Damaris Phillips Chocolate Cake delivers the best chocolate-peanut butter punch! The chocolate cake is infused with robust espresso, giving it an even deeper darker chocolate flavor. The richly moist chocolate cake is countered by a perfectly creamy peanut butter frosting that is dreamy, silky, and not overly sweet. Make the cake dressed to the nines with a chocolate cage!
I wish I had someone in my life who liked the chocolate and peanut butter combination. Or even desserts. I’ve lived my life in a dessert-less household around dessert-less people. It’s baffling, I know.
My favorite pairing for chocolate cake is peanut butter. Deep and pronounced, the chocolate gets a robust flavor from a strong dose of espresso powder bloomed in warm water.
I’m so sad Damaris’ show Southern at Heart is gone for good. I really enjoyed her Kentucky inspired recipes and her smiley sass. Her Kentucky hot brown and her buffalo chicken meatloaf are delicious savory dishes that I’ve made countless times.
Her show highlighted regional Appalachia cooking so rich in preserved culinary history that is distinct from the blanket term of “Southern Food.” I dislike those blanketing terms. Geographical variations determine the ecology and industry of an area–which ultimately determines the way food develops into a regional cuisine. If spotlighting a rich culinary history isn’t part of modern day cuisine then I am very sad for the future of food media…Sorry for the digression back to this cake! She made this cake for her husband Darrick for his birthday.
What makes Damaris Phillips Chocolate Cake perfect is it’s balanced flavors and textures. I have made countless chocolate-peanut butter recipes, but this cake, literally, takes the cake. The heavy use of espresso strengthens the chocolate and results in a robust dark chocolate flavor and by using water, the acidity from the cocoa powder is neutralized. Oil gives Damaris Phillips Chocolate Cake moisture. Better yet, by using oil, the cake batter comes together without the use of an electric mixer!
I was worried that the consistency of the frosting Damaris Phillips Chocolate Cake. With only 4 cups of powdered sugar I was afraid it’d be too soupy. Luckily the frosting set up beautifully in the refrigerator. The Creamy Peanut Butter frosting is not too sweet but is oh-so satisfying, checking off my hankering for some salt. This frosting is perfect for those anti-frosting people (sadly those people exist in the world). Honey roasted peanuts layered between each layer drive home (but don’t overwhelm) the salty components of Damaris Phillips Chocolate Cake.
Unsure of how to decorate I finally looked back on my pinterest boards. It’s weird I do some much pinning, but I seldom look back on my boards. I came upon a pin I had saved a long time ago. This tutorial from Rosie’s Dessert Spot gives a good demonstration to make chocolate cages.
You maybe wondering why I don’t have photos of the cake sliced. Well…Despite the chocolate cage being pretty on the uncut cake, once slices, the chocolate cage was not so easy to photograph on the sliced cake. If you are cutting into the cake to serve, remove the chocolate cage first, don’t try to slice into it…I learned my lesson to say the least.
I think Damaris would approve of my fancy chocolate cage. It’s easy but looks like I put in WAY more work than I actually did! That’s the best way to decorate a cake, with easy but fancy decorations!
- For the Espresso Chocolate Cake:
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- ¾ cup hot water
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon fine salt
- ¾ cup buttermilk, room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- For the Perfectly Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting:
- 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- For assembling the Cake:
- 1 ¼ cup honey roasted peanut nuts
- Chocolate cage (follow link in post for tutorial)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 6-inch cake pans with baking spray, set aside.
- Stir the espresso powder into the hot water and let the espresso bloom. Let the espresso cool down so it’s warm but not hot to the touch.
- Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the warm (not hot) espresso, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and eggs.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the center. Whisk until mostly lump free and smooth. Divide between the cake pans and bake, rotating halfway, for 23 to 27 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans before inverting them onto a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hour, or even overnight, to let the cake moisten further. This rest bit also ensures that the cake won’t crumble.
- Cream the cream cheese and butter for 2 minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. After two minutes, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the peanut butter, mixing until combined.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time. Add the vanilla, beating until combine. Scrape the bowl as needed. Transfer into airtight containers and let the frosting firm up in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours.
- If the cake layers have domes, use a serrate knife to level off the domes. Dollop a bit of frosting onto a cake board and then add the first layer. Spread some of the frosting onto the layer, sprinkle some of the peanut on top and press the peanuts into the frosting. Repeat this step with the next layer. Top with the final third layer. Use an off set spatula to press the dirty crumb coating of frosting and crumbs into the cake. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes. Apply a thicker coating of frosting and freeze for a final 15 minutes.
- Follow the tutorial for the chocolate cage. When the chocolate cage is matte and malleable press the cage around the perimeter of the cake and refrigerate. Remove the parchment paper. Top the cake with the remaining peanuts.
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