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This super moist dark chocolate peanut butter cake marries the flavors of rich dark chocolate and sweet creamy peanut butter—a match made in heaven if ever there was one. Fill and coat the cake with peanut butter frosting, then cover the whole dessert with semi-sweet chocolate ganache, pipe more peanut butter frosting on top… and get ready to swoon, because this is love at first bite.

slice of dark chocolate peanut butter cake on white plate set on red checkered napkin.

Meet our newest most eligible bachelor: the dark chocolate peanut butter cake. This cake is rich. Like, ultra-rich. I think the term “filthy rich” might even apply here.

Here’s Why You’ll Swoon Over This Cake

  • Cake crumb is fudge-like and moist, yet a little light and spongey.
  • Enjoy extra texture from the chocolate chips. (I insist you don’t leave these out! Taste testers said the chocolate chips are a welcome contrast to the smooth frosting and cake… and I agree.)
  • Peanut butter frosting packs BIG flavor.
  • It’s sweet, but not overly so; the lightly sweetened peanut butter frosting and dark chocolate ganache is a nice break from cloyingly sweet buttercream.
  • Very rich! If you’re going to indulge, put this layer cake on the menu.

3 Parts to Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Let’s break down each component of this unapologetically indulgent cake:

  1. Dark Chocolate Cake: We’re starting with the cake batter from this 5-star dark chocolate mousse cake, a reader favorite. The cake batter is essentially the same as this chocolate cake, but we’re using the sour cream variation because it produces a sturdier cake—certainly beneficial for tall and towering layers.
  2. Peanut Butter Frosting: Slather on a layer of creamy peanut butter frosting between each cake layer, and use it to apply a crumb coat to the exterior of the cake. It’s a scaled-up version of my original peanut butter frosting recipe.
  3. Chocolate Ganache: Top the whole cake with 2-ingredient semi-sweet chocolate ganache. I originally frosted this cake with a chocolate buttercream, but all of my taste testers said it was simply too rich and too sweet. “Hard to finish a slice,” most said. With chocolate ganache, one taster distinctly said, “I cannot stop eating this.”

My team and I made at least 6 of these cakes during the testing phase and we had some VERY happy neighbors and friends.

A Cake With Serious Chocolate Flavor

You need a handful of basic baking ingredients for the cake batter. The acidity in both sour cream and buttermilk is a must to provide proper leavening. (If desired, see baking powder vs baking soda for more information.) A touch of espresso powder and hot coffee further enhances the chocolate flavor. The cake will not taste like coffee—rather, the two add depth to the cake’s dark chocolate flavor. Feel free to skip the espresso powder and replace hot coffee with hot water.

  • Why hot liquid? The hot liquid encourages the cocoa powder to bloom and dissolve.

Chocolate chips take the chocolate flavor to the next level, and, as I mentioned above, they also supply phenomenal texture. Toss them in a little flour before folding into the batter.

flour, baking powder, baking soda, vegetable oil, sour cream, eggs, and other ingredients.
chocolate chocolate chip cake batter in bowl and in cake pans.

Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting

I played around with the ingredients in my usual creamy peanut butter frosting recipe, and made some adjustments in order to yield just the right amount for this cake. You need 5 ingredients:

  1. Butter
  2. Peanut Butter: Use the conventional kind, like Jif or Skippy, rather than natural.
  3. Confectioners’ Sugar: I know you’ll appreciate that there’s less than 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, a far cry from the usual 6 or 7 cups required for buttercream on a tall layer cake.
  4. Heavy Cream: You also need this for the chocolate ganache.
  5. Vanilla Extract

You’ll end up with 3.5–4 cups (about 850g), which is enough frosting for filling, crumb-coating, and some basic piping on the exterior. This frosting has incredible peanut butter flavor because it’s packed with nearly 2 cups of it! There’s no other way to make it. 😉

peanut butter frosting in glass bowl with red spatula.
spreading peanut butter frosting on and around chocolate layer cake.

2 Ingredient Chocolate Ganache

I won’t go into a lot of detail about how to make the ganache because I have a complete chocolate ganache tutorial for you. You need just 2 ingredients: chopped semi-sweet baking chocolate (about 56–60% cacao) and warm heavy cream.

#1 Success Tip: Wait 20–30 minutes for the ganache to thicken before pouring or spooning onto the cake, which is convenient because you also have to wait for the crumb-coated cake to chill.

As you can watch in the video tutorial below, a chilled cake helps set or solidify the ganache as you’re applying it, which helps prevent major drips/big messes.

chocolate ganache in bowl and spreading on exterior of cake.

