Chef Penny's Peanut Butter and Jelly Chocolate Cake
The ICE chef and Sugar Couture cake designer demonstrates her pro approach to appearance, texture and flavor.
Epicurious' 4 Levels series features an amateur and home cook preparing a crowd favorite dish alongside a professional chef from the Institute of Culinary Education. In the latest episode, Chef Penny Stankiewicz elevates a three-tiered chocolate cake with a complex Swiss meringue buttercream and professional cake decorating.
"The perfect combination of flavors for me is chocolate and peanut butter, and then I add a little bit of strawberry and strawberry jam to make it more like a peanut butter and jelly cake," Chef Penny explains.
The Pastry & Baking Arts and Art of Cake Decorating chef-instructor incorporates homemade honey roasted peanuts, fresh and macerated strawberries, and brown butter instead of oil for what the food scientist, Rosemary, calls "unmistakably made by a level three chef ... with its many carefully balanced components and extravagant design."
Watch the video for Chef Penny's process and get the complete recipe below.
Chocolate Cake with Peanut Crunch and Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yields one 8-inch cake
- 5 ounces all-purpose flour
- 2.33 ounces dutch cocoa powder
- 10 ounces white sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2/3 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 5 fluid ounces whole milk
- 2 fluid ounces brown butter (liquid but cooled)
- 5 fluid ounces warm water
- Mix batter using the one-step method.
- Combine all dry and whisk together in the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer.
- Combine liquid and eggs.
- Add to the dry ingredients in the mixer on low speed in two additions. Mix for an additional 2 minutes.
- Spray three 8x2-inch baking pans with pan release. Line with parchment rounds. Place batter into pans about 1-inch thick. Bake in a 350 F preheated oven for about 22-28 minutes, or until set in the center. Allow cakes to cool completely prior to icing.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 12 ounces clean egg whites
- 24 ounces white sugar
- 2 pounds unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Whisk whites and sugar in the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer until they are very hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved.
- Place onto the mixer and whisk until cooled.
- Add softened butter piece by piece until emulsified.
- Add salt, peanut butter and vanilla. Use immediately.
Honey-Roasted Peanut Caramel
- 16 ounces roasted unsalted peanuts
- 4 fluid ounces honey
- 4 ounces white sugar, plus 1 pound for caramel
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Melt honey, sugar and salt in small sauce pan. Add nuts.
- Turn out onto parchment-lined baking sheet and roast at 350 F until sugar is set, about 10-17 minutes.
- Allow to cool.
- Make dry caramel with 1 pound sugar.
- Add some peanuts to caramel. Turn out onto Silpat-lined baking sheet to set.
- Break into pieces for top of cake.
- Set aside about 1 cup of nuts for the chocolate crunch layer.
- Grind the rest in a food processor to smaller pieces for exterior decor.
- 1 quart strawberries
- 4 ounces white sugar
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- Slice strawberries thinly and add sugar and lemon zest and juice to macerate about 1 hour before using to fill the cake. Reserve the remaining syrup to finish the cake.
- 1 pound strawberries
- 8 ounces white sugar
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- 1 vanilla bean
- Cook together in medium sauce pan until thick and set.
Peanut Crunch Layer
- 100 grams ground honey roasted peanuts
- 120 grams peanut butter
- 100 grams milk chocolate
- 2 grams salt
- 1 gram mycryo
- Melt chocolate to 105 F.
- Add mycryo.
- Add peanut butter, nuts and salt. Mix to combine.
- Roll thinly between two sheets of parchment.
- Chill in freezer.
- Use 8-inch cake board as a template to cut around.
- Keep chilled until ready to use.
- Place one cake round on cardboard. Soak using the reserved strawberry liquid.
- Place some buttercream in a piping bag. Dam the outside with a 1/2-inch strip of buttercream. Place the macerated strawberries on top, and then top with the strawberry jam.
- Add the next layer of cake and more strawberry syrup. Add the peanut crunch chocolate layer and a layer of buttercream.
- Top with the third layer of cake. Ice the entire cake with a thin coat of buttercream. Chill until firm.
- Add a second coating of buttercream, as your final coat.
- Place crushed peanuts on the sides of the cake. Pipe decorative swirls on top, and use the peanut caramel shards for decor on top.