Monday, March 21, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cake

Something happened last year.  As The Fiance’s birthday was approaching in early March, I kept asking him what he wanted me to make him for his birthday.  He firmly insisted that all he wanted was a batch of White Chocoloate Macadamia Nut Blondies.  So, that’s what he got.  And if I’m not mistaken, he ate practically the entire batch all by himself, and was quite content.

He wasn’t content too long, because later in the month he saw me make this for a friend’s birthday.  Yes it’s the rich tasting, incredibly impressive looking, surprise-to-be-discovered inside, Red Velvet Cake with a layer of Cheesecake in the middle topped with Cream Cheese Frosting.  That post has went on to be the most popular post on my blog to date, with 100 comments and counting.  And it’s well deserved, as it is both delicious & beautiful.  So, I think he was feeling a bit unloved, seeing as I didn’t make him a cake like that.  Mind you, not because I don’t love him, but because HE DIDN’T WANT CAKE.

So, an entire year rolled around and he never forgot that.  I’m pretty sure it was back in the fall he decided he wanted his own version of that cake, but wanted it to include chocolate & peanut butter.  My first thought was to do a peanut butter cheesecake.  But he firmly insisted he wanted REGULAR cheesecake.  (And he thinks I’m the difficult one!)

I worried over how well the chocolate & peanut butter flavors would mesh with the tang of cheesecake.  But in the end, with some specific selections & adaptions when it came to the frosting & cake recipes, as well as adapting the cheesecake layer to elimate the lemon zest & juice, the end result tasted FANTASTIC.  I really wasn’t sure if it would reach the epic “OMG THIS IS SO FREAKING AMAZING” taste of the red velvet version, but it did!  Oh man, it did.  I think using a peanut butter frosting recipe that had cream cheese in it, really helped to mend the flavors together.  It added just the teeniest touch of tang, and really complimented the cake & cheesecake.

I think this cake can appeal to a lot of people (especially if you’re a fan of chocolate + peanut butter!)  And again, like I said in the Red Velvet post, this cake is not difficult, just a bit time consuming.  But the steps in the process make it easy to spread out over a weekend or longer.

Now for some notes on the structure and assembly of this gorgeous cake.  The assembly process is pretty much the same as in the red velvet version, but with a few minor changes.  As before, I knew when I baked the cheesecake I wouldn’t be making a crust, so I lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Once baked, I let the cheesecake cool completely, then stored it in the refrigerator overnight.  The next morning I removed the outer ring of the cheesecake pan, but left the bottom circle of the pan, and wrapped it in two layers of plastic wrap and two layers of aluminum foil and placed it in the freezer.  When baking the cake layers, I used these Bake Even strips to help achieve a level, even cake.  When I made the red velvet cake, I also used a cake leveler to level it perfectly once it had cooled, but found with this chocolate one, it wasn’t needed.  So, when it came time to put the cheesecake in the middle, I took it out of the freezer, unwapped it from the foil and plastic.  The metal bottom of the pan was easy to remove.  Then I simply peeled off the parchment paper layer.  It literally could not have been easier.  The cheesecake never seemed like it would break, and was quite sturdy.  I used the plastic wrap I had removed as a buffer between my hand and the cheesecake when transferring it, to keep the cheesecake from sticking to my warm hands.  Depending on what size pans you used (8in vs 9in) the cheesecake may be too wide for the cake.  If this is the case, just let it sit and soften for about 5-10 minutes, then cut the edges off with a knife.

Once the cheesecake layer is atop the chocolate layer, apply a thin layer of peanut butter frosting if you’d like.  I decided to do this to help bring in the peanut butter flavor.  An important tip, if you’re going to frost the cheesecake layer, you MUST do it while the cheesecake is still frozen!  Otherwise it’ll smoosh around.  Next up, layer the second chocolate cake layer, and apply the crumb coat.  (A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting you apply first to help keep the crumbs in.  Then you set the cake in the refrigerator to chill before applying the cleaner, thicker second layer.  A crumb coat is necessary when you have such a dark cake under paler frosting.)  I found with the peanut butter frosting, it was a bit thicker than the cream cheese frosting from the red velvet version, and not as easy to spread.  Because of this, it’s best to frost this cake while the cheesecake layer is in a semi-frozen state, because as the cheesecake softens, you’ll have to be careful to not “smoosh” it too much as you frost the edges.  After some time in the fridge, apply the second, thicker layer of frosting.

