Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Where the Wild Things Are" Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

My really close friend's birthday was on Friday. Now, this boy loves Reese's cups, to the point where one of our friends just gave him a bag of king-sized packs of the candy for his present and he was overjoyed about it. Another thing he loves is the children's book Where the Wild Things Are, and I knew that putting the character Max, wearing his pajamas and jumping about in his "wild rumpus," on a chocolate and peanut butter cake would make him smile.


So first, I should explain some things. I know that in the last - very brief - post, I said that I won the annual Patanegra Tapas Competition for best dessert and best presentation (even though they could only officially give me the prize for best presentation, seeing as I won in two categories...scowl.), and I said that I would have pictures and a decent post on it all as soon as I got all the photos off of other peoples' cameras. Well, we Spaniards move at the pace of sloths, apparently (unless we're confronted with a buffet table of tapas competition entries, and then we move right quick), and no one has actually gotten to sending the pictures around. So I apologize for that, and hopefully will, at some point, have a post for the event.

Also, I was admitted to the hospital on Monday night after going to the ER and had to stay all of Tuesday, so by the time I finally, blessedly got the cupcake order ready for Thursday afternoon when it was scheduled to be picked up, I was frazzled, exhausted, cranky, and hadn't taken any pictures. Which is a shame, because they were gorgeous cupcakes. So no pictures of that, because of my silly immune system, but I do hope to include the recipes for each of the four flavors of cupcakes, as they were delicious and adorable.

Now! Moving right along to what you're really here for: peanut butter and chocolate cake. Would you like to know a secret? I don't like peanut butter. I'm a teenager and I don't like peanut butter. I'm an American teenager and I don't like peanut butter. I get funny looks at the lunch table for this, as well as for hating bacon and for bringing little cans of tomato juice to school and mixing in salt and pepper. I'm a weird eater. The point of all that, however, was that I'm not a fan of peanut butter, and even I like the PB filling in this cake. I used it for one of the cupcakes from the Thursday order, and it blew me away. It's got a nice peanut flavor and isn't too sweet; it's like the best of peanut butter and good frosting met and had a baby and then that baby tucked itself between two layers of rich, chocolate cake, pulled up the blanket of ganache, and then dreamt of deliciousness.

I don't really know how that metaphor got so bad. I apologize.


Regardless of that last little rant, the cake is so good. And the fact that the layers are whipped up in one bowl with no need for a mixer is such a bonus. I topped the cake with the most amazing ganache I've ever tasted. Mine was leftover from some cupcakes and I only had enough to pour over the very top, but I'll include the full recipe so that you can be a bit more generous with it. I have a feeling that this cake would only get better with ganache running seductively down its sides.


As for little Max on top. My friend and I went to see the movie of Where the Wild Things Are when it came out, and by the end we couldn't stop roaring and howling at anyone and everything we saw. He always describes having the book read to him as a little kid and how he and his siblings would growl along convincingly with the line "...they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth." So I knew that Max would have to be in that iconic pose of his, foot raised and claws bared in his wild rumpus. I have to say I'm pretty happy with how he came out. I'd like to get better at modeling figures out of marzipan, but for my first attempt at a character, I think I did pretty well. My friend loved him, so it was definitely worth it.

"I'll eat you up, I love you so."

Your Baking Soundtrack For "Where the Wild Things Are" Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake:
A Irmandade Das Estrelas, Carlos Núñez
This is honestly one of my favorite albums, and it's so perfect for losing yourself in the kitchen. The beautiful classical guitars, the Galician bagpipes, the haunting melodies, the rendition of Rosalía de Castro's Negra Sombra by Luz Casal...everything about the music is gorgeous.


Chocolate Cake
From Baking Bites

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and grease lightly.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
Make a well in the center and pour in the liquid ingredients.
Stir until just combined.
Distribute evenly between the pans.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350F.

Peanut Butter Filling
From Baking Bites

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp milk

Beat together all the ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze
From The Secrets of Baking, by Sherry Yard

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
4 tablespoons clear apricot or citrus jelly (I used a wonderful apricot-pineapple-orange combination one)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Place the chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl.
Warm the apricot jelly in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until melted.
Whisk in cream, milk, and corn syrup.
Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil.
Pour the mixture over the chocolate.
Allow to sit for 1 minutes.
Stir gently until smooth and combined.
Pour over cake while the ganache is still hot.
If you have leftovers, store them in the refrigerator and gently remelt them when ready to use by placing the ganache in the top of a double boiler and stirring just until melted.


  1.'s so cute! I haven't watched the movie, but I remember reading where the wild things are when I was in kindergarten =]

    I don't like peanut butter either =] Unless it's in baked this sounds really yummy! I've only ever had/made one type of ganache and that's just the simple chocolate and cream recipe. I must try this recipe some day....!

  2. I love character cakes. You did more than okay with this cake my dear. It's awesome:-) I'm not a fan of peanut butter either and neither are my kids.