My husband is a huge fan of peanut butter and chocolate, and every year for his birthday I have to come up with a new variation on the combo for his birthday cake. This year is probably one of my favorites. There’s a thin layer of chocolate cake on the bottom, topped with a no-churn peanut butter ice cream studded with peanut butter cups and swirled with fudge. Then it’s topped with another thin layer of cake, which is covered in a layer of fudge-y peanut butter and chocolate ganache. Drooling yet? Keep looking at the pictures…
My favorite part about this recipe is that each component is so easy to make. The cake is a one-bowl recipe, no softening butter or separating eggs required. The ice cream is no-churn and has so few ingredients that you can whip it up (literally) in minutes. The ganache is made in the microwave, without any worries about chocolate seizing or burning or doing whatever else chocolate does when you try to melt it over the stovetop. Yet despite the simplicity of each component, the finished cake is a showstopper! The cake freezes just hard enough to stand up to the ice cream, the ice cream itself maintains much of its softness in the freezer (no rock-hard slices here!), and the ganache is just firm enough to give you a nice bite of fudginess when you put a forkful in your mouth.
Try this. You’ll thank me.
Cake (this is my favorite easy chocolate cake recipe)
Makes one thin 9″ cake layer
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 tbs. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp. vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cups cold water
1 tsp. coffee powder
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan, and line with a circle of parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Make three wells in the flour mixture.
3. In one put vanilla; in another the vinegar, and in the third the oil.
4. Dissolve the coffee powder in the cold water (or just use cold coffee) and pour the water over the mixture. Stir until smooth.
5. Pour into the pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
Peanut Butter Ice Cream
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
2 cups whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of chopped peanut butter cups (I used the ultra-minis that come unwrapped in a bag)
1. Stir a few tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk into the peanut butter to loosen it up, then add the rest of the milk and stir until smooth.
2. Add the mixture to the cold whipping cream and vanilla extract, and whip in a stand mixer until it forms soft peaks. These will never get truly stiff, the mixture will be more like a loose whipped cream that holds a trail on its surface, but that’s fine. Don’t overwhip or the mixture will become grainy!
3. Carefully stir in the chopped peanut butter cups.
4. If making just the ice cream, freeze in a covered container for at least 4 hours, and serve. If making into ice cream cake, follow assembly steps below.
Peanut Butter Ganache
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tbs. creamy peanut butter
1. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan, or carefully heat in the microwave.
2. Add the peanut butter and chocolate and let stand for a minute or two.
3. Stir until smooth.
3 tbs. creamy peanut butter
Optional chocolate syrup/fudge (I used a jar of hot fudge, warmed just to room temperature to enable swirling)
Optional peanut butter cups for garnish
1. Line a 9″ springform pan with a parchment circle or a cardboard cake round.
2. Microwave your peanut butter in 10 second bursts until it just loosens. Transfer to a piping bag and let sit for now.
3. Carefully slice your cooled cake into two equal layers.
4. Take the top layer of cake and put it in the bottom of your springform pan, domed side (if there is one) up. This will keep the bottom of the cake level.
5. Spoon a layer of your ice cream mixture over the cake and top with dollops of chocolate syrup/fudge if desired, swirling to incorporate a little. Add more ice cream and syrup.
6. When your ice cream is a little more than an inch short of the top of the pan, level it off and add the other cake layer, bottom-side up so it’s completely flat. Press down so it’s level with the top of the pan.
7. Freeze for at least 4 hours, covered. Overnight is better.
8. Remove from the freezer and pour the ganache over the cake, smoothing out completely.
8. Pipe lines or a thin spiral of peanut butter over the ganache, then run a toothpick or skewer through the lines to make a decorative design.
9. Garnish with peanut butter cups if desired.
10. Pop it back in the freezer to set for an hour. Remove at least 10 minutes before serving to let the ice cream soften just a bit.
Turns out gorgeous, doesn’t it? Now go make it and impress your friends!