If I’d had some chocolate bars to shave chocolate on top I would have, but all I had were chocolate chips.  So I lined them up around the edges.  This cake wasn’t frosted quite as pretty as the red velvet version, probably because the cream cheese frosting is easier to spread than this peanut butter frosting.  Also, my original adaption of the peanut butter frosting didn’t quite produce enough frosting to be as generous as I would have liked, leading to a thinner frosted cake.  I’ve adjusted the amounts in the frosting recipe, so you won’t run into the same problem.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cake

Ingredients:

CHEESECAKE:
1 1/4 pounds bar cream cheese (20 oz), room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

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 or large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

FROSTING:
8 ounces cream cheese
3 cups confectioners' sugar (more or less, depending on consistency, your preference)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream (more or less, depending on consistency, your preference)

Directions:

CHEESECAKE:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Set a kettle of water to boil. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium until fluffy, scraping down side of bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl after each addition. Beat in sour cream.

Cut parchment paper in a circle and line the bottom of the cheesecake pan. Wrap bottom half of pan in foil. Pour in filling; place in a roasting pan. Pour in boiling water to come halfway up side of springform. Bake until just set in center, about 45 minutes. Remove pan from water; let cool 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around edge; let cool completely. Cover; chill overnight, then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.

CAKE:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Line 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.

FROSTING:
Beat cream cheese and peanut butter with a mixer on medium speed. Add salt, then vanilla. Alternating, add confectioners' sugar and heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.

Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate until needed.

ASSEMBLY:
Place one layer of cake on cake stand. If desired, frost top with peanut butter frosting. Remove cheesecake from freezer, unwrap, and remove from metal bottom of the pan, then peel off parchment paper. Place cheesecake layer on top of the cake. If the cheesecake is wider than the cake, and it is necessary to to trim it, wait approximately 10 minutes for the cheesecake to soften, then trim it with a knife. Place top layer of cake on top of the cheesecake, and coat with a layer of the peanut butter frosting to act as the crumb coat. Be careful not to get any crumbs in the bowl of frosting! Refrigerate approximately 30 minutes, then frost with as much of the remaining frosting as necessary. Top with shaved chocolate, chocolate chips, or decoration of your choosing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Inspired by Lincoln's Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

Cheesecake adapted from Martha Stewart
Cake from Ina Garten "Beatty's Chocolate Cake"
Frosting adapted from Martha Stewart

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50 Responses to “Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cake”

  1. 1
    Beth — March 21, 2011 @ 9:25 am

    Looks incredible Erin! I’m not a Red Velvet fan, but I am most definitely a HUGE chocolate and peanut butter fan, so I’d be all over this :-)

  2. 2
    Ashley — March 21, 2011 @ 9:29 am

    Oh. My. GOD. That looks amazing!!! Now I have to come up with an excuse to bake it…

  3. 3
    Rachel — March 21, 2011 @ 9:45 am

    My favorite ingredients.. chocolate and peanut butter. This looks amazing!

  4. 4
    Vivek — March 21, 2011 @ 10:13 am

    This looks gorgeous, Erin! Chocolate and Peanut Butter is always a winner!

  5. 5
    Shannon — March 21, 2011 @ 11:04 am

    um, WOW!!!! That looks beautiful!!

  6. 6
    amy (fearless homemaker) — March 21, 2011 @ 11:06 am

    wow, this looks amazing. i would love to give this a try soon – maybe i’ll make it this weekend. also, ahem, my birthday is in a little over a month if you need another occasion to make this. =)

  7. 7

    Wonderful job, Erin!

  8. 8
    Lala — March 21, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

    Wow, I love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. That chocolate cake recipe is my favorite ever since I tried it with fudge frosting. Yum! Thanks.

  9. 9

    Beautiful cake!

  10. 10
    casey — March 21, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

    this. looks. AMAZING!!!! I’m definitely having my BFF make me this for my bday!!!!

  11. 11
    Katie Gosser — March 21, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

    This looks incredible!!!

  12. 12
    Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen — March 22, 2011 @ 9:08 am

    Chocolate AND peanut butter AND cheesecake….YUM! And, I love the chocolate chips around the top…so cute!

  13. 13
    Kelly — March 22, 2011 @ 9:44 am

    Wow, what an amazing cake and combination of flavors. I’m hungry just reading this now! Beautiful Erin!

  14. 14
    Jen @ BeantownBaker.com — March 22, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

    Brilliant. We loved the red velvet cheesecake cake and this one looks amazing as well.

  15. 15
    foodies at home — March 22, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

    I saw Peanut Butter Chocolate and came running! Now I know what I want for my Birthday! :)

  16. 16
    Courtney Wise — March 23, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

    U never cease to make me drool!!!

