Category Archives: desserts

Chocolate Peanut Layer Cake

march 15, 2018

chocolate peanut layer cake

When spring rolls around, I dream of chocolate and peanut butter. Wait, what? Not even close to seasonal, you might think. Easter brings those egg-shaped Reese’s peanut butter treats, creamy milk chocolate covering a salty sweet peanut butter filling, and I swoon. Yes, they are available year round as little patties with ridges, and at Halloween as pumpkins, but the Easter ones have a very thin coat of chocolate and lots of slightly crunchy peanut butter filling. I’ve eaten more than my share lately, so today’s cake is all about the chocolate, with a little peanut thrown in for pleasure. Yep, this is a chocolate lover’s cake for those who also like peanut butter.

chocolate peanut layer cake

Is this a ” healthy” dessert? Not on your life. My motto regarding dessert is this: better to have a little bit of the real thing than a lot of lower calorie stuff that will leave you less than satisfied. There, I said it. Or wrote it. That’s my philosophy and I’m sticking with those words.

chocolate peanut layer cake

Is this an easy dessert? Relatively speaking, yes. All three components may be made ahead at different times and assembled when you have a bigger chunk of time. All purpose wheat flour would work just as well as the gluten free favorite in my pantry. The cake is a great keeper in the fridge for up to one week—simply let the servings sit at room temperature until they are soft and creamy. I’m certain freezing is also an option, but my tasters and I could not wait for that experiment. To keep the outside pretty, your freezer needs to be large enough to accommodate the cake dome, but if you make this tasty cake and decide on freezing leftover  pieces, wrap in plastic and rejoice in your ability to delay gratification. You have more discipline than the author of this post.

chocolate peanut layer cake

Chocolate Peanut Layer Cake

recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company

makes one three layer eight inch cake


chocolate layer cake

1 ¾ cup 1-for-1 gluten free flour (my current favorite is Bob’s Red Mill) – all purpose wheat flour works just as well
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I use Hershey’s) – plus extra for coating cake pans
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, melted gently and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
1 cup boiling water

cake directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 3 eight inch cake pans with cooking spray, line with parchment, spray again and coat interior lightly with cocoa powder.
  3. In large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
  4. In another mixing bowl whisk together butter, eggs, vanilla and milk; mixture will appear curdled.
  5. Whisk together dry and wet ingredients, then whisk in boiling water.
  6. Batter will be very thin; to fill pans evenly, use a large ladle; bake until tops spring back easily and cake begins to pull away from the sides, about 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool in pans about 10 minutes, then flip out onto waxed paper; you will be frosting the bottoms of each layer, as tops will be sticky.

peanut butter mousse

4 ounces (half a brick) of full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter ( I like Jif or Skippy natural)
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 or more cups powdered sugar
whole milk, about 2 tablespoons

mousse directions

  1. In large mixing bowl, use electric mixer to cream together cream cheese, salt, vanilla and peanut butter; mixture will appear dry and shaggy.
  2. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and blend well, then add 1 tablespoon milk.
  3. Add another cup powdered sugar, then ½ tablespoon milk; add more milk a few drops at a time if needed until mousse is creamy, but it must be firm enough to set between the cake layers.

sour cream chocolate frosting

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I like Hershey’s)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup full fat sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped, for assembly

frosting directions

  1. Melt butter and unsweetened chocolate over low heat in small saucepan, stirring frequently.
  2. Whisk in cocoa and add mixture to large mixing bowl.
  3. With electric mixer on low, add one cup powdered sugar, followed by vanilla and ⅓ cup sour cream.
  4. Add another cup sugar, then another ⅓ cup sour cream, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
  5. Add remainder of sugar, then rest of sour cream and mix well.

cake assembly

  1. Place one cake layer (bottom side up) on flat surface of cake server, cover with half the peanut butter mousse, then add the second cake layer, cover with remaining mousse and top with third cake layer.
  2.  With thin spatula (an offset spatula is best) apply frosting starting with the top, then the sides, and finally use spatula to create decorate spikes on the top layer.
  3. Using your hands, attach the chopped peanuts to the cake sides, a little at a time, and when peanuts fall onto the work surface,  you may scoop them up for the next application.
  4. Cake may be enjoyed immediately, or stored in the refrigerator up to one week; allow cake to sit at room temperature at least ½ hour to soften before serving.


