Chocolate Cake With Peanut Butter Frosting & Salty Peanuts

March 17, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 16
Author Notes

There’s not a combination more irresistible than chocolate and peanut butter. Whether they’re combined in a candy bar, sandwiched into a cookie, or buddied up in a brownie, it’s a dynamic duo that simply can’t be beat.

This chocolate cake is inspired by a Texas sheet cake recipe I recently fell in love with. Because of its sheer simplicity, I’m sure it’s a recipe you’ll come to love as much as I do. Keeping in tradition with its origin, the cake is baked in a sheet pan. But once baked and cooled, it’s removed with the help of a parchment paper sling, cut in half, and layered with peanut butter frosting.

The supremely smooth frosting is so good that even diehard crunchy peanut butter lovers will find it irresistible. A few tablespoons of heavy cream create a luscious, fluffy, undeniably rich icing that’s a perfect compliment to the bittersweet chocolate cake. To achieve supreme smoothness, conventional sweetened peanut butter is recommended for the frosting. Using a natural unsweetened substitute may lead to a gritty, not-sweet-enough frosting.

Lastly, the cake is topped with crumbled cake trimmings. If you’re looking for more texture, chopped peanuts make a fine addition—and if they’re salted, even better!

Since the sides are unfrosted, be sure to keep the cake covered. A big bowl or container inverted over top works well as a make-shift cake dome. Otherwise, the cake can be loosely covered with plastic wrap. The cake is best kept at room temperature, as the fridge tends to diminish it’s moisture. Leftovers can be stored the same way for up to three days. After that, you could wrap pieces individually in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer. Your future self will surely thank you. —Grant Melton

What You'll Need
  • Chocolate cake
  • 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups (256 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (64 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (123 grams) buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • Peanut butter froting
  • 1 1/2 cups (396 grams) creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups (375 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 handful chopped salted peanuts, for garnish (optional)
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a half sheet pan (12x17-inch or 13x18-inch, depending on the pan) with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper leaving an inch or two of overhand on each side for easy removal. Lightly grease the parchment.
  2. To make the cake, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Heat 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once simmering, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and cocoa powder. Whisk until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly.
  4. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Add the cooled cocoa mixture, buttermilk, and eggs and mix using a hand mixer or whisk until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cake has doubled in size and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove and let cool completely.
  6. Once the cake is cool, invert it onto a large cutting board and trim 1/2 inch off of each side. Cut the cake in half so you have two rectangles that are approximately 8x12-inch. Crumble the trimmed edges into a bowl and reserve for topping the cake.
  7. To make the frosting, add the peanut butter and butter ito a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until well combined. On the lowest speed, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Once combined, add the salt, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Once incorporated, increase the speed to high and beat for about 30 seconds, until light and fluffy.
  8. To build the cake, place one of the cake halves, bottom side up, on a platter. Evenly slather half of the frosting onto the cake and spread covering the top of the cake, leaving the sides bare. Top with the second half and then slather the remaining frosting over top. Smooth the frosting, then sprinkle with some of the reserved cake crumbles and salted peanuts if using.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Michelez
  • Rita Garland
    Rita Garland

2 Reviews

Michelez April 4, 2021
Thanks, Grant, for a fun, easy cake! I decided to cut the sheet in fourths. The recipe produces abundant frosting, plenty for four layers. Next time I'll try cutting the peanut butter in half. We thought it overpowered the chocolate cake. I found a peanut butter chocolate dipped pretzel snack at my grocer for over-the-top decoration (Snappers) PS... You might add the cup of water to the ingredient list in this recipe.
Rita G. March 17, 2021
One of the easiest and best cakes I've made. I was tempted to not frost cake and just eat the whole bowl of frosting with a spoon. Makes a great presentation. I would use the chocolate cake with other frostings also ... very moist. Freezes well.