  17. 17
    Heather @Gluten-Free Cat — March 24, 2011 @ 7:49 am

    WOW, Erin, that looks amazing! How can you not like chocolate and peanut butter, but you make it SING!

  18. 18
    Brett — March 24, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    The cake looks wonderful Erin. As I told you on my last post, I have been considering all the different flavor combinations that one could use to make these kinds of cakes and I believe I mentioned the idea for a coconut cheesecake between the layers of a pineapple cake. With a slight alteration of the cheesecake recipe for the Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake, I now have the coconut cheesecake in the freezer. I didn’t use the lemon juice or the zest but instead used a can of Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut and also added 1/4 cup of sweetened flaked coconut. I have a dear friend that I am making this for as a belated birthday present and as a welcome home as she is moving back home to Florida from Wisconsin. The Pineapple cake layers will be an adventure because it’s not easy to make this kind of cake where I want to hide the cheesecake layer under the frosting for the pineapple cake. The kind of pineapple frosting that is used on the pineapple cake I most often think of is more like a glaze so I have come up with a solution I believe. I will make pineapple curd and put a thin layer on the bottom cake layer and also on top of the cheesecake so that there will be a bit of the pineapple flavor in between the layers just as you did with the peanut butter frosting. I will also put some pineapple curd on the top of the cake but leave the outer edges clean. I know I will have to do this and then put it back in the fridge for a couple of hours to set the curd but that is fine. The final frosting will be with a Pineapple Cream Cheese frosting on the sides and around the outer edges of the top cake layer thus allowing me to “hide” the cheesecake layer. As soon as I get this made which will be in the next couple of weeks I will post a pic of it for you to see, if it turns out good, lol! Great job on the cake again.

  19. 19

    YUM! I thought the greatest combo was simply pb and chocolate, but add in cheesecake!!!! Oh my.

  20. 20
    Liesl — March 24, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

    This cake was incredible! Great flavor combination…thanks for sharing it with me! :)

  21. 21
    Michelle — March 26, 2011 @ 6:31 am

    Oh my gosh, that is one amazing cake!

  22. Pingback: The Weekend Dish: 3/26/2011 | Brown Eyed Baker

  23. 22
    what katie's baking — March 30, 2011 @ 10:43 am

    that’s true love…. being able to make the perfect dessert for your fiance when he clearly cannot make up his mind on what he wants! haha!
    this looks like heaven, though. i don’t think there’s anyway he couldn’t have liked it!

  24. 23
    Megan — April 3, 2011 @ 10:22 am

    This looks awesome! I really love the chocolate chip border. So cute with minis mixed in.

  25. 24
    Brett — April 7, 2011 @ 10:45 am

    I now have a pic of the Pineapple-Coconut Cheesecake Cake and please don’t judge it on the looks, lol. It was the first time doing it and I have found several changes that I will make to it but in overall taste I would have to say that I didn’t get any negative responses from it. I was in a hurry frosting it so I didn’t do the best job I could have on it. The pineapple curd worked out great and the cheesecake could not be said to have no coconut flavor in it. I’m pretty pleased and when I do another one I will hopefully have a better looking cake to show you. Lol!

  26. 25
    Brett — April 7, 2011 @ 10:46 am

    I now have a pic of the Pineapple-Coconut Cheesecake Cake and please don’t judge it on the looks, lol. It was the first time doing it and I have found several changes that I will make to it but in overall taste I would have to say that I didn’t get any negative responses from it. I was in a hurry frosting it so I didn’t do the best job I could have on it. The pineapple curd worked out great and the cheesecake could not be said to have no coconut flavor in it. I’m pretty pleased and when I do another one I will hopefully have a better looking cake to show you. Lol!
    http://s234.photobucket.com/albums/ee34/Brett4BAMA_photos/Culinary%20Adventures/

    I always mess my posts up, lol!

  27. Pingback: Chocolate Cake Cheesecake « Teacher by Day – Chef by Night

  28. 26
    Sumreet Singh Johar — April 25, 2011 @ 11:04 pm

    What coffee you use in this cake?

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  31. 27
    Kathryn — May 26, 2011 @ 11:25 am

    What could be substituted for the coffee? The cake sounds amazing, but I can’t drink any coffee at all.

    • Erin replied: — May 26th, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

      Feel free to just add steaming hot water, as is the method in Hershey’s Chocolate cake, which I also like. All the coffee does is intensify the chocolate flavor.

