Fudgy chocolate peanut butter cake – The most famous chocolate peanut butter cake out there. It will “blow” all of your other birthday cakes away!
Over the years, I’ve made my fair share of chocolate cakes (and cupcakes). But this one, my friends, is like no other.
And it really should come as no surprise to me that I keep finding recipes that are one better than the next but let’s be honest here: I’ve been sitting on this one for over 4 years. I should have known it would be an amazingly great and over the top cake – look where I found the recipe.
Kyle, that lucky man…I pull no punches for his annual day of gaining a year. He asked for a chocolate peanut butter cake this year and he sure as heck got one.
Three layers of impossibly fudgy, impossibly chocolatey, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth cake stacked high, then filled and frosted with a light and fluffy peanut butter frosting.
And if that can’t put a smile on the birthday boy’s face, let’s just add a coating of chocolate peanut butter ganache on top. You know, just for kicks!
It’s like eating a giant peanut butter cup!
The man deserves a cake like this fudgy chocolate peanut butter cake: he’s my rock, my world, my dishwasher.
How to Make a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake without a Box Mix
Now, this may look like a difficult cake to make from scratch but trust me, it’s easy! You’ll make the cake batter in one bowl, people, ONE BOWL! No stand mixer required!
There are a few steps for this cake because of the 3 main elements of the cake so this isn’t a quick cake to make. But it’s totally and completely worth your time!
- Preheat the oven 350° F.
- Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then stir in the wet ingredients.
- Divide the batter between 3 greased cake pans.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes.
- As the cakes cool, make the peanut butter frosting by beating the peanut butter with butter and then mixing in the powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and heavy cream.
- Stack the layers with frosting in between and schmear a quick scratch coat of frosting on the outside of the cake to prevent crumbs. Chill.
- Frost with a thick coat of the frosting.
- To make the ganache, melt the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup together in a small pan then whisk in half-and-half.
- Pour ganache over the top of the cake and spread it out so it drips down the sides.
- Chill for 30 minutes for serving.
Other Uses for Peanut Butter Ganache
What I love about this peanut butter ganache is that you can use it in so many other ways!
- drizzle over ice cream in place of hot fudge
- fill chocolate cupcakes
- let it cool and whip it up to frost a ganache cake
- add a top layer to a cheesecake
- swirl it into brownie batter or banana bread before baking
- dip buttery cookies into it
The ganache takes less than 10 minutes to make so it’s kind of a no brainer!
For this cake, juuuust when you think the ganache is going to make a huge mess all over the cake plate, the drips stop themselves. It’s so fun to watch!
2019 UPDATE: In the 7 years since I first shared this fudgy chocolate peanut butter cake recipe here, my readers and lots of people on Pinterest have only had rave reviews for this cake. Readers have told me they have made it for:
- birthdays (their own birthdays and others’!)
- anniversary parties
- groom’s cakes
- bridal showers
- Bunco nights
- random Tuesday nights
This cake is just that good. Make this cake. Trust me.
And then please come back to let me know how much you loved it! This cake has gotten tons of rave reviews – it’s time to add yours below!
[In case you want to know more about what Kyle does everyday, check out this post.]
More Perfect Birthday Cakes
- pink vanilla bean birthday cake
- milk bar’s birthday layer cake
- Italian cannoli cake
- strawberry vanilla layer cake
Fudgy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Fudgy chocolate peanut butter cake is what chocolate peanut butter lovers' dreams are made of! With 3 layers of super fudgy, brownie-like cake, creamy peanut butter frosting, and a drippy chocolate peanut butter ganache, this cake will "blow" all of your other birthday cakes away!
For the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
For the peanut butter frosting:
- 2 cups creamy peanut butter
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp plus 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¾ tsp Kosher salt
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
For the chocolate-peanut butter ganache:
- 8 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
- 2 tbsp light corn syrup
- ½ cup half-and-half or heavy cream
- To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease (no flour is needed here) three 8-inch round cake pans with butter or baking spray. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper and lightly grease the paper.
- In a very large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water - splashing may occur if you add it too quickly (trust me). Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and be sure the batter is well-mixed and no flour bits remain. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans - using a kitchen scale really helps to ensure the layers will be equal in size.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes on the same rack, if possible, without the cake pans touching each other, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely.
- To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the peanut butter and butter. Sift the sugar into the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and salt. Starting on low and gradually increasing (to prevent the sugar from covering your kitchen) the speed to medium-high, beat the ingredients until light and fluffy, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in the heavy whipping cream.
