Fall is here!
This October, my posts are going to be Halloween all the way. Candy-themed delights, fun colors, and fall-inspired flavors. I'm kicking it off today with a doozy: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake !
One of my favorite candies growing up were Reese's peanut butter cups. This was a strange anomaly for me, however, because I actually despised peanut butter throughout my childhood and adolescence. It wasn't until college did I finally warm up to nut butters. Being a broke vegetarian responsible for buying food will foster creativity.
I began to try almond butter around this time, which I didn't totally dislike. I think this was mostly because of almond butter's more mild flavor. I also bought all natural almond butter, because it was all I could find at the time. I had grown up finding regular sickeningly sweet and pungent peanut butter horrifying, especially to smell.
Once I decided that almond butter wasn't so bad, I decided to try sunflower butter. That stuff, man. Let me tell you, I became infatuated immediately. It's deliciously sweet, a little roasty, creamy and mild in smell. I loved it and couldn't get enough of it.
After buying a couple jars, I realized that sunflower butter was very expensive. So, I decided to finally give peanut butter another go. This time, I bought creamy all-natural peanut butter with no added sweeteners or oils. I was amazed. The texture was very similar to the almond butter that I used to buy. The taste was a little more pungent than sunflower butter, but it still had the earthy tang that I had grown to love.
I've been a huge peanut butter advocate ever since. Actually, I've grown to love all types of nut and seed butters. I'll try anything that's creamy and spreadable.
But, anyway, back to peanut butter cups!
I've actually always loved peanut butter cups. I'm a big chocolate fan, as many people are. I found the sweet and roasty chocolate a great foil to the peanut butter as a child. The overly-sweet peanut butter icing inside was tolerable just because of how sweet it was. I think if I had never grown to like peanut butter cups, I would still be averted to peanut butter today. So, even though Reese's are certainly not vegan, they did help me to move towards a path of peanut acceptance in my later life. So, for that, I thank them. <3
I always opt for natural (or if not, organic) peanut butter. I don't really like extra sugar or salt in my nut butters, but if they are GMO-free, they're alright in small amounts. The sugar I used is also organic, to ensure that it contains no animal products or GMO's.
The mousse was fun to make. I very loosely consider it to be a "recipe" here, since I just whipped up some aquafaba and mixed in peanut butter and sweetener. Nothing too complicated, but the result is to die for!
As far as the decoration of the cake, I went for a very simple look. This could also be done as a super lazy sheet or pan cake. After the cake is cooled completely, just layer the mousse on first and spread evenly. Then, pour the melted ganache all over the top to seal it. Let the cake sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight and you will have an equally delicious and no-muss no-fuss cake to serve and eat immediately! Alternatively, you can cut, fill and ice it like me. But only if you want to. 😛
Here's to a very delicious October and Halloween! 🎃
Peanut Butter Cup Cake
Based on Green Tea Strawberry Shortcake
Free from: Gluten, Soy*, Nuts**
**For allergan-free option, use another type of nut butter or seed butter!
Preheat oven 350 F.
- Line a 6" round or 9x9 square baking dish with parchment or grease with oil. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, measure out all dry ingredients (plus sugar) and whisk to incorporate completely, ridding of any lumps.
- In a cup/small bowl, combine the non-dairy milk and vinegar and let sit for about 3 minutes.
- Add all the rest of the wet ingredients into the bowl, and the milk mixture last.
- Combine the wet and dry with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, folding from bottom to top.
- Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan and smooth to even out. The batter will be thick and spongy.
- Bake the cake for approximately 25-35 minutes, testing the middle of the cake until the tester is clean.
- Let the cake cool at room temperature and then refrigerate or freeze prior to assembling with mousse and icing. (If you are cutting the cake, I would suggest freezing overnight.)
This buttercream is quite heavy and sweet, so use it sparingly unless you plan on going all-out with your decorating! *Use soy-free vegan butter if needed, or non-hydrogenated shortening
This should be enough to ice your cake, and maybe with some left over. You can be creative with what to do with that. 😉
Peanut Butter Mousse
*For allergan-free option, use another type of nut butter or seed butter!
I didn't use a measured recipe for my peanut butter mousse because I originally made a larger amount to fill a tiered cake. I use the leftover mousse for this 6" cake. I will put my rough measurements here but play around with it and see what works for you!
Enough for 2-6" cakes and 1-10" cake (3 layers each)
Whip the chickpea liquid (aquafaba) in the bowl of a high-speed mixer fitted with a whisk. Add about 1/4 tsp cream of tartar if the liquid is slow to whip into stiff peaks. This will take about 5-10 minutes.
Set the whipped aquafaba aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the peanut butter, chocolate and salt (if using) on low heat and stir until the chocolate melts and incorporates fully with the peanut butter. The result should be smooth.
Let the peanut butter mixture cool slightly for about 5-10 minutes and then gently fold into the whipped aquafaba using a rubber spatula. Fully incorporate (but do not over-mix) the two and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set up before using. The longer the mousse sits, the more dense it will become. After a few days, it tends to turn into a fudge-like consistency. This may or may not be a bad thing for you.
Again. this is a rough recipe as ganache is pretty easy to eyeball. You want a consistency that is pourable yet thick enough to hold its shape. I'd say a 1 to 1 ratio of chocolate to liquid is a good starting point, and then add more of either to adjust as needed. Definitely let the ganache cool for at least 15 minutes before garnishing your cake. Otherwise, it will run everywhere!
- 1/2 cup Dairy-free chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup coconut milk (canned or homemade is best)
In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and coconut milk together on low heat. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula. When mixture is fully melted with no lumps, remove from heat and let cool before using, or pour directly onto some ice cream (if you happen to have any). 😜
For the assembling of the cake, I made a slide show to demonstrate how to put everything together. If you've never iced a cake before, then I suggest you search a tutorial because I haven't got one here just yet!
It's simple, but if you don't want to be bothered, I totally understand. That's the beauty of making cake...you can do it so many ways! Bake in a sheet pan, slap the layers on and be done!
But, if you want to be fancy, here are the steps:
- Slice the cake in to 3 layers horizontally. Set aside.
- Using a piping bag filled with a small amount of buttercream, pipe a border around the first layer, which should be on top of your serving plate/cake board.
- Fill the inside of the buttercream border with some mousse.
- Repeat these steps for the second layer.
- Put the top layer of cake on and then ice the cake with a thin layer of buttercream (or crumb coat it, in other words). I stopped here. If you want, you can finish with a full layer of buttercream so that no cake is showing.
- Decorate how you like! I topped the cake with a layer of ganache that I made and plopped some Justin's peanut butter cups on top.