Yesterday was our 6th wedding anniversary, so I’ve been wracking my brain for the past few weeks, trying to decide just what I should make as the baked portion of my anniversary gift. I went for a fairly light and airy option for Valentine’s Day, so this time I decided to hit the opposite end of the spectrum with a Chocolate Brownie Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate Glaze! Yeah, there’s NOTHING low-fat about this recipe, but it’s soooooo worth it…
This is one of those recipes that was born from an ‘I wonder what would happen if I threw this into the mixer’ kind of day. I had cream cheese in the house after buying too much for another recipe, so I was looking for a way to get rid of it! I had some brownie mix on hand, and I’d seen plenty of recipes where cream cheese was used to make a separate element in a brownie, but never one that actually mixed it into the brownie itself. Fully expecting a baking disaster, I threw everything into the bowl and was very pleasantly surprised! The cream cheese adds a richness to the brownies that (in my opinion) takes the chocolate to the next level, and the texture is moister, like a very dense, rich cake.
Once I’d decided that the brownies themselves were a keeper, I started to think of other flavors to pair with such a rich chocolate. Peanut butter was the first thing on my list, and so I decided to bring a peanut butter frosting recipe I’d seen on The Barefoot Contessa into the mix. Again, it was a perfect fit!. Top it off with some of my favorite Shiny Chocolate Glaze, and you have…
Chocolate Brownie Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate Glaze
Please note that I specifically listed the Ghirardelli brand because a) they’re my favorite and b) I don’t have any others on hand, so I don’t know if the required ingredients are different. If you want to break out the Duncan Hines, etc., it should work just fine- all you need to do is follow the ingredients called for on the box and add one package of cream cheese for each mix used. I would like to try this with a recipe from scratch at some point, but let’s face it- when you’re in a pinch, a little bit of mix doctoring works just fine!
- 2 Boxes of Ghirardelli Brownie Mix (I used the Dark Chocolate variety, but the Double Chocolate and Triple Chocolate flavors are also really good!)
- 2 Eggs
- 2 8oz. Packages of Cream Cheese, softened/at room temperature
- 1/2 C Water
- 1 C Vegetable Oil
- Preheat oven to 350*
- Lightly spray two 9″ springform pans with cooking spray
- Combine cream cheese and eggs in a mixer and beat until combined
- Add water and oil and beat until combined
- Add brownie mix and beat until combined
- Divide the batter between the two pans and spread evenly with a spatula, smoothing the tops
- Bake at 350* (325* convection) for 40-45 minutes
- Remove to a wire baking rack. Cool for at least 30 minutes, and then release the lock on the springform to finish cooling. (Don’t worry about removing them from the pan entirely- that can wait until later, when you’re ready to assemble! This is a nice, dense cake, so it was very easy to move from pan to plate.)
Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Frosting
Credit for this recipe goes to Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. I’m a total peanut butter nut (pun intended), so this is one of my favorites! If you only intend to use the frosting between the brownie layers as I did above, one recipe will suffice. If you plan to use it all over (see my note on aesthetics at the bottom), you’ll want to at least double it. And if there happens to be some leftover to dip apples and pretzels, well, you can’t just let it go to waste, can you?…
- 1 C Confectioner’s Sugar
- 1 C Creamy Peanut Butter
- 5 T Unsalted Butter, softened
- 3/4 t Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 t Kosher Salt
- 1/3 C Heavy Cream
- Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment
- Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. (Side note- I have this fabulous SideSwipe spatula blade for my Kitchenaid, and it makes life so much easier at times like these!)
- Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.
Shiny Chocolate Glaze
Adapted from the Shiny Chocolate Glaze recipe found in The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn. While I usually go for a double recipe when I make glaze, a single recipe should do it for this particular cake.
- 2 TBS Butter
- 2 TBS Unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 C Heavy (whipping) cream, plus additional as needed
- 1 TSP Vanilla extract
- 1 C Powdered sugar (the original recipe says to sift, but I rarely do)
- 1 C Semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan
- Add the cocoa and cream, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Do not boil.
- Remove the pan from heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla until mixture is smooth
- Stir in the chocolate chips until melted, putting the pan over low heat again if needed, and adding a little more cream if the mixture seems too thick.
- Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake as directed above.
Now, to assemble…
As noted in the caption under the picture of the finished cake, I was kind of going for speed over beauty when I put everything together last night- we’d just gotten back from a very rare dinner without the kids, and I was rushing to get the dessert frosted and ready to eat while my husband put the kids to bed. I made a single recipe of the peanut butter frosting and put all of it between the brownie layers. I then poured the chocolate glaze over the top, going WAY overboard and using a lot more than I planned, so it kind of resembles that creature that lives in the Molasses Swamp in Candy Land.
Granted, it tastes great no matter how it looks. However, if I did it again, I would definitely change my plan of attack for a prettier end result! Next time I will do a better job of leveling the tops of my cake layers, and I plan to double (possibly triple) the peanut butter frosting recipe. I’ll sandwich the layers together with some peanut butter frosting, and then I’ll strategically poke holes through the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon or a dowel to inject the glaze into the cake itself (I recently picked up a large plastic squeeze bottle that is perfect for times like this). When the tunnels have been filled with glaze, I will then frost the entire cake with the peanut butter frosting, garnishing with some peanut butter cup candies and a drizzle of the chocolate glaze on top. Additional glaze can be used to garnish the dessert plates when serving. Much prettier in the end!
(Just to update, I made another one this week, following my plan above, and I was MUCH happier with how it turned out! I did the triple batch of peanut butter frosting, and a double batch of glaze. Like mentioned above, I sandwiched the layers with peanut butter frosting, infused the cake with the glaze, and then frosted all over with peanut butter frosting. I let the cake and the remaining frosting chill in the fridge to firm up for a few minutes. Once it was cool, I piped a scalloped edge of peanut butter frosting around the top and bottom of the cake, and then I flooded the top with the remaining chocolate glaze. With some chocolate flakes on top, it looked infinitely better than the original cake pictured above, and I liked the additional peanut butter, too! Sadly, I didn’t get a picture…)
Like I said, this isn’t the healthiest of desserts- it’s so rich that it’s one of those things you’ll probably only want once in a blue moon. Still, it’s definitely one of my favorites! Also, it’s REALLY good with sliced bananas on top, and bananas are fruit, so that should make it at least marginally healthy, right?… (Please, work with me in my delusion- it’s the little things that get me through the day! LOL)
Happy baking, and please share pictures if you give this a try- I’d love to see how you put the finished product together!