- To frost the cake: Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand, cardboard cake round, or large serving plate. Spread ⅔ cup of the peanut butter frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with a scant amount of frosting to make a crumb coat to keep the crumbs from popping through the final frosting. You'll need just enough to lightly cover the cake - there's no need to be neat here. Let the cake chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Once the cake is fully frosted, chill the cake again and let it firm up before covering it with the ganache.
- To make the ganache: In the in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.
- To decorate with the ganache: Gently pour the ganache over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the ganache to set completely. Take the cake out of the fridge about 1 hour before serving - it will be difficult to cut through the ganache if it is too cold.
This may seem like a daunting recipe, but I promise, it comes together in just a few steps. I strongly advise placing the cooled layers in the freezer right on the cooling racks for 30-40 minutes before assembling the cake - this small step will prevent the soft cake layers from cracking as you assemble. If you're limited for space in your fridge, assemble the cake on a cardboard cake round or large plate so that you can easily transfer it back and forth from counter to fridge in the final couple steps of the recipe - a cake stand plus this enormous cake will fit in few fridges.
cake and ganache adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes via Smitten Kitchen | frosting is a Smells Like Home original
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Beautiful! Awesome recipe and photos 🙂
I will definately try this. Love one bowl cake ideas and the pictures look so delicious that I want it now at 7:30 for breakfast..bad…very bad…
Happy Birthday to Kyle! He’s a lucky, lucky man 🙂
I’ve made this cake, and it’s sooo good. I absolutely love it! It’s my go-to chocolate cake recipe, too.
Holy cow. What more can I say? This will be my very own birthday present to myself, when my birthday rolls around. :o) I will just make sure to have lots of people over to help me eat it, or I’ll be in trouble!
My mouth literally watered looking at these pictures. I need someone to celebrate a birthday asap because otherwise I’m making this cake just to celebrate Tuesday.
This looks so stinkin delicious…my favorite combo
Wow! That ganache is seriously amazing.
Just perfect birthday treat! I wish I had birthday every day 🙂
I need this – like, yesterday. This looks so good, Tara!
Just came across your blog. Can’t wait to try this cake. Thanks for sharing!
Kyle is a lucky man! I would love to have this cake for my birthday.
What a beautiful looking cake!
My sister is a huge PB & Chocolate fan – I’m going to make this cake for her birthday at the end of October. Hopefully it turns out as nice as yours! 🙂
It’s way easier than it looks – you’ll do great!
I just made this last night for my fiancee’s birthday party. It was an ENORMOUS hit! Thanks for posting 🙂
Awesome! It’s a true favorite of ours and I’m glad your finace loved it. Thanks for coming back to let me know!
I want this cake for my birthday :). Thanks for sharing the recipe!
Have you tried this as a sheet cake? Trying to use for office function and simplify.
I haven’t, no.
Thanks for sharing!
I can’t wait to try the peanut butter frosting 🙂 ♥
Hi! What do you mean by half-and-half? Want to make this for my birthday.. Thank you!
Made this cake for my husband for his birthday last night too! Everyone was so impressed! It’s a very beautiful cake in its own way and it was so moist and decadent. It did come together very quickley like you said too, and putting the cake in the fridge in between steps did make it easier to work with. My only adjustment for next time would be less peanut butter in the icing. I would have liked to taste more of the chocolate in the cake (which on its own is a winner!) but when paired with the icing I found the peanut butter taste overwhelming. The ganache tasted and turned out so nice, but it too got lost in the peanut butter icing. Will definitely make this one again!
I googled ‘chocolate peanut butter cake’ and this popped up! John, an equally wonderful man who makes as good a rock as he does a washing machine (mechanic, masseuse, and morning barista!) is turning 31 at the end of the month. I know this will blow his adorable mind…perhaps I can overwhelm him into a proposal 😉 cannot wait to try!
You MUST come back to tell me if this cake makes him pop the question!! 🙂 I know he’ll love it either way though!
I made this yesterday for my husbands birthday party with his family and it was a huge hit with the adults and kids! He asked for a chocolate peanut butter cake, and I’m so happy I found this recipe online to make for him! I will definitely be making this again in the future….thank you for sharing this recipe!
I just introduced my friend to peanut butter and chocolate after a trip to the states and she loved it. I found this recipe in perfect time for her birthday next month. I hope I can make it look as pretty as you did!
Pretty or not, this is an amazing cake! Your friend will not be disappointed. 🙂
I made this over the weekend for a friend’s birthday. It was described as “fabulous, fantastic and amazing.” It did take awhile to make because of the chilling, but worth it. And it was super easy too. Thank you for sharing this and your tips were very helpful.
