Halloween is truly one of my favorite holidays. I have so many great childhood memories associated with Halloween. Every year my grandmother, who was the type of woman who always looked for a reason for a celebration, would have an over-the-top Halloween party in her basement. I remember going to her house days prior to decorate and prepare. We would tie strings from the ceiling pipes in preparation of the doughnut eating contest. We’d tape black cat and witch cardboard cutout decorations to the walls and the mirror behind the bar. We’d fill a bucket of water so that we could bob for apples. (Those were the days when bobbing for apples was fun and not fearful–no one seemed to worry about transmitting viruses like they would today!) We’d even create a haunted house in the unfinished portion of the cellar! After my grandmother died my mom continued the tradition by having Halloween parties and always keeping the holiday fun and festive. What’s funny is we don’t really have any traditional family foods or recipes associated with Halloween. It’s more about using it as a good reason to have some fun.
I always look for a reason to bake sweet treats and there is certainly not a shortage of Halloween-centric desserts! From the moment I saw this cake on Smitten Kitchen I couldn’t let it go. The chocolate ganache seemed like the perfect canvas for a spider web and the chocolate peanut butter combo speaks for itself. I would say this is the perfect dinner party dessert. It has that wow factor and the richness means a small slice goes a long way. You will not be sorry you made this cake!
- I only have two round cake pans so I made a double rather than a triple layer. (I used the leftover batter and frosting for cupcakes!)
- Deb stresses the fact that these cakes are really soft and somewhat difficult to work with. I highly suggest you follow her advice and wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and freeze prior to frosting with a crumb coat. Return the assembled and crumb-coated cake to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before frosting with your final layer of frosting. Refrigerate again before topping with the warm ganache.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans.
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.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a 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.
To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 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.
To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. 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.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
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.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used the Scharffen Berger Chocolate I received in the swag bag from BlogHer Food)
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half
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.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.