How to Assemble & Decorate This Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I’m NOT a professional cake decorator and with all of my layer cakes, I prefer simplicity. Let me share how I stack and decorate this beauty:

Assemble: Place the bottom cooled cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Using a large icing spatula or small offset spatula, evenly cover the top with about 1 cup of peanut butter frosting. Top with 2nd cake layer and another 1 cup of frosting. Top with the third cake and then spread a thin layer of the peanut butter frosting on top and around the sides as a crumb coat. Run a bench scraper around the cake to smooth it out. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours to set the crumb coat.

Decorate: Pour slightly cooled chocolate ganache on top, then, once again, run a bench scraper around the sides to smooth it out. Finally, fill a piping bag with the remaining peanut butter frosting and pipe around the edges of the cake. I use Wilton 1M for the piped detail. If desired, you can finish off this chocolate peanut butter bombshell with peanut butter cups.

If you’re just learning how to use piping tips, my piping tips guide is a helpful resource, and don’t miss this complete list of cake baking success tips.

removing a slice of chocolate peanut butter cake with cake server.
slice of dark chocolate peanut butter cake on white plate set on red checkered napkin.

Now it’s your turn! Swoooon.

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3 layer chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and dark chocolate ganache on wood cake stand.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (includes chilling)
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: serves 12 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This super moist chocolate peanut butter cake combines rich chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter frosting and smooth chocolate ganache. Crumb-coated cake and ganache must chill before assembling and decorating the cake. See recipe Notes for further information about some ingredients.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (62g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder* (see note)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (180g) full fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water or black coffee*
  • 1 cup (180g) mini or regular semi-sweet chocolate chips (toss in 1 Tablespoon flour)

Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 3/4 cup (170g, or 1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cup (440g) creamy peanut butter*
  • 1 and 3/4 cup (210g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream, at room temperature

Chocolate Ganache

  • two 4-ounce quality semi-sweet chocolate bars (226g; 8 oz), finely chopped*
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • optional garnish: chopped or mini peanut butter cups

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. (See #6 on my top Cake Baking Tips.)
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder (if using) together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or you can use a whisk), mix the oil, eggs, and sour cream together on medium-high speed until combined. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the hot water/coffee, and whisk or beat on low speed until the batter is completely combined. Fold in the flour-coated chocolate chips. Batter is thin and you may see some air bubbles on the surface—that’s normal. You should have about 6–6.5 cups of batter. 
  3. Divide batter evenly between 3 pans. Bake for approximately 24–26 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely in the pan. The cakes may slightly sink in the middle as they cool—that’s expected.
  5. As the cakes cool, make the peanut butter frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the peanut butter and beat until completely combined, about 1–2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to help combine. Mixture will be thin. Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and salt and then pour in the heavy cream with the mixer running on low speed. After all of the cream has been added, turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat for 1–2 minutes, or until fully combined and creamy. Add up to 1/4 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting seems quite thin. You should end up with about 3.5–4 cups (850g) of peanut butter frosting. This amount makes enough for the filling, crumb coat, and for a little piping on top.
  6. Assemble cake + apply crumb coat: Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Using a large icing spatula or small offset spatula, evenly cover the top with about 1 cup peanut butter frosting. Repeat with 2nd and 3rd cake layers, spreading about 1 cup of peanut butter frosting in between each layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and around the sides as a crumb coat. Run a bench scraper around the cake to smooth out crumb coat. Chill uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours to set the crumb coat.
  7. As your crumb coat sets, make the chocolate ganache: Place finely chopped chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil—that’s too hot!) Pour over chocolate, then let it sit for 2–3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. With a metal spoon or small rubber spatula, very slowly stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Ganache is thin. The finer you chopped the chocolate, the quicker it will melt with the cream. If it’s not melting, do not microwave it. If needed, see Troubleshooting Chocolate Ganache. Once ganache mixture is smooth, let it chill for 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator to thicken before spreading on chilled crumb-coated cake.
  8. Pour/spoon thickened ganache on chilled cake. Smooth the top with an icing spatula and the sides with a bench scraper. If desired, pipe remaining peanut butter frosting around the edge of the cake. I used Wilton 1M piping tip on the pictured cake. Garnish with peanut butter cups, if desired. Serve cake immediately or chill, uncovered, for up to 4–6 hours before serving. Cake can be served at room temperature or chilled.
  9. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days. I like using a cake carrier for storing and transporting.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cake through step 4. Wrap the individual baked and cooled cake layers tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, then continue with step 5. You can prepare the peanut butter frosting in advance. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using and beat in a little more room-temperature heavy cream to thin out if necessary. You can also prepare the chocolate ganache ahead of time. Refrigerate prepared ganache for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before spreading onto cake. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or serve cold.
  2. Cocoa Powder: This recipe requires natural cocoa powder for its acidity, so do not use dutch-process.
  3. Espresso Powder/Coffee: Espresso powder and coffee will not make the cake taste like coffee. Rather, they deepen the chocolate flavor. I highly recommend them both. If coffee isn’t your thing, you can leave out the espresso powder and use extra hot water instead of the hot coffee.
  4. Sour Cream: Instead of sour cream, you can use plain yogurt. The cake won’t taste as rich, but it’s a fine substitute.
  5. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. (In a pinch, lower-fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cake won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
  6. Peanut Butter: To prevent the frosting from separating or coming out too thin or oily, use processed creamy peanut butter such as Jif or Skippy.
  7. Why Room Temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter and frosting mix together easily and evenly. Read more about why room temperature ingredients are important.
  8. Chocolate Ganache: You can use high-quality dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips if needed, but when melting chocolate, I recommend using pure chocolate baking bars (chocolate chips have stabilizers). You can find them right next to the chocolate chips in the baking aisle. I like Bakers or Ghirardelli brands, the ones labeled semi-sweet (56% cacao), which come in 4-ounce (113g) bars.
  9. Cupcakes: Here’s a very similar recipe for dark chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Feel free to fill them with the peanut butter frosting (instead of frosting them with it) and top each with chocolate ganache.

