10 Sep Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake // butterlustblog.comChocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake // butterlustblog.com

This cake. Can ya even handle?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake. A simple name for a very un-simple kind of dessert. (I debated using a plethora of adjectives in the name — Death By Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, Ultimate Chocolate Peanut Butter Celebration Cake — but in the end, I went with classic and straightforward, because this cake has enough flare all on its own…and I couldn’t decide between the fluffy alternatives.)

I’ve also described it as disgusting on more than one occasion, which has gotten me more than one occasion’s worth of strange looks.  But, disgusting in a good way. Ya follow?

You guys get me, I know this.

But in case you don’t, let me spell this out. I mean disgusting in a way that makes your molars shudder and your thighs immediately break into lunges to proactively burn a few calories before taking your first bite. But that’s because it’s so-fah-king good that you will take a first bite. And a second. And a third. Then maybe a sip of milk. And then repeat.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake // butterlustblog.comChocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake // butterlustblog.com

It’s Bill-Gates-kinda rich, plus shamelessly indulgent, times over-the-freaking top good.  The kind of cake fit for a celebration. The kind of celebration that one has for, oh say, a 30th birthday party. And since I happened to have a friend having one of those a few weeks ago, combined with the fact that I haven’t made a layer cake in like, a bazillion years, I pounced. (It may have had something to do with oven withdrawals as well.)

Also, one of my besties (girlfriend of the b-day boy) squeezed like 17 pounds of limes BY HAND to make homemade margaritas while suffering from a tequila hang over, so the least I could do was bring-a-dang cake. If that’s not love, then I don’t know what is. I’m pretty sure her joints are still sore.

The inspiration for this cake is, you guessed it, the chocolate peanut butter cup. Chocolate on the outside, peanut buttery goodness on the inside. Only in the case of this monster, we’re talkin’ two layers of the best everrr chocolate cake sandwiching two layers of Reese’s-style peanut buttery filling  (am I even allowed to say that?) sandwiching a layer of peanut butter cake. (I like to think of it as the cake version of a spoon train.) But then let’s not forget fluffy chocolate icing topped with a mountain of my cake-muse, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. (<–again with the potential copyright infringement, please Hershey, don’t come after me.)

So ya see, disgusting. But in all the right ways.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake // butterlustblog.com

Since this was a birthday cake I couldn’t cut into it during the last-minute photo sesh (30 minutes before the party start, me still with wet hair and in my towel), but I did manage to snap a poorly lit, slightly blurry “insides” photo after we had butchered it at the party. So while it pains me slightly to share this photo, you can check out the guts below.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake // butterlustblog.com

A Few Notes About This  Recipe:

I made this cake in 8-inch round cake pans because they’re what I have in my kitchen. You can also use 9-inch rounds, but you’ll need to test your cakes for doneness about 5-10 minutes earlier than instructed to avoid over-baking.

This is a labor intensive cake and best (least stressfully) made over two days. I recommend baking the cake layers the day before serving, and refrigerating overnight (wrapped tightly in plastic wrap). Chilled cakes are easier to work with, so this will also help with assembly and leveling, should you choose to do so. You’ll also need to let the peanut butter layers freeze for about 6 hours, so unless you plan to serve the cake at night, also make those the day before and freeze overnight. Day of, make the frosting and assemble. 

The peanut butter filling layers are best made in a greased 8-inch springform  pan. If you only have one, press the filling into the pan to mold into shape then turn out onto a cookie sheet to freeze. Otherwise, use two 8-inch cake rounds but line all surfaces (even the edges) with parchment paper, then freeze. 

I added 2 tablespoons of PB2 powdered peanut butter to my peanut butter cake only because I’ve had a jar in my pantry for ages. It’s definitely optional — don’t go out and buy a whole container just for this cake! 

Cake decorating can be intimidating, and I am by no means an expert. I’ve included a few tips below, but you can keep it simple and just stack this cake on a plate and frost with a butter knife if you prefer — it will still taste great!

Most professional cake decorators will tell you to use an offset spatula to frost a layer cake. I prefer to use a straight 9-inch spatula, but if you prefer to avoid extra kitchen tools you can just use a butter knife for  more “rustic” look. 

Instead of a rotating cake stand, I use the bottom piece of my rotating utensil holder to spin the cake and make it easier to frost all sides evenly. If you have neither, don’t worry. Just turn your cake as needed. 

The recipe instructions tell you to create your cake on a cardboard round. They make it easier to move your cake and add support. They can be purchased at your local cake or craft store (like Michael’s) and should be the same diameter as the cake pan you use. To keep it simple, you can create your cake on a plate instead.

