“Naked” Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

We all knew this would happen.

After giving up sweets for forty days--albeit failing miserably by eating chocolate muffins for breakfast and justifying copious consumption of funfetti cake dip--you knew I was going to break my sugar fast with the most ridiculous, indulgent, calorie-laden dessert ever.

Not only was today Easter, and thus the celebratory-end-of-lent splurge, it was also the weekend we were celebrating the birthdays of my chocoholic mother and sweet-toothed husband.  Excessive chocolate and peanut butter was necessary.

I've had the recipe picked out for several weeks after watching an episode of Barefoot Contessa.  It was Ina and Jeffery's anniversary, so Ina was going all out, per usual, including this fabulous tiered chocolate buttercream cake, which is actually a small wedding cake.

The original recipe calls for nine sticks of butter. NINE.

Yet when I pulled up the recipe, I was surprised to see it said 8-10 servings. One stick of butter per person?  Yikes!

To get our chocolate fix without giving everyone diabetes and/or heart disease, I decided to halve the chocolate buttercream icing and alternate the layers with peanut butter frosting from Joy the Baker's cookbook.  To show off those different layers and cut a few extra calories, I did not ice the sides, inspired by this post on naked wedding cakes on Snippet and Ink.

The end result was seven sticks of butter, along with a substitution of of fat-free Greek yogurt for the sour cream, but I am adamant about the fact that this cake serves at least sixteen people. I might even recommend halving the cake recipe if you're not cooking for a crowd.

This cake is a labor of love.  I had to bake it in two batches, as the batter filled up four of my eight-inch cake pans.  Making two different types of icing is a little bit insane, and I'm glad my sister was in the kitchen to help me assemble everything.

That being said, this is a fantastic weekend celebration cake and totally worth making for someone you love.

Also, have you noticed how ridiculously cute Ina and Jeffery are?  They have been married forty-five years!  At one point on the show while making this cake she said, "I can't wait to see Jeffery's face when he sees this....although I always get excited to see his face." I want to be them when I grow up.

Happy Easter, friends!

“Naked” Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups good cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 cup plain greek yogurt, at room temperature
1/4 cup brewed coffee
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, recipe follows

Peanut Butter Frosting:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 (7oz) container marshmallow crème
½ cup smooth, all natural peanut butter
 pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
½  pound bittersweet chocolate
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 pounds unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½  teaspoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 teaspoons water
1 ½  tablespoons dark rum


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter two (or four if you have them!) eight inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the sides well. 

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars on high speed for about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. 

In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. With the mixer on low speed, add a third of the buttermilk mixture, then a third of the flour mixture, alternating until everything is just combined. 

Divide the batter into four eight-inch round cake pans. (I only have two cake pans, so I made this in two batches).  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes each on a cooling rack, carefully remove from the pans and allow to finish cooling.

Peanut Butter Frosting:
Beat together butter, marshmallow crème and peanut butter.  Beat until smooth and no lumps remain. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
Chop the chocolates and place them in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan simmering water. Stir until melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Mix the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. (Or a large bowl for a hand-held mixer) Place the bowl of egg whites over the pan of simmering water and heat the egg whites until they are warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Return the bowl to the electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak.

Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and rum, and mix for 1 minute or until the chocolate is completely blended in.

After the cakes have cooled completely, use a flat bread knife to even out the top surface. Place first cake on cake plate and frost with an even layer of peanut butter frosting.  Continue layering on cakes and icing, ending with chocolate buttercream on top. I used all of the peanut butter frosting but had a fair amount of chocolate buttercream left over. I’m sure you can find a use for it…


  1. I have not had the cake or the chocolate frosting, but that peanut butter frosting is one of the best things to ever hit my lips :-)

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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