Keywords: dark chocolate peanut butter cake

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hi Sally, I made chocolate ga na he before, and it was so runny messy. How can I avoid this, please?

    1. Hi Paula, make sure you’re using baking chocolate, like the kinds suggested as well as heavy cream. Ganache is very runny after it’s mixed together, but since chocolate is solid at room temperature, the ganache will thicken. Give it some time to thicken.

      1. Do you think I could cut the recipe in half and use 2 8” pans? I don’t have 9” pans. Thank you

      2. Hi Laurel, you could certainly try that but we have not tested it. For cutting down/adjusting recipes for different cake pans and sizes, this Cake Pan Size & Conversions page is helpful. It may be easier to make the recipe as stated and bake the batter in batches. Bake the 1st 2 8-inch cakes and then bake the last when a cake pan is ready again.

  2. Thank you. I also made your Pumpkin Cheesecake In Jumbo style. Wow, they were amazing!!!!❤ thank you!❤

  3. I don’t have much call for a full cake but I’m thinking cupcakes filled with the peanut butter frosting and topped with ganache would be brilliant and far easier to share with others.

    It looks so good!

  4. I am making this as a 6 inch triple layer cake. Dark chocolate cupcakes, but what about amounts for the frosting and ganache?

  5. Hi Sally,
    I’d like to make this cake but I don’t need 12 servings. Can I use your chocolate cupcake recipe for 6 in pans and use the peanut butter frosting recipe from this cake? Should I adjust the frosting measurements?

    Thank you

  6. That looks delicious! Do the chocolate chips completely melt into the layers or does it leave a crunch or texture?

  7. So, what’s so funny is that I’ve taken to using your chocolate cake recipe (w/coffee) with my pb frosting and I read your recipe and it’s exactly like what I do! lol I do sometimes add a little more milk, pb, and sugar to get the amount, consistency and flavor I want, but this just makes me feel so great because I’m such a big fan of your site! I rely on it a lot! So, I started out using Crisco, but that just left too much of a grease flavor, and it was grainy. Lard was an option but eek..meat byproduct! Butter works perfectly! I use unsalted. Looking forward to more recipes! Happy baking!

  8. Silly question for you-I would love to make this but we aren’t a fan of dark chocolate. I saw where it was similar to your other chocolate cake, but is there a way to use this recipe still and change something to make it not dark? I would prefer to still use this recipe if possible! Thanks

    1. Hi Kasey, not a silly question at all! If you leave out the espresso powder and use hot water instead of coffee, the cake certainly doesn’t taste as dark.

  9. This cake sounds amazing! But, can I substitute almond butter for peanut butter? My grandson has a peanut allergy… or another nut butter? Love, love , love your recipes!!! Thank you…

  10. When this landed in my inbox yesterday, I knew I had to make it. So I made it exactly according to the recipe, and it does not disappoint. The peanut butter frosting is silky smooth and tastes like a lightened version of peanut butter. Not as sweet as typical frosting! I thought for sure the ganache would be too much, but it really made the cake. Chocolate peanut butter heaven.

  11. Excellent❣️ Oh my! There were no crumbs left! I followed the recipe exactly & it was a huge success! The frosting was creamy & not overly sweet.. The cake was moist, tender & flavorful. The ganache added an extra light flavor combination w/ the frosting. What a great recipe…great job, Sally!

