Last week I shared one of our Christmas traditions with a recipe that came from Mr. Sellman’s side of the family – these super delish Pie Crust Cookies – oh my goodness are they good. While definitely hard to beat, I wanted to give a little love to a tradition that comes from my side of the family. My family is a tad more chocolate focused when it comes to Christmas goodies. As in, we dip anything and everything into chocolate and viola, Christmas dessert! Pretzels, raisins, nuts, Oreos and on and on. All this dipping started back in the 80’s when we were kids and the list of things we wanted to smother in chocolate seemed to grow from year to year. The one staple that always made the must-dip-in-chocolate list? Peanut Butter Balls!
My mother, two sisters and I made chocolate covered peanut butter balls every. single. year. growing up. Ah, the memories of sticky hands from rolling peanut butter into tiny balls and then hovering around the double boiler with my sisters, dipping our peanut butter balls into the melted chocolate… hoping they didn’t fall off the toothpick and drown in the chocolate. Inevitably, someone would complain that the other peanut butter balls were too messy. I cannot confirm nor deny that crazy person was me — let’s just say thank goodness we’re sisters and the love is unconditional. I love you girls!
A few years ago, it came to my attention that some of you know these little guys as Buckeyes. I think they’ll forever be Peanut Butter Balls to me. But whatever you call them, they are delicious! How can you go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate? Today’s cake captures all of those flavors and all those memories in one – somewhat outrageous and definitely chocolate smothered – cake recipe.
It all starts with the peanut butter balls. From there, we move on to a rich chocolate cake, filled and frosted with a creamy peanut butter buttercream. Then comes the chocolate ganached poured over the top and drizzled down the sides. Eight swirls of frosting create a decorative border and act as teeny tiny pedestals for the actual peanut butter balls. Because there are so many different components this cake, I went with simple recipes. So even though there are numerous steps, they are all relatively straight forward and can be broken up over several days to fit with your busy schedule. Here’s how it all comes together….
PEANUT BUTTER BALL CAKE
a recipe by Carrie Sellman
For the Peanut Butter Balls (makes about 24)
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 pound powdered sugar
6 ounces chocolate chips
- Using an electric mixer, blend peanut butter and butter together until smooth.
- Add vanilla and then powdered sugar. Mix to combine.
- Roll peanut butter into round balls and place onto a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until cold.
- Melt chocolate in a double boiler over low heat or in a microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each heating.
- Using a toothpick, dip peanut butter balls into chocolate to coat. Place back onto parchment paper. Refrigerate until chocolate is set.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to use or eat.
For the Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1 cup boiling water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put a kettle of water on to boil. Butter and lightly flour three 8″ round pans.
- In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add in eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and espresso powder. Mix on medium speed for two minutes.
- Add boiling water and mix to combine.
- Divide batter evenly between three prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cake is done with a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool 10 minutes before inverting cakes from pans. Cool completely before assembling cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate if not using until tomorrow.
For the Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
9 tablespoons milk
1/3 teaspoon salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and peanut butter on medium speed until well combined.
- Add vanilla and salt. Mix again.
- Mix in powdered sugar in several batches.
- Add milk and whip until fluffy.
For the Chocolate Ganache
6 ounces chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
Place chocolate chips into medium bowl and set aside. Heat cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat just until it almost starts to simmer. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let sit for about 5 minutes and then stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in corn syrup.
To Assemble the Cake
Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with one cup of frosting and set aside.
Place one layer of cake onto serving plate or cake stand and top with about one cup of frosting. Repeat with second cake layer, more frosting and then last cake layer. Crumb coat and frost cake with remaining peanut butter frosting. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until frosting is set. Drizzle chocolate ganache over the top with small drips overflowing the edge. Smooth as desired with offset spatula. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until ganache is set.
Using your reserved frosting, pipe 8 small swirls of frosting evenly spaced around the edge of cake. Top each swirl with a peanut butter ball.
Store in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
Find all of our holiday recipes and tutorials in our Christmas Gallery!