Yup, that’s exactly what we thought about it too. 🙂
made this cake for my hubby’s birthday yesterday and I have to tell you it is THE best cake ever! have had two people from the party email me already this morning for the recipe!! delicious!!
I just finished making this cake and it was a HUGE success! My mom loves peanut butter and chocolate so this was the perfect birthday cake for her.
We made this recipe for a birthday party, and everything was amazing, except the frosting. We used Smuckers natural peanut butter for the frosting and it separated into a layer of oil and a layer of peanut butter-esque glops. Do not, I repeat do not, use natural peanut butter for the recipe. We luckily had enough time to make the icing again with Skippy peanut butter, and it worked much better. This is a great recipe as long as you don’t use Natural Peanut Butter!!! Good luck.
After searching around for a peanut butter chocolate cake, I found this. I made itfor my hubby’s birthday this past weekend and it was a big hit! He said it was the best cake he’s ever had. Our guests loved it! It was simple to make, just took a little bit of time with the chilling. Looked and tasted fantastic.
I found this recipe, I think about 6 months ago, and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to make it for my boyfriend. He LOVES peanut butter and chocolate, and this cake is just SPECTACULAR! I wanted to make it straight away, but I suppressed the urge. It’s just not an everyday cake! So I quietly bookmarked it, and every once in a while have looked back at it and got excited all over again 🙂 now it’s April, and his birthday is the day after tomorrow. I just got all the ingredients, and I am so freaking excited to get cracking tomorrow!! I really hope my attempt at this turns out OK! This may be one of the more monumental bakes I’ve ever done- I usually just stick to loaves, cookies and muffins 😛 wish me luck!
I have made this twice, but haven’t tried the PB Frosting yet. I used a Fudge Frosting, but this cake is SO amazingly fudgy & moist that it *barely* needs a thin layer. It stays moist for 3 days at room temp (we’ve eaten it before the 3rd night, so I can’t say just how many days it *does* stay moist!). I haven’t tried freezing any layers yet – if anyone does, would be interested to know how they are when thawed compared to when fresh baked. (Btw, the cake ingredients are what everyone always has on hand, and it literally takes less than 10 mins to make the batter, and that includes my cutting out the parchment paper rounds and greasing the pans!!) AMAZING!! Thank you for posting this; so glad I found this site! Now I’m off to try more recipes you have. 🙂
Great to hear this went over well! It’s truly a recipe to keep and make over and over again.
Could anyone possibly give me advice on how I might be able to make this cake gluten free? I don’t know if I was to change the regular flour to rice flour or something if I’d have to change the amount or anything. If no one can help I will just use a different cake recipe and use the frosting 🙂
[…] Cake recipe adapted from the Smitten Kitchen. Frosting recipe courtesy Smells Like Home. […]
I made this for my boyfriend’s birthday this past weekend. HOLY WOW! it’s amazing. For sure a cake recipe I’ll keep – with or without the frosting. Thank you for sharing. It was a HUGE success! Might i suggest one addition – a very tall glass of cold milk! 🙂
I made this into cupcakes with the PB frosting swirled on top and the ganache in the center of the cupcake! They were remarkable!! (After the cupcakes are baked, put slightly cooled ganache in a frosting bag with a tip #10, then press the tip into the cupcake about a 1/2 inch and squeeze the ganache in! It makes the top of the cupcake look kind of messy, but once you swirl the PB frosting on with a tip 1M, it looks beautiful!)
Outstanding idea! I’m sure they were just as fantastic as the full-size cake. Thank for coming back to let me know – I’m sure this will be helpful to others wondering about cupcake adaptability.
You’re so welcome! So great to hear how this cake has gone over with your friends – it makes us go pretty crazy too!
This is a heavenly dream for chocolate and peanut butter lovers. The cake was super moist and fudgy. The peanut butter layer is a fluffy, creamy delight. I had extra, because I only made two cakes instead of three. The ganache makes it look so pretty. I cut the ganache back by a third since I had less cake for it to drip down. The guests loved it!
It IS a heavenly dream for chocolate + pb lovers, isn’t it? So happy to hear it went over so well at your party, Amy!
I baked this cake already a few times, every time the same huge success. The best one was last year on the familiy bbq of my b’friends family. I’m welcome to the next yearly bbq (coming sunday) … only when I bake the cake 😀 haha. They ate it to the last crumb! So I’m making two smaller cakes (2 layers iso 3) to be able to make smaller pieces (if they will like that, that’s something else 😛 )
That’s hysterical! I love that this cake is like a guaranteed party invitation! So happy to hear that it is always so well loved every time you make it. This is what makes sharing these recipes with you all so much fun for me.
