From the moment Edwin and I saw this cake, we knew it was always our destiny to bake it.

And its creation had special meaning for me. I first learned of this cake a few months ago from mine and my husband’s friend Jeff. Jeff found the cake on Smitten Kitchen and demanded that we spend a day baking and gorging ourselves on it. He found out a few weeks after this that the cancer he’d had for two years was terminal, but he had such an incredible attitude that he just continued making plans for things he wanted to do, see and eat. Making this cake together remained on the top of his list.

young jeff, heather, morganold morgan, heather, jeff

Unfortunately things went down hill incredibly fast, and my husband, Morgan, and I were with Jeff when he died in mid-September. The three of us had been friends for a long time; he was the best man in our July wedding, one month before he found out he was terminal and two months before he died. I think there may always be a hole in our lives and in our hearts where he was.

Pouring the Batter

A few weeks ago Edwin sent me a link for this cake. I thought about the plans I had to make it with Jeff and I hesitated. Then I remembered how after Jeff’s death, at his request, we had thrown a celebration of his life where each of his friends either brought over a dish they had shared with him or some food that he loved. I realized that making this cake with Edwin was probably an excellent way to honor my friend and celebrate the things he loved most – food and friends.

Spreading Closeup

For the First Time on DINNERCAKES, Edwin and Heather Unite:

Thus, Edwin and I set a date and embarked on what we both knew would be a challenging journey. The elusive sour-cream chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and chocolate-peanut butter glaze had been taunting us to bake it for quite a while.

The result – “This might be the best cake I’ve ever had,” crowed Edwin.

Even Morgan agreed, who can usually take or leave cakes. Nothing was overpowering about the cake, and although it may appear dense in photos, it’s actually very light and incredibly moist.

Chocolate Glaze Pour

However, it is extremely rich. A cold glass of milk is vital for the prevention of a sugar-induced coma. This beauty of a cake packs away 2 ½ cups of sugar in the cake batter and 5 cups of confectioners’ sugar in the frosting. If you have diabetes or a heart condition, this cake is not for you!

But now that all is said and done, our dream cake has been enjoyed and divvied up between us, and we’ve exceeded our sugar quota for the entire week, we can’t think of a better way to kick off Thanksgiving week and the holiday season than to share this amazing recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake - So GoodThe First Cut - Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Edwin and I are thankful for good friends, good food and good times past and present. And I am thankful that, although I did not get to make this cake with Jeff, I was able to share so many other wonderful memories with him.

Hope this beautiful cake kick-starts your Monday! Happy Thanksgiving week from Dinnercakes!

Perfect Slice - Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Triple Layer Cake
Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans (we used three 9-inch rounds so our cakes came out a little thinner). Cut three rounds of parchment paper to line the bottom of each pan; butter the parchment paper.

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add in oil and sour cream; whisk to blend. Beat in water gradually (we used a stand mixer, but you can also use a whisk). Add vinegar and vanilla. Beat in eggs until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure batter is well-mixed. Divide evenly between 3 prepared pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test. Cool in the pans for 10-20 minutes. Turnout onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and firm them up in the freezer for 30 minutes.

To frost, place one layer flat side up on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread Peanut Butter Frosting evenly on top, repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting – you are going to make a crumb coat; this part is crucial (a crumb coat keeps crumbs from showing up on your final layer of frosting).

Put the cake (with a thin layer of the peanut butter frosting all over) back in the freezer for 20 minutes. The frosting will now be somewhat firm on the cake, now you can use the remaining frosting to cover the entire cake, without a crummy mess! When fully frosted, you may want to chill again for 10 minutes.

To decorate with the glaze, set the cake plate on a sheet of parchment paper to catch drips. Pour the glaze directly over the center of the cake, and using a spatula, spread it lightly over the top and to the edges so that it falls down the sides in large drips. To set the cake, you may want to refrigerate it again when you’re done. Edwin and I didn’t make it that far and instead we chowed down immediately.

Peanut Butter Frosting
0 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

Beat the cream cheese, butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy in a large bowl with a mixer. Add the confectioners’ sugar gradually, mixing thoroughly and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat until blended, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

I didn’t have a double boiler, so we used to the microwave method, heating for 15 seconds at a time and stirring after each 15 second interval. If you do have a double boiler or a metal bowl that you can set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook while whisking often until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Last, remove from the heat, whisk in the half-and-half and beat until smooth. Pour over the cake while still warm.

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13 Responses to “A Labor of Love: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Triple Layer Cake, In Memory of Jeff”

  1. What a wonderful tribute to your friend. I’m sorry for your loss.

  2. Anonymous says:

    That looks really tasty!

  3. Ingrid says:

    What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it with me. Sounds like your Jeff was an incredible person and friend! I’m very sorry about your loss.

  4. Thank you for sharing this recipe!! Really great cake! I was making it today… reduced only a little bit of sugar and oil, replaced vanilla with orange and chocolate glaze with pistachios 🙂

  5. Chef Edwin says:

    Nice. I’m curious as to how noticeable the orange extract was.

  6. Renee says:

    I made two of these cakes for 2 different Christmas parties, and at both they were the star of the show. I will be sending a link to your blog to ALL of the people who asked for the recipe. Thank you

  7. Renee – Wow, making two of these would be quite an undertaking! Glad it was such a hit.

  8. Margaret says:

    Wow, Heather, I am utterly impressed with your website and blogging skills! I've just started looking at and it's awesome! Jeff would have been most proud about a peanut butter chocolate cake. He would have stuffed his face (and gotten food all up in his teeth). 🙂

  9. Thanks, Margaret! In September I asked him for the recipe and said I'd make it and bring it down with me – but he got so pissed that I suggested making it without him! He would probably get it all up in his teeth… and leave it there!

  10. […] make a cake. After looking though my delicious account, I decided to try Smitten Kitchen’s Peanut Butter and Chocolate cake. So I went to all the trouble of making the cake layers and the two different kinds of icing and […]

  11. Olga says:


  12. Julia says:

    Hi Heather,

    Just wanted to let you know I made this cake for my Grandma’s 92nd birthday. She’s not doing well so this might be the last birthday we have with her but hopefully not. Anyway, the cake was a great success and completely delicious. Made a couple changes to suit the family tastes (used two ripe bananas instead of oil in the batter, reduced sugar in the frosting, reduced a little sugar in the cake and substituted cake flour to balance out the fluffiness quotient) and it was definitely a hit with everybody. Also, if you have extra peanut butter icing, it tastes incredible on butter biscuits topped with m&ms 🙂

  13. Patria Riter says:

    Hi, I tried this cake recipe few hours ago but somehow couldn’t achieve the same result as you, my cake definitely wasn’t looking that good (atleast it tasted good). What sort of chocolate are you using? Maybe it’s coming from the flour I used, I have a gluten intolerance so I used millet flour instead of regular wheat flour.