Chocolate Cake Layer from Ina Garden
Peanut Butter Cake Layer adapted from Diana Rattray via southerfood.about.com
Peanut Butter Filling Layer adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
Chocolate Frosting adapted from Just a Pinch

Ultimate Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake


    For the Chocolate Cake:
  • butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • For the Peanut Butter Cake:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons PB2 (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 scant teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the Peanut Butter Filling:
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • For the Chocolate Icing:
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar (based on your preferred sweetness)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (or milk)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • For garnish:
  • about 3/4 of a bag of mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, roughly chopped into halves and quarters


    For the Chocolate Cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 2, 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
  • Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
  • In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  • With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  • For the Peanut Butter Cake:
  • Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and soda.
  • In a saucepan, heat the butter, peanut butter, and milk until the butter has melted and mixture is hot. Stir the hot mixture into the flour mixture until blended.
  • Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Slowly beat into the first mixture until smooth and well blended.
  • Pour into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (check it at about 25 minutes to avoid over-baking), or until a cake tester or wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • For the Peanut Butter Filling Layer:
  • Mix together the powdered sugar, peanut butter and melted butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mixture will be crumbly. Add cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture becomes a consistent workable dough. It should not be crumbly or stick to your fingers. The mixture should hold together easily when a small amount is squeezed tight in the palm of your hand.
  • Divide the dough into two even portions. Spray two 8-inch spring-form pans with cooking spray or line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. (See notes above.) Press peanut butter dough into the bottom of the pans evenly, forming the peanut butter layers. Place in freezer until frozen, about 6 hours.
  • For the Chocolate Frosting:
  • Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  • Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  • Add powdered sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of powdered sugar followed by about a tablespoon of cream. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and cream have been added.
  • Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  • If frosting appears too dry, add more cream, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
  • To Assemble:
  • If desired, level your cakes to remove domed tops and create a more even, professional-looking cake.
  • Place one layer of chocolate cake on a cardboard round and top with about 1/4 cup (a pretty thin layer) of chocolate frosting. Top with a layer of frozen peanut butter filling and add another layer of frosting. Follow with the peanut butter cake layer, a layer of frosting, the second peanut butter filling layer, a layer of frosting, then top off with the second chocolate cake layer.
  • Once all your layers are stacked, frost the cake with a very thin crumb coat layer of icing (this will help achieve a smooth finish) and refrigerate until icing is set (about 30 minutes).
  • Use the remaining icing to frost the outside of the cake then top with a mountain of chopped Reese's.
  • CakePants
    Posted at 13:27h, 10 September Reply

    Oh my. I can see what you mean about describing this cake as disgusting – disgustingly addictive and amazing! I’m pretty sure if I ask for this for my birthday, though, I’ll end up making it myself – the length of the ingredients list would make my boyfriend’s mind short-circuit. Labor intensive, yes, but oh so worth it, I’m sure 🙂
    CakePants recently posted…Mediterranean Chopped SaladMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 13:39h, 10 September Reply

      haha thanks! it’s definitely not a short ingredient list 🙂 but at least it’s a lot of repeating ingredients, right?! and definitely worth it!

  • Amanda - A Cookie Named Desire
    Posted at 13:58h, 10 September Reply

    I thought describing super amazing and indulgent foods that I have to have rightnow as disgusting was just something I did. I am so glad to know that I am not alone here. It is so incredibly disgusting, thinking about how amazing this cake is. I definitely don’t mind taking the time to make this cake. People will have to pull me away kicking and screaming from this cake…
    Amanda – A Cookie Named Desire recently posted…Healthy Quinoa Pumpkin Spice GranolaMy Profile

  • cynthia
    Posted at 20:21h, 10 September Reply

    I am in awe of this cake. Those layers, the crisply frosted exterior, that MOUNTAIN of peanut butter cups! And your “disgusting” description is too hilarious (proactive lunges — you are THE BEST). That kind of disgusting is the best kind of dessert there is!! Love this so much, Katie!!
    cynthia recently posted…Korean soy-braised tofu (dubu jorim) // a guest post for With Food + Love.My Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 09:37h, 11 September Reply

      This comment just made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks, Cynthia!

  • Thalia @ butter and brioche
    Posted at 03:48h, 11 September Reply

    I am obsessed with this cake.. it’s pretty much the ultimate chocolate cake ever. Pinned!
    Thalia @ butter and brioche recently posted…Belgian Mocha Mousse Layer CakeMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 09:37h, 11 September Reply

      Thanks, Thalia!

  • Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    Posted at 08:02h, 11 September Reply

    Off the charts … in only the best of ways! Beautiful … and all those layers of flavour!!
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers recently posted…Caramel Apple Self-Saucing Pudding CakeMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 09:38h, 11 September Reply

      Thanks, Jennifer! Definitely off the charts!

  • Melanie @ Carmel Moments
    Posted at 08:18h, 11 September Reply

    Wow! That is so amazing looking. So decadent and perfect.
    Have a beautiful day!
    Melanie @ Carmel Moments recently posted…Maple Bacon and Caramelized Onion PizzaMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 09:38h, 11 September Reply

      Thanks, Melanie!

  • Natalie
    Posted at 09:27h, 11 September Reply

    My hands still haven’t recovered from the limes, but I’m pretty sure I ran off most of the cake during our 10k last weekend. Thanks for bringing such a delicious treat to the party! It definitely stole the show. Can’t wait to see what’s next. Love you!

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 09:38h, 11 September Reply

      xoxo love you back!

  • Natasha
    Posted at 14:02h, 11 September Reply

    Whoa, this cake! I’m in love. I can totally relate to your last minute photo session, plus I hate serving a cake that’s already been cut (food blogger problems). I’m glad we got to see the innards, though!
    Natasha recently posted…Chocolate Peanut Butter SorbetMy Profile

  • Alexandra @ Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker
    Posted at 14:53h, 11 September Reply

    I honestly CAN’T even. I’ve seen chocolate pb cakes before for sure… but the chocolate cake AND the pb cake AND the pb filling AND the chocolate frosting??!! And then all those Reese’s on top!! I’m just dying for a slice, no big deal… 😉
    Alexandra @ Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker recently posted…Healthy Chocolate, Banana, and Coconut ParfaitMy Profile

  • Karen - 2Teaspoons
    Posted at 21:10h, 11 September Reply

    Absolutely incredible! I want to dive into this whole.entire.cake…now! Great photos too! I love the peanut butter cups piled on top and the peanut butter cup wrappers scattered everywhere 🙂
    Karen – 2Teaspoons recently posted…Cucumber Ginger FizzesMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 09:48h, 12 September Reply

      Thanks, Karen! The PB cup wrapper were a last minute decision but I’m super happy with how the look turned out!

  • Polly
    Posted at 06:20h, 12 September Reply

    This looks ridiculous! And UH-MAZING! Would this work gluten free do you reckon!? Because sadly I’m a recently diagnosed celiac waa!
    Polly recently posted…Holding onto SummerMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 09:49h, 12 September Reply

      Thanks, Polly! I’ve never made either of the cakes GF but I don’t see why they wouldn’t work with an all-purpose GF flour mix! If you try it let me know how it turns out!

  • Elizabeth @ SugarHero.com
    Posted at 17:53h, 14 September Reply

    Ooohhh, girl, I cannot even handle it! I am so all about giant desserts and over-the-top-cakes and chocolate and peanut butter and you have hit allll of my buttons with this cake! We are seriously dessert soul mates.
    Elizabeth @ SugarHero.com recently posted…Brownie Bread PuddingMy Profile

  • Jessica @ Sweet Menu
    Posted at 18:55h, 14 September Reply

    I have no words! This cake looks INCREDIBLE!

  • Kelly @ Trial and Eater
    Posted at 11:14h, 16 September Reply

    This dessert was practically made for me. I mean – did you, did you make it for me?? If so, we’re now best friends.
    Kelly @ Trial and Eater recently posted…Grown up grilled cheeseMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 12:32h, 16 September Reply

      Just for you, Kelly!! BFFE 😉

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  • Deliciousmother
    Posted at 13:57h, 02 October Reply

    Amazing looking cake. Just wondering, how long after the final decorations can you eat the cake? I’m just wary of the frozen peanut butter frosting. Thanks!

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 15:03h, 02 October Reply

      The cake should last for several days after decorating. The peanut butter frosting doesn’t need to remain frozen and stays quite sturdy. It’s actually the super-moist chocolate cake layers that will begin to go stale the most quickly. But if stored in an airtight container you should be able to enjoy for 4-5 days at least. Thanks!!

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  • Tracie
    Posted at 09:12h, 22 October Reply

    Hi there –

    This cake looks absolutely amazing!!! Can you make this cake without the peanut butter cake layer – just chocolate cake and peanut butter filling?

