Brownie-Peanut-Butter-Cookie-Dough Ridiculous-ness Cake

Ok.  Classes are starting to end.  I'm right on the verge of a nearly one-month break.  For the first time since last May.  Phew.

Oh, and I got a compliment today from a student in a class I didn't think I was really able to connect with earlier this semester.  I think that made my entire semester.  And on top of that, data collection phase 2 for my project is done.  Now to tackle the questionnaires.  And edit that 23 page paper that's only getting longer.

Maybe not right now.

I think it's time to take a quick break.  And what better to do than write about cake?  Back to the story about last weekend's cake.

So, in case you haven't figured this out, KEB is a peanut butter and chocolate fan.  Like for serious.

And rather than make a similar cake to last year (which I combined from several peanut butter and chocolate cakes I found on Pinterest), I happened to find a peanut butter cookie dough and brownie layer cake (also on Pinterest) right before KEB's birthday.  And she promptly repinned it from me.  So much for secrecy.

I decided to go for it anyway.

I think it was a good decision.  Although, apparently my next cake project needs to be a light cake.  NES likes lighter cakes, and recently I've made . . . well, cake with cheesecake and cream cheese frosting and ganache AND brownies with cookie dough and ganache.  Does it get much heavier than that?  (Quite literally -- they both weighed a ton!)

I appreciated the extra piece I ate when I was not full of pizza a little more than my first piece though.  I couldn't finish my first piece, and in case you can't guess, I am not one to leave cake on my plate.

I, again, used almost every scrap of peanut butter in my house making this cake.  Well, plain peanut butter, at least.  Time to make more!

I'm still a little torn on using homemade peanut butter in the cookie dough.  Pros and cons, go:

Pros: I love making homemade peanut butter, and I really only want to keep that on hand from now on.
I can control what goes in, especially salt, sugar (ha) and preservatives, etc.
Homemade peanut butter is super tasty.
It's what I had in the cabinet (a.k.a. no extra trips to the store and regular peanut butter hanging out in my pantry for months after).

Cons: I feel like it made the dough a little chalkier.
The fact that I use unsalted peanuts for my peanut butter threw off the flavor a little.  I tried adding some extra salt, but to not much success.
The cookie dough wasn't very strongly peanut-buttery.
There were little flecks of peanut in the cookie dough -- nothing like if you'd added chunky peanut butter, and if you like peanuts in your cookies, maybe it's a pro!

All that to say, it still tasted good.  It just wasn't quite what I expected.  In combination with everything else, though, it didn't really matter.  It was still good!

I actually did use all the ganache called for -- which surprised me!  It seemed like a lot, and I am used to having recipes make way more ganache than I really want to use.

Then came the peanut butter frosting.  I did use the tiny bit of "regular" (read: plain old, non-natural, non-homemade) peanut butter in the frosting.  That's where the flecks of peanut butter would cause some texture issues.  No clumpy, crunchiness in my frosting, please.

It is one of the lightest, tastiest frostings I've ever had.  Woah.  And light frosting is good on a cake this heavy!

I asked NES to help me decide how to decorate it.  He was playing Minecraft and wouldn't give suggestions.  So I went for it.

Yay for circles!

Did I mention this is one of the more ridiculous recipes I've made?

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownie Layer Cake
from Life, Love and Sugar

Brownie Layers:
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups sugar.
3 tsp. vanilla
6 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Line three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper, spray with cooking spray and flour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the oil, sugar and vanilla.  Add the eggs and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix well.

Pour into the three prepared pans, dividing evenly, and spread flat.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs on it.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then allow to cool completely on a rack.  Meanwhile, prepare the cookie dough.  (Don't put the pans too far away!)

Cookie Dough:
1 1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
3 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
3-4 tbsp. milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cream the butter, brown and white sugars together until light and fluffy.

Add the peanut butter and vanilla.

Add the flour while the mixer runs on low speed.

Add the milk until the cookie dough is the preferred thickness.

Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.  Set aside.

Chocolate Ganache
6 oz. and 6 oz. chocolate chips
1/2 cup and 1/2 cup heavy cream
(the ganache will be made in two batches)

Once the brownies cool, place 6 oz. chocolate chips in a bowl.  Microwave 1/2 cup of heavy cream, watching until it starts to boil.  Pour over the chocolate chips.

Cover with plastic wrap for 5-7 minutes.  Whisk the chocolate and cream until smooth.

Line one of the now empty cake pans with parchment or plastic wrap -- you want it coming up the sides to lift layers out of the pan.

"The process": Place the first brownie layer in the pan.  Add about 3 tbsp. of chocolate ganache on top and spread into a thin layer over the top.  You may want to wait a minute for it to thicken so it doesn't ooze everywhere.

Put half the cookie dough on top of the ganache and press it into an even layer on top of the brownie.

Carefully remove the top two layers from the pan and place onto the cake plate.  Spread about 3 tbsp. ganache on top of the cookie dough layer.

Repeat "the process" with the second layer of brownie.  Carefully place these two layers on top of the first two.

Spread another 3 tbsp. thinly on top of the second layer of cookie dough.  Press the remaining brownie layer on top.

Then, place the remaining chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave the cream until it boils.  Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and cover with plastic wrap for 5-7 minutes.

Whisk until smooth.  Allow the ganache to just begin to thicken before pouring over the cake.

Pour over the top of the cake and refrigerate the cake.

Peanut Butter Frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk
chocolate chips (mini or regular, optional for decorating)

Beat the shortening and butter together until smooth and creamy.

Add the peanut butter and beat until well mixed.

Add the powdered sugar slowly, beating until smooth.

Add the milk.

Remove the cake from the fridge and pipe the icing on top to your heart's content.  Decorate with chocolate chips, if desired.


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