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Is there any better combination than peanut butter and chocolate? Nah! This recipe features a delightful vegan chocolate cake topped with a heavenly peanut butter frosting.
Vegan Comfort Cooking
I am thrilled to be sharing this recipe from the cookbook Vegan Comfort Cooking by Melanie McDonald. Melanie is a fellow vegan food blogger at A Virtual Vegan. Her blog features beautiful, delicious recipes and her new cookbook is absolutely no exception.
In full disclosure, I was sent a complimentary copy of Vegan Comfort Cooking to write this review.
You can purchase a copy of this on Amazon and anywhere else that sells books in the USA.
In Vegan Comfort Cooking you will find 75 (let's say that again - SEVENTY-FIVE!) vegan recipes centering around a comfort food theme. Breakfast, brunch, entrees, appetizers, snacks, desserts...all the favorites. Each recipe is accompanied by a stunning photograph, which is something I always look for in a cookbook. It is so helpful to see what the end result of a recipe will look like.
I also love the adorable names of the recipes in this cookbook. "I Can't Believe It's Vegan" Roasted Garlic Alfredo, The Whole Enchilada Casserole, There's No Such Thing as Too Much Garlic Bread, and Pizza Party Pull-Apart Bread are just a handful.
The dessert chapter houses an incredible recipe titled Peanut Butter Nutter Chocolate Cake. And with permission from Melanie, I will be sharing this recipe with you!
Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
My mom's favorite flavor combination is peanut butter and chocolate, so at one point when I was probably 18, I attempted to make her a peanut butter chocolate cake. She said she liked it (thanks, Mom!), but it was a total fail in my book. I even followed a recipe I found online! The cake was flavorless and the frosting was...not even spreadable like frosting should be.
My baking skills have improved (see this easy and delicious vegan carrot cake recipe!) But I still never mastered the perfect peanut butter chocolate cake...until now.
First, of course, we start off by greasing and lining an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper. By leaving some overlap with the parchment, you create handles that will help you remove the cake when it's finished baking. It is truly the worst when cake sticks to the pan, but there is really no chance of that happening with this recipe if you follow these instructions.
Then, we move on to making the cake batter. The batter consistency reminds me of a brownie batter, yum, and it is fairly straight forward to make. The recipe calls for instant coffee or espresso as an optional but recommended ingredient. And I concur - chocolate cake is always better with a little coffee in the mix.
The key to making a lovely, moist cake is to not over-bake. Don't even think about it. Slightly under-baking is better than over-baking. You'll find some great tips on knowing when this cake is ready to come out of the oven in the recipe card below.
While the cake cools, it's time to make the decadent peanut butter frosting. I want to put this frosting on EVERYTHING. I'd even eat it on mashed potatoes. Just kidding. Maybe.
The frosting is pretty simple to make. While beating, you will slowly add the powdered sugar and vegan milk to the peanut butter.
Keep in mind that it may not start to look like frosting until you've added pretty much all of the powdered sugar and milk. Mine was looking clumpy and I was worried that I messed something up but it ended up coming together perfectly in the end! Both the texture and appearance of this frosting reminded me of caramel.
Make sure the cake has cooled completely before adding the frosting. I know it's super tempting to jump the gun, but patience pays off!
The final verdict from me: 5/5 stars! The cake is moist and has the perfect peanut butter-to-chocolate ratio, and did I mention how much I love the frosting?
Peanut Butter Nutter Chocolate Cake
- Oil or vegan butter, for pan
- ⅓ cup (86g) natural peanut butter (see tips)
- 1½ cups (360 ml) unsweetened nondairy milk
- 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
- ½ cup (123 g) unsweetened applesauce or peeled and pureed cooked sweet potato
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) apple cider vinegar (see note on page 38)
- ½ teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder (optional but recommended; it really brings out the chocolate flavor)
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (200 g) cane or granulated white sugar
- ¾ cup (65 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp (8 g) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt (use only ¼ teaspoon if your peanut butter contains salt)
- ½ cup (90 g) vegan chocolate chips (see note on page 37)
- ¾ cup (194 g) natural peanut butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt (use only ⅛ teaspoon if your peanut butter contains salt)
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoon (146 g) powdered sugar
- 4 to 7 tbsp (60 to 105 ml) unsweetened nondairy milk
- Prepare the cake. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and grease an 8-inch (20.5-cm) square pan with oil or vegan butter. Cut a rectangle of parchment paper as wide as your pan and long enough to cover the bottom and 2 opposite sides with enough overhang to act as handles for lifting out the cake once it’s been baked. The oil or butter will help keep it in place.
- Put the peanut butter in a bowl and gradually add the nondairy milk, whisking as you go, to incorporate the peanut butter into the milk. Then add the vanilla, applesauce, vinegar and coffee; stir together really well.
- In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Pour the peanut butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir together gently. Do not beat it and do not over mix; stop when all the flour has just been absorbed. Add the chocolate chips and gently stir again to distribute. Then immediately pour into the prepared pan and bake for 37 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is coming away from the edges and, if you press on the top of it with a finger, it feels firm with a little bit of give. A toothpick inserted into the middle should come out almost clean. You might hit a melted chocolate chip, so bear that in mind when checking. To keep the cake nice and moist, it is important not to over bake it. It’s better to under bake it very slightly.
- Remove the cake from the oven and lift it gently out of the pan, using the parchment paper “handles.” Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Prepare the frosting. In a medium bowl, beat the peanut butter with the salt until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating as you go. It will likely get a little stiff, and when it does, add nondairy milk a tablespoon (15 ml)at a time, stopping when it reaches a thick, gloopy, yet pourable consistency.
- Place the cake on a plate, and then pour the frosting over the cake, using a spatula to spread it out, if necessary. It will run down the sides in places. Allow the frosting to firm up a little before serving. You can hurry it along by chilling it in the fridge for around 30 minutes.