Dark Chocolate Cake With Peanut Butter Mousse

From the pages of Cake Central Magazine's November 2013 issue, Rachel Conners shares her recipe for the perfect chocolate peanut butter cake, dropping with chocolate and garnished with peanuts.

Chocolate and peanut butter have a special place in Rachel Conners’ heart and in her recipes. Her ultra-decadent chocolate peanut butter cake is not only a tribute to her loved ones, but also to this classic flavor combination.

By Rachel Conners

Although I was a painfully picky eater growing up, I’ve never been one to turn down  dessert of any kind. As a little girl, I remember telling my parents I was full from my “real” dinner, but that my dessert compartment always had some room left, especially for a little bit of chocolate or ice cream. My dad, being newly single with two daughters aged six and four, was always more likely to give in to my requests (probably because he was just as obsessed with dessert as I was).

There was little discussion between my dad and me of the type of dessert we would have—  it was always chocolate. I come from a long line of chocolate lovers; my dad still remembers sitting with his grandfather, listening to him tell stories over big bowls of chocolate ice cream. He related the warmth and sweetness of chocolate to the great times he had with his grandfather, and he’s passed the love onto me. However, early on we added something to the tradition to make it our own: peanut butter.

If it’s an option to get something with chocolate and peanut butter, my dad and I will say yes every time. The smooth creaminess of peanut butter complemented by the rich flavors of chocolate are a match made in heaven. I still remember the first tastes of those flavors, devouring them in a peanut butter cup, ice cream or anywhere else we could get them. Together, they remind me of my dad, just the way chocolate reminds my dad of his grandfather.

When I developed this recipe, I wanted to make something that would be rich, decadent and showcase my dad’s two favorite flavors. To my delight, the outcome turned out better than I could have imagined! The layers of ultra-dark chocolate cake paired with  light and creamy peanut butter mousse are blissful perfection, and the boiled fudge frosting complements without overpowering the cake or filling. Best of all, it elicited the exact response in my dad I had hoped for: “This is the best cake I’ve ever tasted. It’s perfect.”

The first time I shared it with him, we sat at the kitchen table, eating our slices of cake and talking with mouths full of chocolate and peanut butter, creating our own memories and continuing a love of chocolate that will be passed down for generations to come.

Yield: One 2-layer, 8-inch round cake.

Chocolate Cake Layers

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for pans

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon coarse salt

3 large eggs

1 cup lowfat buttermilk

1 cup warm water

⅓ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup sour cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and dust with flour, tapping out excess.

Mix together flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and coarse salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined.

Add eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, sour cream and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

Divide batter evenly among pans. Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

Let cool in pans for 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks and let cool completely before assembly.

Peanut Butter Mousse Filling

1½ cups whipping cream

1½ cups smooth peanut butter

1½ packages cream cheese

1½ cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat peanut butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until completely combined.

Add powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, and beat until well-blended.

Using clean, dry beaters, beat 2 cups whipping cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form.

Fold the whipped cream into peanut butter mixture in 4 additions. Keep refrigerated until use.

Boiled Fudge Frosting

2 cups white sugar

½ cup butter

½ cup evaporated milk

1 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

Assemble cake completely before making frosting.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, milk and cocoa powder. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Bring to a boil and let boil for one minute.

Take off heat and whisk in vanilla. Use immediately.


Using a sharp knife, trim the top of the cake layers to create a level surface. Cut each in half horizontally to create a total of four equal layers.

Transfer one layer onto the serving plate and add ⅓ of the peanut butter filling. Spread evenly and repeat with remaining cake layers and filling, leaving the top layer uncovered.

Make the boiled fudge frosting and pour over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Let cool until set. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Comments (4)


Sheer decadence and a trillion calories a glance let alone a lick- I bet! Still gonna make it and still gonna eat it. I'll let ya know if it translates into gluten free... I can see no conceivable reason why it shouldn't. 


I have made this cake twice now and everyone loves it. The second time I made it gluten free and you couldn't tell the difference between the regular one and the gf one. I know I will be making this cake for years to come.