An Explosion of Chocolate

Slices: Chocolate Layer Cake with Peanut Butter Buttercream Filling

We were celebrating a birthday at our house this weekend. I love baking a cake for family on their special day and this was no exception. Executing on a big idea is risky. This cake was right on target for success… just until the finish line and I blew it.

I was sad and disappointed in myself and my people were sweet and kind about it. I absolutely believed them when they said, “It looks great!” … and I knew it wasn’t right.

Our family isn’t any different than most families.. we love chocolate and peanut butter. This cake is a no-brainer for winning the day and sitting around the table with a forkful of buttercream.

The sponge layers are Chocolate Layer Cake and the buttercream is the same as any other Vanilla Buttercream with about 1/2c smooth peanut butter per 2 sticks of butter. Mix well, add powdered sugar, 1t vanilla, and 1T milk. I found Kerry Gold butter measured in ounces at the store (having been used to grams when we lived in Heidelberg, this was new to my eyes).

The chocolate was saved for later when it was time to make the ganache for drizzly, drippy bits.
Melted chocolate sounded like the right thing to do between layers.
The 6″, double layer piece was ready for the fridge after adding filling and a crumb coat.

Once the top tier of the cake was completed, it was back to the beginning with the 9″, double layer base component.

That’s a generous layer of filling. It makes a difference on a cake like this considering the importance of both flavors working together.
The melted chocolate was added to the ganache in order to not have waste.
Even layers are the direct result of preparing each cake pan – measuring each cake pan – and adding the same number of grams per pan. If the pans have a different weight when empty, the same difference should still be in place when the pans are filled.

Both tiers of chocolate and peanut butter were ready for final construction. While they were setting up in the cake fridge, I made the Chocolate Ganache. Martha Stewart likes to use 63% cocao…I love a Ghirardelli Chocolate bar for the job.

For 1.5 cups of whole milk, I used 3 bars of chocolate and the remaining melted chocolate from one bar.

Under normal circumstances, I believe the infrastructure of these three bubble tea straws would have been enough to hold the cake in balance.

There’s never any doubt my Homer Laughlin Fiesta Dinnerware will handle the cake. This 12″ Cake Plate is designed to provide a stable base for whatever the baker can create… and look amazing while doing just that!

Wanting to have a waterfall look, I placed the top tier toward the back instead of center… another mistake. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t have been such a serious error.

That ganache was perfectly blended with just the right amount of whole milk and chocolate. It piped on like a dream.

The top of the cake was to be “an explosion of chocolate” … in hindsight I shouldn’t have chosen such a description. My intent was to add many types of yummy chocolate treats. In doing so, three things happened:

the weight of the chocolate added up one Kiss/Oreo/Reese Cup at a time

driving chocolate into the tier broke down the integrity of the sponge

the cardboard cake round supporting the top tier prevented longer sticks from anchoring in the base

I like the waterfall of chocolate… and it’s easy to see that the cake was listing.

Let’s add all that up…

  • not enough infrastructure
  • off-set to the back of the bottom tier – not enough weight displacement
  • weight of the chocolate
  • executing placement of each piece
  • cake round preventing some pieces to anchor

Good news! This cake tasted amazing! It was so delicious. At just the right angle, the leaning was less noticeable. However, we still had dinner before singing and cake; I was certain gravity would take its toll. Which did happen while in the fridge… necessitating a bit of a repair/reconstruction? Anyone else ever have a moment of, “just don’t look at the back”? It was somewhat like serving the pancakes “good side up.”

Good news, I’ll try this one again soon. I hope I’ve been able to spot all the factors that contributed to … this learning moment. (I hate to say ‘cake fail’ based on taste.)

I love that my life partner and I are still expanding our love for one another.

I love that our kids visit us and we’re in each other’s lives.

I love that sobriety remains a priority.

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2 Responses

  1. Allysa says:

    You are an inspiration! And sometimes we have beautiful disasters!!

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