I first made this cake for a friend who’s passionate about chocolate peanut butter desserts. It’s inspired by a recipe I found years ago in a Food & Wine magazine. I’ve never made a conventional version, but I’m certain it’d be just as good! One of the intriguing things is the use of boiling water to help the cocoa “bloom”, something that contributes to the deep color and might help create better “body.” When I first started GF baking I experimented with steaming cakes on the stove top as a way to insure a moist texture. They were pretty good, but this recipe is better and easier!
Really, it’s easy! Don’t be dissuaded by the length of this recipe. The “crunchy” peanut meringue layer combined with milk chocolate ganache icing is over the top: worth every calorie!
The recipe calls for “Rice Krispies”. A quick search on the internet indicates Kellogg’s is producing GF Rice Krispies, but the ingredients list on the boxes I found at the market included Barley Malt, a gluten containing flavoring. Instead we use Erewhon Organic Crispy Brown Rice, certified GF, and a nicer product anyway. Check out the links below.
I forgot to put whole peanuts on the marketing list, so substituted almonds in the meringue layer. Since “necessity is the mother of invention” it inspired me to try a different version of the cake. Next time: “yellow” almond cake with crispy almond meringue, almond butter ganache, covered in a bittersweet chocolate icing: looking forward to it!
Make this cake! You and your peanut butter-chocolate loving friends and family will appreciate every bite!
Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Preheat the oven to 350; prepare two 9″ cake pans by lining them with parchment paper and greasing lightly.
2 cups (12 oz.) GF Flour Mix (ours or Trader Joe’s)
1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (3 oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup almond milk, room temperature (dairy milk will work)
1/2 cup vegetable oil – a generous half cup
1 tablespoon mild molasses
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
7/8 cup boiling water
1. Preheat the oven to 350F, prepare the cake pans by lining with parchment paper and lightly greasing, and trace the bottom of one of the cake pans onto parchment paper on a baking sheet. Lightly grease.
2. Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
3. Measure the eggs, milk, oil, molasses, and vanilla into a medium sized bowl and whisk to blend.
4. Whisk in the boiling water. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30 – 35 minutes , or until the cake just begins to pull away from the sides and is slightly firm to the touch. Let cool before inverting. Reduce the oven to 325 F.
CRUNCHY PEANUT LAYER
1/3 cup (1 oz.) sliced almonds
1/2 cup (2 oz.) confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter (it won’t hurt if it’s “chunky”).
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 oz. milk chocolate
1 cup (1 1/4 oz.) GF Rice Crispies (I like Erewhon’s)
1. In a food processor pulse the almonds with the confectioners’ sugar until finely ground.
2. Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat on medium high speed until stiff, but not dry.
3. Using a rubber spatula, fold the almond mixture into the meringue.
4. Spread the meringue onto the parchment “ghost” circle, keeping it within 1/4 inch of the edge. The meringue disk should be the exact width of a cake layer, and the cakes will shrink slightly.
5. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts on top of the meringue and bake at 325 F for 20 – 25 minutes until firm and lightly browned. Cool completely on the baking sheet.
6. In a medium bowl set in a saucepan of simmering water, heat the peanut butter, butter, and milk chocolate, stirring until well blended. Remove from the heat and fold in the Rice Krispies. Spread the mixture evenly over the cooled meringue. Transfer to the freezer or refrigerator and let cool completely.
INGREDIENTS FOR MILK CHOCOLATE GANACHE ICING
1 1/2 pounds good quality milk chocolate, chopped (or chips)
2 cups heavy cream
1. Heat the heavy cream unti just about to simmer. Remove from heat, pour in the chopped chocolate, and cover for 5-10 minutes or until the chocolate has melted. Whisk to blend the chocolate and cream. Set in the refrigerator for an hour, stirring occasionally until it’s spreadable/thick enough to hold shape. Do this in a bath of iced water if you’re pressed for time. (I used a snow bank….)
ASSEMBLING THE CAKE:
1. Place a layer, bottom side up on a flat cake plate (trim the tops of the cake layers if they’re so rounded that the cake is significantly raised at the edges – I resist doing this, but it always makes for a better looking cake….)
2. Spread 1/4 of the milk chocolate ganache on the cake, place the meringue layer on the ganache, spread another 1/4 of the icing on the (meringue), and top with the second cake layer. Refrigerate to set (30-60 minutes). Trim as necessary (again, I resist this – can’t bear to cut much if any off!) Spread the rest of the ganache on the sides and top of the cake, using a “Lazy Susan” to help smooth it evenly. Refrigerate to set.