After trying a cheesecake sandwiched between cake layers, I'm not entirely convinced why every cheesecake shouldn't be paired with cake and every cake paired with cheesecake. So, as I contemplated what I wanted to make for my birthday, I decided a peanut butter cheesecake sandwiched between two chocolate cakes coated in peanut butter frosting and drizzled with chocolate sounded appropriately delicious.
This cake does require some preparation time, but it's completely worth it. The cakes and cheesecake can be prepared ahead of time and frozen until the day you assemble your masterpiece.
I adapted my cheesecake layer from Brown Eyed Baker (although I still want to make her cheesecake in its original format).
Chocolate Peanut Butter CheeseCake
24 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, divided
1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups creamy peanut butter
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
4 Tbsp. milk (or as needed)
Peanut butter cups
To prepare cheesecake layer, preheat oven to 300ºF, and place a shallow roasting pan in the middle of the oven. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil on the stove. Line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper in the bottom, and spray with nonstick spray. Wrap a double layer of foil around the bottom and sides of the pan to seal out water during the water bath baking stage.
Beat together cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar and then vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Beat an additional 20 seconds after scraping the bowl. Pour cheesecake into pan, and smooth the top.
Place cheesecake in roasting pan, and carefully add water to the roasting pan to fill it about 1 inch. Even more carefully, place roasting pan and cheesecake into the oven. Bake cheesecake for 1 hour or until center is slightly jiggly. (Mine took about 5 to 10 more minutes.)
Cool cheesecake completely on a wire rack, and then remove sides/bottom. Place cheesecake in the freezer until ready to assemble the cake.
To prepare the cakes, preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour two 9-inch
round metal baking pans. Line the bottom with rounds of parchment
paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder,
baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add espresso powder, eggs, 1/4 cup
of the buttermilk, butter and vanilla to the flour mixture. Using an
electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat for 1 minute, until blended.
Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high
speed for 2 minutes. Add the remaining buttermilk, and beat on low
speed for 15 to 30 seconds, until just blended. Spread the batter
evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 30 to 35 minutes
or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist
crumbs attached. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a
knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack and
remove parchment paper rounds to cool completely.
To make the peanut butter frosting, beat butter and peanut butter
together until well mixed. Gradually add powdered sugar. When mixture
gets thick, slowly incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time as needed
to keep frosting spreadable. Beat at least three minutes to make
Apply a crumb coat layer of frosting to the cake using a long, thin
spatula to cover the cake completely with a thin and even layer of
frosting. Be sure to wipe off your spatula each time you are about to
dip it back into the bowl to get more frosting to avoid transferring
crumbs. Don't worry at this point about the crumbs being visible in the
frosting on the cake. When your cake has a thin layer of frosting all
over it, place it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to "set" the
Once the first layer of frosting is set, apply the second layer. Start
by adding a large scoop of frosting onto the top of the cake. Use a
long, thin spatula to spread the frosting evenly across the top and
then spread it down the sides of the cake too. Because you applied a
crumb-coat layer, you shouldn't have any crumbs floating around in the
final frosting layer. Garnish with peanut butter cups as desired. Drizzle with chocolate sauce immediately prior to serving.
Keep this cake refrigerated until approximately an hour prior to devouring its deliciousness. It should serve an awful lot because it's a very tall cake, but it's also a very delicious cake.