OMG! This is DELICIOUS!!! I made it for a coworker’s birthday, and the reviews were along the lines of “phenomenal!”, “peanut-butter dream!”, and “Heaven!”. Thank you so much for sharing!!!
Yay! I couldn’t agree more with all of those sentiments! Thanks so much for coming back to comment, Erin!
Hi. Quick question. After this cake is all done and set up, does it need to be regriegerated? Thanks in advance!
No need to refrigerate! Just cover tightly with plastic wrap or keep it in a covered cake container/stand. I hope you love it!!
I hope this cake turned out great for you!
You could but I really do recommend dutch processed cocoa. The acidity in the powder interacts with the vinegar to create a really rich chocolate cake.
I am making this for a groomsmen cake and the bride had asked me to cover it in fondant. i was going to put the ganache topping in the layers with the peanut butter. The wedding is on Saturday. If I make it Friday morning do I need to refrigerate it over night until the wedding Saturday since the frosting has heavy cream and the ganache has half in half in them? Or with your experience has it been okay at room temperature?
I made this last night for a coworker’s birthday and dubbed it the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cake. It smells amazing and she said it’s her favorite cake now. I also added in the peanut butter chips to the cake batter. Great recipe.
All in all, with a 3 year old helping, it took me 3 hours from start to finish.
I’ve made this cake at least 12 times. From Bunco to birthdays to a small family wedding! Everyone loves it and asks for me to make it again. For some reason, when i use the heavy cream in the frosting, it gets really hard for me to spread, so I usually use whole milk. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!!!
This is by far the best cake, especially chocolate cake (it’s actually moist). It’s my go-to chocolate cake. I’ve made it with awesome fudge chocolate frosting as well as mint before. I’m wondering it this cake recipe will work as a marble cake by leaving out cocoa from part of the batter. I’m going to use butter cream this time. Thoughts on this?
Hey Amy! I’m so thrilled to hear that you love this cake so much and with so many other frostings too! I’m right there with ya! I wouldn’t suggest leaving the cocoa out of a portion of this batter to make a marble cake because the cocoa also helps to absorb the moisture in addition to the flour. If you have time to play around with things here (i.e., don’t need the cake for party and have time to experiment), you could try swapping the cocoa for an equal amount of flour in half of the batter and reduce the baking soda to 1/4 tsp in the non-chocolate half of the batter. You won’t need as much baking soda when you take out the cocoa powder since the baking soda helps to balance the acidity of the cocoa. Let me know how this works for you! I’ve been DYING to make a marble cake!!
This cake was amazing!!! I will never be able to go back to a boxed chocolate cake again! The peanut butter frosting is so delicious and will absolutely make an appearance in many desserts to come! Thanks for sharing!
This totally makes my day! Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review, Tara! And I completely agree about not being able to go back to boxed cake mixes after eating this cake. It’s so great!!
Has anyone tried this in a different pan say a Bundt pan or a springform pan or a 9 x 13?
Hi Amy, You can bake any cake in virtually any size pan but you’ll need to adjust the baking time and amount of batter for the size pan you want to use. My go-to guide for adjusting a cake recipe for a new pan is right here: Food52 Cake Conversion This cake recipe yields 3 8-inch cake layers and you can bake 1/3 of the recipe in an 8-inch, 9-inch, or 10-inch springform pan without issue. You’ll need to decrease the baking time slightly as the pan size increases and be aware that the height of the cake will also decrease as the pan size increases. I hope this helps! Please let me know how it turns out for you!
i almost never comment on sites but i have to rave about this recipe.
i’ve made this twice now. the first time was for my now-boyfriend’s birthday last year (we had been dating for a couple months at the time) and he said he heard an angelic choir when he took the first bite.
the second time was for my best friend’s birthday, and i swapped the peanut butter frosting out for a homemade raspberry buttercream. she messaged me the next day to ask if i could make the same one for her husband’s birthday; now that they’ve had this cake, they can’t go back.
tl;dr, this cake knocks it out of the park every time. saving this recipe forever.
This cake lives up to the hype! It was easy to make and is oh so delicious!! I will be using this recipe every chance I get!
This cake is one of my favorites and I’ve made it multiple times now. I’m curious, would it work well as cupcakes?
Hi Esther! So happy to hear how much you love this cake – it’s a long-time favorite of ours too! I’ve never tried making cupcakes instead of cake with this recipe so I can’t say for sure how the conversion will work. If you give it a try, please come back to let me know how it goes. Happy baking!