This was a birthday cake for someone special.
Someone who loves peanut butter and chocolate desserts and who can pretty much be counted on to choose that flavor if we are standing before a case line of 20 kinds of cupcakes. And since he grew up in Philly, I guess this could also be a nod to Tasty Kake’s Peanut butter Kandy Kake (which we don’t generally eat because they have trans fats in them. I know. No fun.) This was the dessert that followed his birthday dinner request which was this delicious Hot and Toasty Steak Sandwich. I realize now, in retrospect, that his birthday had an unplanned Philly theme running through it.
This treat starts with yellow cake, which is really a story unto its own. I have been testing and tweaking yellow cake recipes for years, trying to come up with that perfect balance for one of the most classic of cakes. Everyone claims to have a good one and trust me, I’ve tried them all and tweaked the rest. In fact, I ended up with two or three that I genuinely liked, but they were still not “the one.” I had to put the mission aside for awhile because I was drowning everyone I knew with yellow cake and we were all tired of the trials.
Enter Mel, from Mel’s kitchen, who said she had finally nailed a perfect yellow cake. I actually discovered her blog because of this cake, then subscribed and waited patiently for her to finally post it. She had gone down many of the roads and recipes I had, and she finally landed on her recipe for The Best Yellow Cake. I figured since so much of our research was similar, we must be looking for the same attributes. So I baked it. And it was delicious, with a lovely buttery flavor and nice crumb, certainly the best of all the iterations I had tried before. So, this is my current “go to” yellow cake. I’m sure I will keep tweaking and trying to make it even better, but the need isn’t urgent because this cake is so good. I’ve baked it at least five times now and it comes out great every time. Her post shares lots of information on the making of the cake, so I will be linking to it directly. I appreciate those who go through the trials and tribulations to perfect something. I’m even more appreciative when they share their hard work with the rest of us. Thanks, Mel!
Clearly then, this was going to be my choice as the base of a peanut butter chocolate cake. The filling is my own creation and the birthday boy specifically requested that it be creamy and light and not too peanut buttery. Done and done. He didn’t want the straight peanut butter filling that is traditionally used in a classic tandy cake. This filling is wonderfully creamy with a good balance of peanut butter flavor; it worked perfectly for this cake.
The ganache is heavenly. I was originally going to pour it over the top of the cake and let it just drizzle decoratively down the sides, but it was more fluid than I thought it would be and it ended up fully covering the cake, (while we were trying to capture the pouring shot, I might add.) This ended up being a very good thing (except for the fact that I was doing this on the serving plate and what you don’t see is me trying to get the cake off the now drenched plate and onto a rack so that the ganache could drip off properly and the cake plate could be cleaned.)
It was a bit of a mess; so now you know to wait until you’ve finished your ganache step before putting it on a serving platter. But it was all worth it, because the ganache makes the cake. It’s not too sweet and therefore, balances the sweetness of the yellow cake and marries beautifully with the creamy peanut butter filling. It sets to a creamy fudge. I love the texture and if you have any left over, it’s great spread on graham crackers or vanilla wafers or drizzled over fruit, and it’s particularly good on a spoon.
So, here’s to Hot and Toasty Steak Sandwiches , A Tandy Birthday Cake and Philly, the place where my true love was born. Happy birthday, love!
A Tandy Birthday Cake
- 1 baked and cooled 9" two layer yellow cake
- For the peanut butter filling:
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 stick unsalted butter softened
- 1/4 teaspoon salt rounded, or to taste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- For the ganache:
- 3 Tablespoons corn syrup
- 6 ounces heavy cream
- 12 ounces dark chocolate chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the ganache:
- In a small saucepan, combine the corn syrup and heavy cream.
- Bring to a simmer and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth.
- Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Set the ganache aside while you prepare the filling.
For the peanut butter filling:
- Beat butter and salt until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add peanut butter and continue beating for another minute or two.
- Add sugar and cream and beat until well combined.
- If using a stand mixer, change from the paddle attachment to the whisk attachment and beat until fluffy. If using a hand held, continue to beat until fluffy.
- Place bottom cake layer, flat side down, on a rack on top of a tray lined with wax paper or foil to catch the drippings.
- Spread the peanut butter filling evenly on top of the bottom cake layer, leaving a one inch border to allow for additional spreading.
- Place the top layer, flat side up, on top of the filling and gently press until the filling spreads to the edge of the cake. You may need to use a knife to scrape off excess and to insure that the filling is even with the sides of the cake.
- Pour ganache over all, spreading evenly over all sides of the cake. Let stand for a few minutes to set.
- Remove cake to serving platter and store in refrigerator until serving.
- When ready to serve, use a knife dipped in hot water,then wiped with a towel, to make clean cuts.
*Store cake, lightly covered, in refrigerator.
*For this recipe, the yellow cake comes out with a slightly tighter crumb than Mel's original, partially due to the pressing step during filling and partially because cake tends to get a bit denser when it's refrigerated.
*You can also bake this as three 8" layers and have two thinner layers of peanut butter filling.
*Cake recipe from Mel's Kitchen
Ganache from Alton Brown
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