  32. 28
    lsmith — July 3, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

    I have now made both the red velvet and chocolate/pb versions and OMG, these are the BEST desserts I’ve ever made. Seriously! I make some good ones, but these are THE BEST! The cakes remain moist for long after you cut the first slice (fridge can dry them out sometimes, but not these!). Totally worth it and they’re going to be my go-to cakes from now on — can’t pick a fave as they’re both totally home-runs — just a matter of which one you’re in the mood for. Trying the carrot cake version for my Dad soon….yum!!! THANKS ERIN!!!!!!!

  33. 29
    Kim — July 18, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

    Cake was absolutely delicious, however, my frosting was definitely runny…thoughts?

    • Erin replied: — July 18th, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

      Hmmm… I actually remember mine being a big difficult to spread! Definitely much thicker of a set than the cream cheese frosting on the other version. I didn’t bring any of the ingredients to room temperature either.

      Perhaps it was just the heat? I know with anything I make involving powdered sugar, the amount I need varies depending on what time of year it is! I made this cake back in March, for my husband’s birthday, and it was still cold out. Maybe you need more powdered sugar in the warmer months.

  34. 30
    Kim — July 19, 2011 @ 6:37 am

    Hmmm..quite possibly, it was pretty warm and humid here in New England yesterday. I’m going to make a second attempt once my arteries recover!

    Thanks!

  35. Pingback: Peanut Butter Party | Keep It Sweet

  36. 31

    This cheesecake is like one from a dream! I’m featuring it as one of my bookmarks from the past few weeks. Hope you can stop by and see!

  37. Pingback: Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie Surprise | Keep It Sweet

  38. 32
    McGee — September 11, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

    Just made this triple-layer OMGeesecake and WOW!!! Absolutely amazing and well worth the effort I put into it. I would definitely recommend it to everyone. It put a HUGE smile on my niece’s face for her 17th birthday. I’d love to post pics but I’m not sure how to on here. Thanks for the recipe and I look forward to trying many more of them!! :)

  39. 33
    Amanda — September 27, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

    your second picture is gorgeous. love the lighting.

    Amanda
    softandstiffpeaks.blogspot.com

  40. 34
    Mary — October 12, 2011 @ 7:59 am

    I’m thinking about trying this with apple cake and a brown sugar cheesecake recipe I had from something else as a fall/ thanksgiving dessert. Thanks for the inspiration!

  41. 35
    Sabrina — October 16, 2011 @ 5:47 am

    Erin, I absolutely love your blog and I just wanted to let you know that this creation inspired me to make an All Black’s Velvet Cheesecake. Thank you for sharing your recipes!
    Sabrina

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  43. 36
    Jaclyn — February 1, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

    I am making this cake as we speak…it’s 11pm…way to wait until the last minute, right? But, I promised the girls at work this cake for a birthday tomorrow, so I can’t let them down. The cheese cake I made from scratch and is now in the oven…for the cake, since i’m short on time and ingredients, I am using a dark chocolate box cake…I will make that in the morning along with the icing. Can’t wait to taste it!!!! Thank you for sharing the recipe…I know it will be a BIG hit!!

    PS… I love your blog…it got the bookmark =).

  44. 37
    Petra — February 7, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

    Erin,
    I love your site! Not only are the recipes amazing, but your chat is delightful.

    Thank for sharing it with us.

    Kind regards,

    Petra

  45. 38
    Nancy Fackler — June 7, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

    I made this cake today! I omitted the sour cream in the cheesecake, because I wanted a more mild flavor.
    I added reeses mini peanut butter cups and applied peanut butter frosting roses on each, and sprinkled chopped reeses cups in the center. Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe!

  46. 39
    Bridget — August 1, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

    I’m making this for my friend’s 40th tomorrow. I have the cheesecake cooling and the frosting prepped for tomorrow. I substituted 1/2 cup peanut butter for the sour cream in the cheesecake. She is a peanut butter girl. I will take pics tomorrow and send along :)

    • Erin replied: — August 2nd, 2013 @ 10:06 am

      Oh yummy!! I can’t wait to hear how it turns out! Ya know, I really wanted to do a peanut butter cheesecake, but my husband specifically wanted a regular cheesecake. I bet your version is fantastic!

  47. 40
    Mollie — December 23, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

    I love love love this cake it’s my fiancés favorite also! I’m not the best cheese cake maker though. So I buy the no bake jello cheese cakes in the box and smack that in the middle and it is delish! About to make some into cupcakes. Wish me luck!

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