic cake disc (I started using these so I wouldn’t waste so many cake circles!)
– Large piping bag & tip – I use this set of reusable large bags & tips more than almost any of my others!
– 1 bag Reese’s pieces candy
– 24-30 Reese’s peanut butter cups
– small piping bag or drip bottle or spoon for adding your chocolate ganache drip
– Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula/plastic spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper – not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
This peanut butter frosting recipe has an odd texture compared to buttercream frostings, and I found plastic knives, spatulas, and scrapers worked a little better than my metal ones to spread/smooth the frosting! No idea why, but they do.
Once your cake layers are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler.
Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cored cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting. Fill the cored center with Reese’s Pieces candy and quartered Reese’s cups (I think I used 4 or so per layer).
Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers, and add the un-cored cake layer on top.
Now you’re ready to crumb-coat . If you’re unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it’s just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I used a small plastic knife and plastic bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
Okaaaay……the drip! When your ganache has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping bag. A spoon will work if you don’t have either of those, I’ve just found spoons to be a tiny bit more difficult to work with.
Slowly drizzle ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let ganache fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Return cake to the fridge or freezer to set the drips.
Pipe peanut butter frosting in swirls around the upper rim of your cake – I used the large star tip from the piping tip set that I linked above – alternating with Reese’s cups. This will help hold the candy on top in place! Pile Reese’s pieces candy and more quartered Reese’s cups on top of the cake – I mounded mine a bit so they would show over the frosting/Reese’s cup rim. I also added some more candy to the base of the cake (this is optional, but I liked the color it added to the cake base).
Annnd you’re done! Step back and admire your kick-butt cake!