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 12:57h, 22 October Reply

      Hi Tracie! Of course, just leave out the middle layer of peanut butter cake and cut the peanut butter filling recipe in half. OR if you want a three layer cake just split the chocolate cake between 3 pans and leave the filling recipe as is. Thanks!

  • Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land
    Posted at 22:35h, 01 November Reply

    hehe! i was chuckling my way through this entire post. PB+C (particularly Reese peanut butter CUPS) are my brutal, brutal weakness – I just ate through a halloween candy box digging out all the peanut butter cups. This cake looks and sounds BONKERS … love the candy wrapping strewn about in the pics! ^__^
    Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land recently posted…Totoro Week Gone Wild: How To Make A Catbus CakeMy Profile

  • ทีเด็ด
    Posted at 01:56h, 05 November Reply

    This looks amazing !
    I like chocolate cake.Thanks for the recipe.

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  • Beeta @ Mon Petit Four
    Posted at 14:01h, 22 April Reply

    Just found your blog, and wow!! I wish I had found it sooner – it’s stunning! This cake is like the epitome of deliciousness!! I want to request this cake for my wedding…I mean, Reese’s Peanut Butter? Heck yes! I actually think they don’t serve this kind of thing at weddings for fear of having a runaway bride that’s ditched the groom for this cake 😉 Thank you for sharing the recipe, I’m definitely adding this to my must-try list!!
    Beeta @ Mon Petit Four recently posted…Quick Tips from the Kitchen: Stovetop PotpourriMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 17:38h, 23 April Reply

      Aw, thank you for the kind words, Beeta!! hahahaha love your comment “I actually think they don’t serve this kind of thing at weddings for fear of having a runaway bride that’s ditched the groom for this cake”…maybe you should just make 2 for your wedding, one for you and one for your hubby-to-be! That way, everybody wins! 🙂 XO

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  • Mary Caroline
    Posted at 07:48h, 16 September Reply

    OH MY this cake just made my morning. Anything combining chocolate and peanut butter is just a match made in heaven. You’re a rockstar for this cake!
    Mary Caroline recently posted…PIZZA NIGHT! Two WaysMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 11:38h, 16 September Reply

      Thank you, Mary Caroline!

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  • Bec
    Posted at 20:23h, 02 November Reply

    Oh my gosh YES this looks unreal

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  • Kristin
    Posted at 15:23h, 16 November Reply

    This cake just might be the answer I was looking for! College son turns 20 on Thanksgiving and just requested “a cake that tastes like ‘Reese PB Cups’ and not a chocolate cake with PB frosting, please!” So, two questions: 1) I have 9″ pans so would you make more chocolate frosting or did you have some leftover as written? and 2) were the middle layers of PB goodness enough to get the pb cup flavor or do I ditch the chocolate layers all together and go all PB cake layers? Thanks in advance!

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 16:05h, 16 November Reply

      Hi Kristin! Happy Early Bday to your son! This cake sounds right up his alley — it definitely tastes just like a giant PB cup! To answer your questions, you should be fine with 9-inch pans on the frosting front, I did have a little extra. And the PB layers pack a lot of punch, especially the peanut butter filling layers! I would definitely stick with chocolate cake layers otherwise I think the cake as a whole would be too much peanut butter and not enough chocolate to match the flavor profile you’re going for. Let me know how it turns out!

      • Kristin
        Posted at 18:32h, 16 November Reply

        Perfect! That’s exactly what I was hoping to hear. He is going to be beyond thrilled. Thank you and I will most definitely let you know how it goes! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

        • Kristin
          Posted at 18:59h, 16 November Reply

          One more thing…due to it being Thanksgiving, I’m thinking of making everything this weekend and freezing each cake/filling layer separately, then assembling on the big day. Do you think the icing will be okay made in advance and kept in fridge? Thoughts on my plan?

  • Kimberlee Earnheart
    Posted at 12:45h, 01 February Reply

    Hi!! I made your cake yesterday. 🙂 Its going to be for my boyfriends birthday. I was in the kitchen all day, ha ha! I can’t wait to try it. It’s currently in the fridge until I bring it to him this afternoon. I had such a good time making this cake!! I added a PB frosting in between layers and to fill the gaps on the sides and to make the ombré effect. Thank you so much for posting this info on the cake. Can’t wait to tell you how I liked it. 🙂 How can I send you a photo of mine?
    Regards, Kimee 💕

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 21:10h, 09 February Reply

      Hi Kimmee! How did it go?! Did he love it?! You can send me a photo either by email (butterlustblog@gmail.com) or tag me (@butterlustkatie) if you post on Instagram!

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