Sunday, June 20, 2010

For Love of Cake and Dad.

My dad is an optimist in every sense of the word.

He is very outgoing. He spreads his positive self onto others and his motto is, "Life is good". He says it often, updates his his facebook status with it and the thing is, he means it.

Throughout my 30 plus years, I have learned many lessons from my dad.

From parenting: "Don't let them control you, you're the boss" and "Ignore the bad words you child says, your gasps of horror are only cues for them to say it over and over again".

To Sports: "In order to be good at something you have to do it over, and over, and over again", "The difference between losing and winning is the space between your ears" and "Never let them see you sweat, even if it is in the pool." 

To Life: :"Don't think you can drive on fumes to the gas station, it will never work. Empty means Empty", "This too shall pass" and  "No matter what happens today,the sun always comes up tomorrow."

He instilled my love of talking, encouraged my love of swimming and writing and probably handed down, genetically, my love of peanut butter. Because trust me, it's in my blood.

And by far, the most important lesson I've learned from my father is that chocolate goes better with peanut butter.

Smitten Kitchen must have gotten that message too.

She makes a mean Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. So mean, this is the second year we've made it for Father's Day and it just might become an annual event. I love baking and this cake is easy. It's moist and delicious. It's chocolaty enough not to send you over the edge and just the right amount of peanut butter to make you want more.

This recipe and it's directions are entirely Smitten Kitchen.

I've changed nothing about it, it's perfect.

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

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake.
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

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-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 30 to 35 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. (Deb note: These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)

4. 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. (Deb note 1: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Deb note 2: Once the cake is fully frosting, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.)

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. 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. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Frosting (Makes about 5 cups)

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)

1. 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.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of d 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.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Check out Smitten Kitchen for information on this recipe and many, many other great ones.,


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I came over for a peek at yours but have to stop looking now because I MUST GO MAKE THIS CAKE!

  2. Thanks for stopping by! The cake is awesome and dangerous, but awesome!

  3. I come here to visit and I see cake!! I mean really-we might be twins.:) And your dad was most certainly schooled in the same way my mom was. I can hear her say some of his quotes.
    So excited to connect with your Circus.


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