This delicious chocolate peanut butter cake with salted caramel sauce combines everyone’s favourite flavours into one amazingly tasty and scrumptious looking drip cake. Layers of airy but moist peanut butter sponge are sandwiched between decadent silky chocolate buttercream, and the salted caramel sauce adds the finishing touch.
This will be a quick one. You see, it was my birthday yesterday. Which necessarily and logically means that I’ve spent the whole Sunday afternoon baking my own birthday cake. ‘Cause that’s just what foodies and food bloggers do.
When I decided to make a birthday cake, I only had one requirement: it needed to contain peanut butter, chocolate and salted caramel. That is, it had to contain my favourite two food groups, and it had to be smothered in salted caramel… just because. So, eventually, this cake was dreamt up and everything – and I mean everything – about it has been improvised. (Because I don’t like recipes, remember?) Thankfully, I anticipated that it might turn out super delicious (and it did), so I wrote down the measurements as I went along. And, oh, am I happy that I did.
The peanut butter sponge is at once airy and moist, and the peanut butter flavour comes through delightfully. The chocolate buttercream is actually cocoa powder buttercream – but you couldn’t really tell with how decadent and silky and amazingly chocolatey it is. Finally, the salted caramel brings the two components together into what has turned out to be a taste explosion of the best kind there is – a sweet one.
As I was writing this on the day of my birthday, there was only one tiny little piece of cake left. That’s how good it is. To be fair, quite a few people have happily enjoyed a piece, but its rate of disappearance is an excellent testament to just how amazing this chocolate peanut butter cake with salted caramel really is.
Unfortunately, its rate of disappearance also means that I didn’t have time to take pictures after it had been cut, so you’ll have to be satisfied with pictures of luscious salted caramel dripping down the side of chocolate buttercream frosted cake… and I’ll leave you to imagine the yumminess that is the peanut butter sponge. (I mean… it looks like a sponge. It’s light golden brown, has air bubbles because of its fluffiness… You get the picture. What sets it apart from a bazillion other sponge cakes is that it’s a peanut butter sponge cake. And that should be enough to get you super excited and ready to start baking. Now.)
The recipe is straightforward and fool-proof. The cake, as you can see, isn’t at all polished or sophisticated. It looks a bit wonky, and I kind of like its unapologetically devil-may-care-look. And, let’s be honest here. If you were a chocolate peanut butter cake with salted caramel sauce, you wouldn’t care about how you look either.
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CAKE WITH SALTED CARAMEL
For peanut butter sponge cake:
- 140 g unsalted butter, softened
- 150 g smooth peanut butter, softened (preferably without added sugar or a lot of salt)
- 280 g caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 380 g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch of salt
- 12 tbsp milk, room temperature
For chocolate buttercream:
- 500 g unsalted butter, softened
- 500 g icing sugar, sifted
- 7 tbsp milk, room temperature
- 120 g cocoa powder, sifted
For salted caramel:
- 200 g casted sugar
- 90 g unsalted butter
- 180 mL double cream
- 2 tsp sea salt
For peanut butter sponge cake:
Preheat oven to 175 ºC (350 ºF) and line a baking tray with greaseproof/baking paper. Use a shallow baking tray (I've used a 10 x 14" rectangular tray 1 inch deep).
- Cream together butter, peanut butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract.
- Add eggs, one at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
- Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until well incorporated.
- Mix in the milk.
- Add the remaining 1/2 of the flour mixture and mix until well incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix (otherwise the sponge can become rubbery).
- Transfer 1/2 of the sponge mix into the baking tray, levelling and smoothing out the surface.
Bake at 175 ºC (350 ºF) for about 20 minutes or until golden and a skewer/toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove the sponge from the baking tray, re-line the baking tray, and transfer the other 1/2 of the sponge mix into it. Bake as the first sponge.
- Leave both sponges to cool completely before assembling the cakes.
For chocolate buttercream:
- Using either a hand mixer with whisk attachments, or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat/whisk butter and 1/2 of icing sugar for 5 minutes on medium to high speed (increase the speed slowly to avoid having the kitchen covered in icing sugar).
- Add the milk and the other 1/2 of icing sugar. Beat/whisk the mixture on medium to high speed for about 10 minutes until pale an fluffy.
- Add the cocoa powder and beat/whisk thoroughly until evenly incorporated.
For salted caramel:
- Heat caster sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- The sugar may form clumps but will eventually melt into a thick golden brown liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn the caramel.
- Once the sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. On its addition, the caramel will bubble rapidly – be careful.
- Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes. The butter will tend to separate from the caramel – just stir vigorously.
- Very slowly, drizzle in the double cream while stirring. The mixture will rapidly bubble due to the temperature difference and may splatter – be careful.
- Allow the mixture to boil for about 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
- Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Allow to cool down before using.
- Any leftover salted caramel sauce (what's that?) keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Trim off the edges of the cooled sponges, and cut each sponge into halves to get 4 pieces of equal dimensions.
- Assemble the cake in the order: sponge, buttercream, sponge, buttercream, sponge, buttercream, sponge. (Sorry, that was patronising.)
- Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining buttercream, smoothing out the buttercream in the final step. (Note 2)
- Allow the cake to cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour before drizzling the salted caramel sauce (this way, you'll have more control over the extent of the drizzle).
- Drizzle the cooled frosted cake with the desired amount of salted caramel sauce.
- Let the caramel to set (it will thicken somewhat), and – enjoy!
- The cake keeps well in a cool place/ in the fridge for about 3 – 4 days (good luck with that).
Note 1: In making this cake, I've baked two sponges, each in a 10 x 14" rectangular tray 1 inch deep baking tray. I then trimmed the sponges to get rectangles, which I then halved to get 4 layers. You can just as well bake your sponges in round baking trays. Changing the amount or thickness of the sponge being baked will require you to adjust the baking time somewhat (use the toothpick test to determine when the sponge is baked). Note also that you can either make all the sponge mix at once and bake the two sponges one after the other, or make two separate sponge mixes (so that part of the mix doesn't stand around while the first part bakes).
Note 2: If you notice that the initial coatings of buttercream have a lot of sponge crumbs in them, crumb coat the cake before the final buttercream finish (that is, coat the cake in a this layer of buttercream and put it in the fridge for about an hour to seal the crumbs inside).
Looking for more cakespiration? Then you’ll love my Coconut Orange Mini Cakes!