Thursday, 8 January 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Tower Cake

I just may have overdone it a little bit...possibly.

I can't help myself.  I love creating special birthday cakes.  Besides, when a loved one's birthday is during or just after the holiday season, some extra extra special effort is required.  I am fortunate that my birthday is in May, which is a wonderful time of year to celebrate, but my dad's is on December 31, and my sweetheart's is on January 6.  Move over, Christmas.  Thanks, it was lovely, but your 15 minutes are up.  Hello cake season!!  

A substantial chocolate layer cake with rich peanut butter icing and crushed pretzel and chopped chocolate between the layers - this is absolutely decadent.

This cake was inspired by Joy the Baker's latest cookbook Homemade Decadence.  I used Joy's recipe as the base, and then modified it by changing up the ingredients slightly and choosing 3 6 inch cake pans instead of 9 inch ones.

I called this a tower cake because it is so tall it is downright silly and impractical.   But it is so much fun to light a candle, bring into a room and see the look of delight on the birthday face!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Tower Cake
slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

Chocolate Cake
3 cups cake and pastry flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
2 cups buttermilk

Peanut Butter Icing
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla
3-4 cups icing sugar
4 tbsp half and half cream

crushed pretzels, about 1 cup
1 tbsp roasted, salted peanuts
2 oz dark chocolate, chopped
Pretzel twists

To make the cake:

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. and cocoa in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy.  Using a hand mixer, add in eggs, one at a time, beating in between.  Add vanilla.
Add half of flour mixture and half of the buttermilk, mixing well. Add in remainder of flour and the rest of the buttermilk, Mix until just combined, and finish with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Grease 3 deep 6 inch round cake pans.  Divide between pans until each pan is about 2/3 full (there will be some batter left-over, perfect for 3-4 cupcakes).  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean.  The middles will take a bit longer to bake, as each cake layer is quite thick.

Let cool in pan on wire rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.

To make the icing:
Combine butter, peanut butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl with a hand mixer or stand mixer.  Add in 1 cup of icing sugar and 2 tbsp of cream, continuing to mix.  Add in second cup of sugar and 1 tbsp of cream, and final cup of sugar and final tbsp of cream.  Add in more cream or sugar as needed to obtain the right consistency.

To assemble and decorate the cake:
Place bottom layer of cake (once fully cooled) on a cake plate or stand.  Frost generously.
Sprinkle crushed pretzels and chopped chocolate as desired.  Place middle cake layer on top, and frost generously.  Repeat with pretzels and chocolate.  Place top cake layer on top, and frost generously.
Start to frost the sides of the cake, careful not to mix crumbs into frosting.
Start lining the sides of the cake with whole pretzel twists at the bottom and work your way around, pressing gently into icing to stick.  You may need to adjust the pretzels a teeny bit, or turn the last one in the row on its side to fit.  Repeat two more rows, or the whole cake, if desired,
Sprinkle top with peanuts and chopped chocolate.  Ta-da!

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