A moist peanut butter chocolate swirl cake topped with a luscious peanut butter buttercream, baked snack cake style. The nuttiness of the peanut flavor is amplified in the most delicious way with browned butter.
Meet my new favorite flavor combination: peanut butter and brown butter. I don’t brown my butter often, finding it an annoying and unnecessary step in many cases, but I do it for these 3 yolk mixed chocolate chip cookies, I love it there. I don’t think it makes a huge difference in chocolate desserts (cocoa typically dominates) but is more noticeable in the right flavor combinations. I was making a monster cookie a few weeks back and browned my butter before I used it. And then I couldn’t stop eating the dough!!
It turns out that in the way that brown butter is “nutty” it not only complements but really brings out the taste of peanut butter in the most delicious way possible. I am now on a mission to create all things pb/bb! First up, this buttercream and cake!
Peanut Butter Snacking Cake
I don’t know why they call them snacking cakes but I am super into the idea of snacks being cake with a one inch high buttercream… you know as opposed to a small bowl of tasteless crackers. I bet you’d agree.
An unsophisticated pallet might not notice the browned butter taste as much in the cake, but you really can’t miss it the buttercream. Like, lick the bowl/paddle attachment/spatulas clean kind of delicious-can’t-miss-it.
A One Bowl Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
A few years back, I had developed a basic pb cake recipe which I planned to add to a little baking book I’m writing for my daughter(s). But I like to make things a bit more interesting here, hence the browned butter and chocolate.
So here’s the deal with this cake: it’s fussy in only asking you to brown the butter. Other than that, it is one bowl, you’ll use a whisk to mix it (no fancy machinery) and it’s got no fancy ingredients. Pantry-style. I hope you have eggs and flour! You’ll pour it into a square pan and have a two-toned, soft and yummy cake.
A note about browned butter buttercream
The buttercream: you will need to let the browned butter for this one harden so you can do this first and set it in the fridge while everything else comes together. I dare you to not lick this off your finger and then dive in with a spoon. It’s so good!
Notes on Making Peanut Butter Cake with PB Browned Butter Buttercream
- There are two steps of browning butter. Potentially you could brown a full cup of butter and divide it in two; setting one in the fridge to harden for the buttercream, and another to use right away for the cake. But when you do divide it make sure that each half gets half of those tiny brown bits at the bottom – they are the best part!
- If you’ve never browned butter before, here’s a visual guide from Bon Appetit that is very useful!
- Peanut butter: I prefer grocery-store commercial brands like JIF for this over natural or homemade peanut butters.
- This makes a very decent amount of buttercream, I was going for a nearly 1:1 ratio of cake to buttercream here. If you feel it’s too much and want a slimmer layer, halve it.
- Potentially you could skip the cocoa/milk and swirling part. I like it here because it breaks up the peanut butter between the cake and buttercream (both in taste and looks!)
Recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Brown Butter Buttercream
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Brown Butter Buttercream
- Brown Butter Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Cake
- ½ cup butter (to be browned)
- ⅛ cup canola oil
- ⅓ cup peanut butter
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon, heaped, baking soda
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup cake flour
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon cocoa plus ½ tablespoon milk
- Peanut Butter Brown Butter Buttercream
- ½ cup butter, for browning
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ⅓ cup peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 ¼ cup organic powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Step 1 To make the cake:
- Step 2 Preheat oven to 350 F and grease and line an 8×8 square inch pan with parchment paper.
- Step 3 Over medium heat in a saucepan, melt the butter. Continue to cook while the butter sputters, bubbles and foams. Once it goes silent and turns brown, immediately remove from heat and pour into a bowl, scraping up the tiny brown bits from the pan.
- Step 4 Into the bowl add the peanut butter, vanilla, sugar and oil and whisk together. This should cool the batter down to be warm to touch.
- Step 5 Whisk in the eggs until the batter is smooth.
- Step 6 Gently stir in the flour, soda, powder and salt.
- Step 7 Add the buttermilk and stir until smooth.
- Step 8 Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to push it into the edges.
- Step 9 To the other half of the batter add the cocoa and milk, and stir to fully combine. Then pour the now chocolate batter over the peanut butter, and use the offset spatula or a butterknife to swirl the two batters.
- Step 10 Bake for 20-30 minutes, until a cake tester turns out clean.
- Step 11
- Step 12 To make the buttercream:
- Step 13 Brown 1/2 cup butter: Over medium heat in a saucepan, melt the butter. Continue to cook while the butter sputters, bubbles and foams. Once it goes silent and turns brown, immediately remove from heat and pour into a heatproof bowl, scraping up the tiny brown bits from the pan. Let it cool at room temperature and then set it in the fridge for a couple of hours, stirring now and then until it has solidified and is soft and creamy (like the texture of coconut oil). You can speed this up by doing it in the freezer but you’ll need to keep a closer eye on it.
- Step 14 In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat the brown butter and softened butter until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter, vanilla and salt and beat to combine.
- Step 15 Add the powdered sugar and beat. The mixture is going to look thick and not-spreadable, don’t worry, we are about to fix it.
- Step 16 Add the heavy cream and beat until the buttercream is light and fluffy, as pictured. If it’s still not smooth, add another TB of heavy cream.
- Step 17 Once the cake is cool, spread the buttercream over the cake.