We’re back from Las Vegas, happy to be home but sad that vacation is over. As I write this my husband is on his way to pick up our daughter from her grandparents’ house. I’m excited to see her – this is the longest we’ve ever left her (five whole nights!) It will be good to get back into our routine and have a few weeks of summer relaxation before she heads back to school.
I love Las Vegas. Before Jordan was born we would go every year, sometimes more than once. We’d stay at one of the big casinos and dance and gamble and drink and stay out late. Since Jordan was born, we’ve only been once, and she was with us, so it wasn’t exactly the same sort of experience. And neither was this one. Maybe we’re just getting old or parenthood has caught up with us, but staying up all night and waking with a hangover is not how I like vacationing anymore. We chose Vegas for one reason: in summer it’s super cheap. We didn’t stay on the strip; we stayed at the JW Marriott just a few minutes away. And it was wonderful. If you ever go to Las Vegas and want to experience the glitz from afar, stay there. If you go in summer, you can stay for an amazing price. We did go into “town” one day and shopped at the Venetian and at Caesar’s (where I felt claustrophobic from all the people). We saw the Blue Man Group which was a great show. I know they are touring right now; if you have the chance you should go see them. It was very funny and had good music, and there was audience participation. I had no idea what to expect going in and I was very pleased with it.
By now you’re thinking…um, what does this have to do with these cake pictures? The short answer: nothing. But since I had your rapt attention at “Chocolate” and “Peanut Butter” I thought I’d go on and on about my trip. (Insert witch cackle here.)
So back to the matter at hand…Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Filling. This was the cake we served at my husbands’ birthday party. Two moist, super-delicious chocolate cake layers (using my favorite chocolate cake recipe) filled with a peanut butter cream cheese filling and chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Oh yes, I chopped them up and put them right in the center.
This cake is a meal. Serve with a side of milk and vanilla ice cream and you can be done until tomorrow, I promise. I topped it with vanilla buttercream because I knew the inside would be plenty of heavy and sweet. It really was the perfect combination. (Serving note: the cake was room temperature when we served it at the party and it tasted way better that way than when I ate more the next day from the fridge.)
So, in case you’re interested, here’s what I did on the top:
*The birth announcement (top left) is made from a white Air-Head candy, written on with food writers.
*I used plastic football and baseball key chains on top of a little blue frosting to represent my husband’s youth sports days (baseball, football, and swimming).
*The RHHS and CND graduation hats and diplomas were made with a mold found at Party City and done with melted chocolate.
*The Matterhorn, SD baseball cap (back row), and cactus were made out of cake ball material and covered in chocolate. (The Matterhorn depicts his European trip after high school, the San Diego hat for the time he lived there and loved the Padres, and the cactus is for when we lived in Arizona.)
*The Golden Gate Bridge is a magnet (representing his time in San Francisco), the wedding cake is a candle, the baby carriage and Eiffel Tower are cake toppers (we spent our 2nd anniversary in Paris) and the moving truck is a toy I found at Party City and represents our drive back to where we live now, outside Sacramento.
I loved putting this cake together. I was very happy with the outcome and most people at the party could understand the story behind it. Eating the edible toppers was a bonus too!
So go make this cake. You need to make it. I’m serious. If you love peanut butter and chocolate as much as I do your life is not complete without it!
30 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped (more or less depending on the size of your cake)
Peanut Butter Filling (recipe below)
Bake and cool cakes. (If you are using one 9×13 cake, cut it in half, or tort, it lengthwise.) Fill with the peanut butter filling and chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Frost with the vanilla buttercream. (I like to do a “crumb coat” which is a very light coating of the buttercream that you let dry before doing a final coat.) Serve room temperature.
*My cake had two 9×13 layers (three times the cake recipe), one recipe of peanut butter filling, and four times the recipe for the buttercream. For one 9×13 cake or two 9″ rounds, I would use half the filling recipe and twice the buttercream.*
Peanut Butter Filling
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter (I use Skippy Naturals)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat the butter, peanut butter, and cream cheese with a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar (about a cup at a time) and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk. Mix until combined, adding more milk if needed for desired consistency.
Yield: will frost the top and sides of one 9×13 cake