Peppermint Fudge Ice Cream

january 6, 2018

peppermint fudge ice cream

What to do with all that Christmas peppermint candy? Ice cream, that’s what, even though frozen treats may not be at the top of your wish list with this chilly start to the new year. To that, I say eat more ice cream and allow your body’s internal engine to crank up the heat for digestion of this all- season creamy dessert. Continue reading

Holiday Chocolate Bark

december 8, 2017

holiday chocolate bark

Given the choice : homemade treat made with love, or store bought. Tough choice, huh? Bet you got it right! The thrill of knowing someone has taken the time, and effort, to craft an edible gift just for you? Well, priceless. That’s what this recipe is all about.

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Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes and Apples

october 18, 2017

brown sugar sweet potatoes and apples

It’s not the easiest thing to plan fall menus when the humidity and temperature are still elevated past September. The calendar, however, clearly shows autumn is in full swing and I am getting mentally prepared. Local summer produce has an inner time clock that tells production to halt making way for fall delights like squashes, sweet potatoes and hearty greens. There is change in the air. A stroll around my  local farm stand with beautiful rusty-dusty sweet potatoes and fragrant multi-hued apples tumbling from bins and boxes can bring back my inspiration every time this season of bounty rolls around. Continue reading

Zucchini Walnut Spice Cake

september 15, 2017

zucchini walnut spice cake

You know who you are. You’re that coworker, that neighbor, that friend who pokes around in your late summer garden and notices that the zucchini are big like kiddie baseball bats, and also numerous. What to do? You give them away. Your recipients scratch their heads and murmur thanks, wondering what will become of this summer squash on steroids and how they can possibly transform it into something edible. Knock on my door and I’ll be your best buddy! And if I’m feeling particularly magnanimous I’ll give you a slice of this cake.

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Green Tea Chia Parfaits

september 1, 2017

green tea chia parfaits


Brain food is anything that delivers mental clarity, won’t cause you to crash after eating and is a better overall choice. Notice I avoid categorizing brain food as healthy or “good for you”. Nothing preachy here. Guilt associated with eating is not my thing. All things in moderation. For powering up the old Thinker, picture lentils, beans, grilled fish and anything under the banner of Mediterranean cuisine. For breakfast, I’m loving chia seed pudding made with coconut milk and the anti-oxidant power of green tea. Add local stone fruits and  you have an entire meal of brain-boosting tastiness.

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Ginger Peach Sherbet

july 21, 2017

ginger peach sherbet

When I was a little kid, barely able to see over the ice cream counter, my dad gave me a few coins on a Saturday morning and I would leisurely walk to the neighborhood High’s Ice Cream to buy a sherbet cone. I loved the tanginess of orange and lime, and the pretty pastels of rainbow sherbet.What really shows my age is that back then you could buy a frozen treat with coins and that my parents let me walk to a store half a mile away! I’m taking a trip down memory lane by sharing this recipe for summer peach sherbet, with the added flavor of ginger for my grown up tastes. Continue reading

Coffee Chipotle Ice Cream

june 9, 2017

coffee chipotle ice cream

All my ice cream recipes are easy. No egg, usually. Just heating dairy with sugar and chilling the mixture overnight before adding to the electric ice cream machine. Oh, and the flavors. That’s my favorite part of creating chilled dessert recipes. There’s red wine cherry, avocado lime cilantro and…

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Mini Strawberry Cupcakes

april 28, 2017

mini strawberry cupcakes


How do you decide which recipes to publish, Michele? Easy. Pick what’s in season and what looks good at the markets. Let me tell you my little secret, however – quite often the recipe is something I want to eat. Eat and share, of course. Today’s recipe for miniature strawberry cupcakes fits the bill on all three counts : local berries are in season, they are looking beautiful at the markets (and the aroma is intoxicating) and I really, really, really want to eat these. Not sure if the sharing aspect will get a workout this go round.

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Salted Chocolate Pecan Tart

january 28, 2017

salted chocolate pecan tart


Judging by the proliferation of chocolate and salt pairings on menus for both sweet and savory  (salted mocha coffee drinks, chocolate cocktails rimmed with salt, beef dishes braised with chocolate and, of course, chocolate desserts sprinkled with flecks of sea salt), I’d say it’s now safe to admit you like a little salty with your sweet.

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