This recipe for peanut butter chocolate cake is sponsored by Cacao Barry. This single layer chocolate cake is made with 70% dark chocolate, specifically Cacao Barry Ocoa dark chocolate and the 3 ingredient peanut butter frosting is made with natural peanut butter, as well as butter and icing sugar.
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When you want to make a chocolate cake, you have two basic options: add cocoa powder or add dark chocolate to your recipe. While cocoa powder is associated with chocolate cakes that have an intensely chocolate flavour, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavour if you are making cake with melted chocolate.
I often make chocolate cakes with cocoa powder, but I figured you might want a recipe for a chocolate cake made with melted dark chocolate instead of cocoa. So here’s what you need to know about making a cake with melted chocolate.
FOR THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE made with dark chocolate instead of cocoa, USE REALLY GOOD CHOCOLATE!
The key ingredient in a recipe for chocolate cake like this is the dark chocolate, which means you MUST use the best dark chocolate for baking because it is providing both flavour, structure, and texture to this dessert. In fact, I decided to completely substitute for cocoa powder with dark chocolate.
For this recipe, I used Cacao Barry Ocoa 70% dark chocolate, which is a professional quality dark chocolate that you can buy in IGA grocery stores in Quebec and online from Vanilla Food Company. It comes in 1 kilo resealable bags as pistoles (which resemble giant flattened chocolate chips) which make most baking projects super easy because you don’t even have to chop it to melt it! Ocoa is not overly sweet which means you won’t end up with a chocolate cake that is too sweet. In fact, this chocolate cake has a deeper chocolate flavour with a pleasant bitterness to it. It’s perfect to balance out the sweet peanut butter frosting.
Because dark chocolate has a little more fat than cocoa powder, this chocolate cake made with melted chocolate is a little more tender and a little more delicate than it would be with cocoa powder. This is a single layer chocolate cake recipe, but if you are looking for a more elaborate chocolate cake, try this chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting (which is a chocolate layer cake with cream cheese frosting and berries) or this coffee chocolate cake (which is a chocolate layer cake with coffee buttercream and a chocolate drizzle).
Natural peanut butter frosting: a 3 ingredient peanut butter frosting
What is cake except an excuse to eat frosting? For this peanut butter chocolate cake, I wanted an easy peanut butter frosting made with natural peanut butter, the kind of peanut butter that has no added sugar of any kind and no emulsifiers or stabilizers, which means it separates upon storage. For this natural peanut butter frosting, I changed the order of ingredient mixing so instead of creaming butter with peanut butter before adding icing sugar, I decided to combine peanut butter and icing sugar, then add in the butter and a splash of vanilla. This is the same technique I use for thick stable cream cheese frosting for cupcakes.
For this recipe I used a salted natural peanut butter that has a fair bit of salt. This Trader Joe’s creamy salted peanut butter is pretty similar to what I used and you can find it on Amazon. If you use unsalted natural peanut butter for this frosting, make sure you add a generous amount of salt to balance out the sweet. Technically this is a 3 ingredient peanut butter frosting with a splash of vanilla extract. The vanilla is optional but I find it gives the frosting a little more depth of flavour. The peanut butter frosting is quite stable, even at room temperature.
This peanut butter chocolate cake is a single layer chocolate cake, baked in a square pan, topped with a thick layer of peanut butter frosting. Make sure to prepare the square cake pan properly if you want to unmould the cake to serve it.The peanut butter frosting is made with natural peanut butter but is still quite sweet and perfect for pairing with a bittersweet chocolate cake.
Peanut butter chocolate cake
Chocolate cake made with melted chocolate
- 188 grams (1 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp (1 1/2 tsp) baking powder
- 1/4 tsp (1/4 tsp) Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp (1/8 tsp) baking soda
- 115 grams (½ cup) unsalted butter room temperature
- 100 grams (½ cup) light brown sugar
- 50 grams (⅓ cup) granulated sugar
- 3 (3 ) large eggs
- 1 tsp (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract
- 125 mL (½ cup) sour cream (14% fat)
- 175 grams (1 cup) Cacao Barry Ocoa 70% dark chocolate melted and cooled slightly
Chocolate cake made with melted dark chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 350 ºF. Butter and flour a 9x9-inch square brownie pan and line the bottom with a square of parchment. I like this square pan from Amazon.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. The mixture will be light and fluffy. Add the vanilla
- Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream, until the batter is just combined. Add the melted chocolate.
- Smooth the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until set and firm. I like to check with a metal cake tester like this one on Amazon to see if the cake is baked through in the middle.
- Set aside to cool for 15 minutes then unmold on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Natural peanut butter frosting
- In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, combine the natural peanut butter and the icing sugar to form a thick, crumbly mixture.
- Add the softened butter and the vanilla and blend into a thick, spreadable frosting.
- Frost the cooled cake with an offset spatula. Use a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip to decorate (like this 1M start tip from Wilton on Amazon). Decorate with chocolate curls and sprinkles.
This post is sponsored by Cacao Barry. I was compensated monetarily and with product. Thanks for supporting the companies that allow me to create content for Kitchen Heals Soul. As always, please know that I wouldn’t work with a sponsor nor recommend a product if it wasn’t worth it.
Please note this post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you buy a product I recommend, I will get a small commission, and the price you have to pay will not change in any way.
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University. Visit janicelawandi.com to see my portfolio.