Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake

I finished writing my first novel on Friday, September 6, 2013 at 1:08pm EDT, and I celebrated with cake.

In January, I started with one idea that developed into a contemporary romance novel that transformed into a great story about family, love, happiness and faith.

It celebrates starting over and second chances. And the love scenes aren’t that bad either.

Writing a novel is challenge, especially when your life doesn’t care that you want to finish writing your story before your first grandchild is born. I’d start each day with the intention of writing two hours straight without interreuption, but what I ended up with was a word document with three sentences that took me four hours to complete.  Something always kept me from writing, however, I’d push through and get it done. I’d get up early and write or stay up late and write. I required myself  to be happy with whatever I wrote for that day and move on.  This kept me from being disappointed or discouraged, and eventually I finished

My mantra for nine months was “just finish the story.”

Now that the first draft is complete, I have the exciting, yet daunting, task of self-editing a few times until it becomes the book I want. Then I’ll submit it for a professional edit so it can become the novel it was destined to be.

In October, I will begin part two of the story. I have a better idea of what to do and what not to do, and hopefully writing the second book won’t be so coocoo crazy.

A girl can dream.

Since I’m a celebration eater, the first thing I did was make a chocolate cake.  For me, chocolate cake represents all that is right with the world.  It’s my go to treat, next to bacon cheeseburgers–I have a really good one in mind when I finish the second book. More on that later.

As always, I used ingredients I had on hand, and when I found a bag of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups in the freezer I knew exactly what cake I wanted to make. The Hershey’s chocolate cake on the back of the cocoa can is an old stand by that works every time. The icing is a basic buttercream with peanut butter added to it. I garnished the cake with chopped honey peanuts on the sides and the mini peanut butter cups on top. Then viola! The perfect cake to honor the dedication necessary to complete a novel.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake, adapted from the Hershey’s Especially Dark Chocolate Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake

This cake also works well with regular Hershey’s cocoa powder.

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Special Dark Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 cup honey roasted peanuts, finely chopped
2 cups mini peanut butter cups, cut in half

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch round baking pans with baking spray. Line with parchment rounds, spray the paper.

Whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat the batter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low , add the boiling water.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes,  until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on  wire racks.


While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting.

Beat the butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. On low speed, add  1/2 of the confectioner’s sugar. Mix in 1/4 cup of the cream. Mix in the remaining confectioners’ sugar. If necessary, add a little more cream  until the frosting reaches a good spreading consistency.

To assemble the cake, place the first cake layer on a 9-inch cake board, top side up.  Evenly spread about 1 cup of the icing on top.


Add the second layer, top side down.


Apply a crumb coat  to the cake and refrigerate for 20 minutes to set the icing.


Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with 1 cup frosting. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing.


Apply the chopped peanuts to the sides of the frosted cake.


Pipe a boarder around the top of the cake.


Garnish with mini peanut butter cups.





5 thoughts on “Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake

  1. Mike, that cake looks delish and I’m obsessed with it. Going to make it this weekend. Congrats on the book, you’re following in your mom’s footsteps! Hope all is well with you and the fam :)

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