My younger son turned 20 on Friday – where does the time go!! I can’t believe both my boys are in their 20’s – I don’t even have teenagers anymore.
Well, he loves peanut butter. We, at least once a week, are buying a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups (the mini ones). His eyes light up if we buy him his own bag! So for his birthday, even though he hates cake, I decided to make him a peanut butter explosion cake which I lovingly refer to as “Death by Peanut Butter”.
To start off, I made Martha Stewart’s chocolate cake recipe (here) only I used 2 – 6″ X 3″ pans. I made the recipe twice, so I could have 3 layers for this cake.
**I used one layer to make my husband’s birthday cake a couple of days ago**
I actually made the cakes about 3 weeks ago and wrapped them really well and froze them, so they were ready to go when I was ready to make the cakes. This is probably the best tip I can give anyone, bake your cake layers in advance (up to 2 months), wrapped really well, I do 3 layers of plastic wrap, and then freeze. I take them out the night before I need them and thaw in the fridge over night.
Then I whipped up my peanut butter ball filling mixture (I made a full batch, but really only needed about half) and placed this in the fridge over night to set up. I also crumbled it up once it was chilled, and pressed it into a 6″ pan (twice) and wrapped with plastic wrap and chilled in the fridge.
Now I was ready to start. First off, trim your cake layers, removing any bump from the top. I actually use the “upside down” method to frost my cakes, which I find goes so much quicker. It helps to have Acrylic circles that are 1/2″ wider than your actual cakes, so you get a 1/4″ frosting on all sides. (Luckily I have an amazing husband with access to a CNC machine and he had my acrylic circles cut for me for free – otherwise you can find them online. They really do make this part so much easier.) **I also have a large acrylic square to make transferring the cake to the fridge to chill easy**
Start by putting down some parchment paper (a little dab of buttercream underneath to secure it to the acrylic square) and then in the centre, pile on buttercream, spreading it out into an even layer (this is going to become the top of your cake at the end) and then place one cake layer flat side down. Then continue building. Buttercream, layer of peanut butter ball filling, buttercream, cake, buttercream, peanut butter ball filling, buttercream, cake.
Once all of this is assembled, if your buttercream is quite soft, you can place this in the fridge for a few minutes, then place the acrylic circle on top, because it’s clear, you can make sure your cake is centred perfectly, then make sure it’s level, and start applying the buttercream to the outside of the cake (pile it on thick!), then using a straight edged scraper, pressed up against the circle, start scraping off the excess buttercream.
Once you have it to where you want it, transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes, to an hour. Remove from the fridge and check to ensure all sides are smooth, if not you can touch up with a bit of buttercream, then using a small flexible pallet knife (I got this in the painting section at the craft store) run this under hot water for a few sections to get it warm, then carefully run the pallet knife between the acrylic circle and the buttercream, to remove the acrylic circle. **don’t try and just lift the circle off, as you will break the buttercream off in chunks if you do – yes I speak from experience**.
Once you have removed the acrylic circle, you can carefully place your cake board on the cake, making sure it’s centred, then carefully flip the cake over, placing one had on the cake board and one hand on the square acrylic board. Remove the acrylic square, leaving the parchment paper on top of the cake. Place back in the fridge for 15 minutes, then carefully peel back the parchment paper. **You may need to smooth out the top slightly as there may be air pockets.
Now it’s time to decorate! I had every kind of Reese’s peanut butter product I could find. Cups, mini cups, pieces, sticks, eggs. We love this stuff! I also melted some peanut butter in the microwave, just until it was pourable. Then using a small spoon, I carefully spooned this onto the edges of the cake at the top, pushing it with the spoon over the edge to get the nice drips. Once I had covered the cake with the peanut butter drizzle I placed this back in the fridge to set up before putting everything else on.
Once the peanut butter drizzle was set up, I started decorating. Here’s where you can just go crazy. I pushed Reese’s pieces into the sides of the cake everywhere, then put some of the Reese’s sticks around the sides and on top, then some regular sized cups and mini cups, then I cut a Reese’s Easter Egg in half and placed that on top, then sprinkled more pieces on top. Voila, done!
This masterpiece was almost 8″ tall when it was finished. So that’s a 6″ wide cake, 8″ tall and probably weighed in at 5 lbs. But it’s incredibly impressive and tastes amazing! It impressed my kiddo – though he’s been eating the leftover peanut butter balls that I have in the fridge first.
By the way – that extra cake layer that I had, I used it for my husband’s birthday cake, which was 2 days before my son’s birthday. I ended up making him a Chocolate Cake Cheesecake – which was equally as amazing and impressive.
For anyone wondering what the insides of these cakes look like, here they are!