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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake for a Crowd: The Ultimate Recipe Guide

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake for a Crowd: The Ultimate Recipe Guide

Hosting a large gathering can be daunting, especially when it comes to satisfying everyone’s sweet tooth. One dessert that is almost universally loved is a rich, decadent chocolate cake. When you add the creamy, nutty flavor of peanut butter, you get a combination that’s hard to resist. In this extensive guide, we’ll delve into the art of baking a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake that’s perfect for a crowd. Whether you’re planning a birthday party, a family reunion, or a holiday feast, this cake will be the star of your dessert table.


The History of Chocolate and Peanut Butter

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s take a moment to appreciate the history and origins of the main ingredients: chocolate and peanut butter.

The Origins of Chocolate

Chocolate’s history dates back to ancient Mesoamerican cultures, where the cacao bean was highly prized. The Maya and Aztecs ground cacao seeds into a paste and mixed it with water, spices, and chilies to create a frothy, bitter beverage. It wasn’t until chocolate reached Europe in the 16th century that it began to be sweetened with sugar, evolving into the chocolate we know and love today.

The Birth of Peanut Butter

Peanut butter, on the other hand, is a more modern invention. It was first created in the late 19th century by Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson, who patented a method of milling roasted peanuts between two heated surfaces to create a paste. Over the years, the process was refined, and peanut butter became a popular food in North America.

The Perfect Pairing

The combination of chocolate and peanut butter likely began in the early 20th century with the creation of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in 1928. This pairing has since become iconic, appearing in countless desserts and confections around the world.


Ingredients and Equipment

Chocolate peanut butter cake for a crowd: the ultimate recipe guide
Chocolate peanut butter cake for a crowd: the ultimate recipe guide

Ingredients

For a cake that serves 24–30 people, you’ll need:

For the Cake:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups hot water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Peanut Butter Filling:
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heavy cream
For the Chocolate Ganache:
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Equipment

  • Two 9×13-inch baking pans
  • Mixing bowls
  • Electric mixer or stand mixer
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Offset spatula
  • Cake stand or large serving platter

Step-by-Step Recipe

Preparing the Cake Batter

  1. Preheat and Prep: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour two 9×13-inch baking pans, or line them with parchment paper.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Combine Wet Ingredients: In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, hot water, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Combine and Mix: Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Bake the Cake: Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Making the Peanut Butter Filling

  1. Cream the Butter and Peanut Butter: In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter together until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add Sugar and Vanilla: Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing on low speed. Add the vanilla extract and heavy cream, then increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.

Preparing the Chocolate Ganache

  1. Heat the Cream: In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream over medium heat until it just begins to simmer. Do not let it boil.
  2. Add the Chocolate and Butter: Place the chocolate chips and butter in a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute, then whisk until smooth and glossy.

Assembling the Cake

  1. Layer the Cakes: Place one cake layer on your serving platter. Spread a thick layer of peanut butter filling on top, smoothing it out with an offset spatula.
  2. Top with Second Cake Layer: Carefully place the second cake layer on top of the filling. Press down gently to ensure the layers stick together.
  3. Apply Ganache: Pour the chocolate ganache over the top of the cake, using a spatula to spread it evenly over the top and sides. Allow the ganache to set for about 30 minutes.

Decorating Ideas

  1. Peanut Butter Drizzle: Melt some peanut butter and drizzle it over the top of the ganache for a decorative touch.
  2. Chopped Peanuts: Sprinkle chopped peanuts around the edge of the cake for added texture and flavor.
  3. Chocolate Curls: Use a vegetable peeler to create chocolate curls from a bar of semi-sweet chocolate and arrange them on top of the cake.

Tips and Tricks for a Perfect Cake

Baking Tips

  • Room Temperature Ingredients: Ensure that your eggs and buttermilk are at room temperature for better mixing and consistency.
  • Even Layers: For even cake layers, use a kitchen scale to weigh the batter in each pan.
  • Cooling Completely: Allow the cakes to cool completely before adding the filling and ganache to prevent melting.

Storage and Serving

  • Make Ahead: You can bake the cake layers a day in advance. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
  • Refrigeration: Store the assembled cake in the refrigerator, especially if your environment is warm. Allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving.
  • Cutting the Cake: Use a sharp, serrated knife to cut the cake into clean slices. Wipe the knife with a damp cloth between cuts for a neater presentation.

Variations and Customizations

Flavor Twists

  • Banana Peanut Butter Cake: Add mashed bananas to the cake batter for a banana-chocolate-peanut butter combination.
  • Salted Caramel Drizzle: Drizzle salted caramel sauce over the ganache for an extra layer of flavor.

Dietary Adjustments

  • Gluten-Free: Substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend.
  • Vegan: Use plant-based milk and butter substitutes and flax eggs (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water per egg) in place of regular eggs.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Dry Cake

  • Problem: The cake turns out dry and crumbly.
  • Solution: Ensure you’re not overbaking the cake. Check it a few minutes before the recommended baking time. Also, make sure you measure your ingredients correctly, especially the flour.

Ganache Issues

  • Problem: The ganache is too runny or too thick.
  • Solution: If the ganache is too runny, let it cool for a bit longer until it thickens. If it’s too thick, you can gently reheat it or add a small amount of warm cream to adjust the consistency.

Baking a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake for a crowd is a rewarding endeavor that promises to delight your guests. The combination of rich chocolate cake, creamy peanut butter filling, and glossy chocolate ganache creates a symphony of flavors and textures that’s hard to beat. By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and skills to bake a cake that’s not only delicious but also a showstopper at any gathering.

Remember, the key to baking is patience and practice. Don’t be discouraged by any mishaps along the way; every mistake is a learning opportunity. Enjoy the process, and most importantly, enjoy the cake!

Happy baking!


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Ahmed Mainul

My name is Ahmed Mainul Mondal, I'm the founder of the hospitality career profile website. I'm writing blogs and news posts as per user preferences.

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