A couple of years ago, while reading A Cup of Jo, one of my favorite blogs—and maybe one of yours, too—I came across a photo of a Reese’s peanut butter cup cake: two layers of devil’s food cake with chunks of Reese’s peanut butter cups mixed in, topped with a chocolate peanut-butter ganache that’s then studded with even more chopped-up Reese’s cups. Be still my heart. (And actually, my heart would probably literally be still if I ate too much of this cake—it is definitely one of the richer and more unhealthy things I’ve ever put in my mouth.)
I baked the cake a couple of times after reading that blog post, which was published back in 2009—how could I resist after seeing the photo? Here it is again, because why not?—but then kind of forgot about it, although it always popped up in the back of my mind when I had to think about Occasion Cakes—you know, cakes you make for holidays, birthdays and the like. I am a big fan of the Occasion Cake, not only because they receive a lot of oohs and aahs when presented—I am a Leo, after all—but because they’re special and kind of fancy; they only make appearances at certain times. (See: this giant coconut cake, which takes two days to make and is curiously heavy, and this classic chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, which is just a treat. Even if you forget to add baking soda, which I once did.)
Anyway, I needed to whip up an Occasion Cake recently and, as usual, I began flipping through my mental recipe file to figure out which one I wanted to make. I was starting to think that a classic yellow cake with vanilla buttercream—basically, these cupcakes in cake form—would do the trick, but then the Reese’s cake popped into my head…and stayed there until I found myself in the checkout line in the grocery store, clutching one too many bags of gold foil-wrapped Reese’s cups and probably being judged by the people in line behind me.
The cake couldn’t be easier to make, mostly because it starts with a box mix. Now, listen: I am a huge proponent of making baked goods from scratch; in fact, I generally hate using box mixes. But trust me: In this case, Betty Crocker really does the trick. After you doctor up the mix with eggs, buttermilk, oil, etc., you throw in a ton of chopped-up Reese’s peanut butter cups and stick the whole thing in two round cake pans in a 350-degree oven.
After they cool, you make the chocolate peanut butter ganache—which is easy as, um, pie: dark chocolate, heavy cream, peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar—and frost the cake. Then you garnish the whole thing with even more of those Reese’s cups, as mentioned above. Then you eat a slice, and you know what? After that, you just feel happy.