  12. I reduced the recipe quantities to make a two-layer, 6-inch cake. Everything turned out just as the recipe described – no surprises. This is a rich, decadent cake – it’s like eating a candy bar, a fudge brownie, and the creamiest peanut butter sandwich ever, all wrapped up in one experience. I won’t make this often – it’s just too rich for that – but I will definitely make this again.

  13. Hi Sally… I’m a big fan of your site! I rely on it a lot! I am thinking of making a Biscoff frosting instead of peanut butter frosting. Would the measurements be the same? And how would I cut this recipe down to fit a 9×13″ pan?

    1. Hi Del, You can bake this cake in a 9×13 inch baking pan. Same oven temperature, about 35-40 minutes bake time. We haven’t tested this recipe with Biscoff instead of peanut butter but it should work! It may taste extra sweet. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

    1. Hi Rochelle, It’s best to use all-purpose flour here. Since the cake also calls for cocoa powder, which is a very light and fine dry ingredient, cake flour is simply too light. The cake would fall apart.

  14. This recipe was super delicious ! Made for my brother’s 50th birthday as he LOVES peanut butter . Definitely making this again for a celebration or party when I have a day to bake !! I doubled the peanut butter frosting to add to the top of the cake. Must have used too much frosting for crust frosting layer.

  15. I made this cake over the weekend and it’s amazing! I share your love of anything peanut butter and chocolate and I think this is my new favorite. The cake is moist and chocolatey, the peanut butter frosting is so delish! The ganache along with some peanut butter frosting to decorate creates a stunning finish! Highly recommended!

  16. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake a Huge Hit

    This recipe is a lot of work. But well worth it. But not something you’re going to whip up in an hour.

    Made it exactly as the recipe calls for. Just a few observations: First, the cake batter was a hair less than six cups for me, but that was okay, as I had about 2 cups in each of my three 8″ pans. The ganache produced just the right amount to cover the three-layer cake. Same with the peanut butter filling — the amount produced was perfect.

    One thing that would help, Sally, is for those of us who used choco chips for the ganache, rather than two 4oz chocolate bars, can you tell us the amount in terms of cups? For example, would it be 1.5 cups of choco chips for the ganache?

    To summarize, a labor-intensive cake that it absolutely worth the effort. If you like chocolate and peanut butter, you will love this cake. My wife and daughter do, and this might be their favorite cake! Thank you, Sally.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, John! I don’t recommend chocolate chips for the ganache unless you’re using good, quality chocolate chips. I usually use Ghirardelli chocolate chips when needed. 8 ounces of chocolate chips is typically 1 and 1/3 cups. Glad everyone loved this cake!

      1. Hi Sally … When it comes to adding the chocolate chips to the batter, what do you think of adding 1/2 cup of chocolate chips plus 1/2 cup of peanut butter chips instead of 1 cup of only chocolate chips. I’ll add that everyone in my family viewed the chips in the cake as a sort of nice surprise.

      2. A mix of the two sounds delicious, John!

  17. Scrumptious! Amazing flavor combination. Love the dark chocolate cake with the smooth, and not too sweet, not overpowering, peanut butter frosting. All wrapped in chocolate ganache. Yum! This one’s a winner! Thank you Sally!

  18. Can’t wait to make. Sounds delicious. Two of my favorite ingredients chocolate and peanut butter. Making for my mom’s 82nd birthday

  19. This looks amazing – I’m going to try making one for my mum’s 70th birthday.

    I’m struggling to find natural cocoa powder in New Zealand though – if I can’t find it, will dutch cocoa work as a substitute? I appreciate it says not to use it but I’m not sure I’ll have a choice.

    1. Hi Sarah, because of the baking soda in this recipe, you need the natural unsweetened cocoa powder to react properly with the baking soda. This is key for helping the cake to rise. This post on Dutch process vs. natural cocoa powder has more information on the differences between the two, if you’re interested. Let us know if you’re able to give this one a try!

  20. Fantastic recipe! It’s worth every calorie:). I followed the directions exactly and the cake was perfect. I’ve never made chocolate ganache so I appreciate the video. Thank you Sally!

  21. I’ve been eyeing this one up all week! We’re on holiday with 7 adults and 5 kids so a traybake version will do nicely for pudding – plenty of large roasting tins to choose from. Not sure of the exact size but they look similar to a 13″ x 9″ tin. Would you recommend halving the frosting and ganache to top it?

    1. I think halving both the frosting and ganache would be fine and just enough to cover the 9×13 inch cake. Hope everyone enjoys!

  22. I made this cake this weekend. It is amazing. I did see others ask this question, but I did half the recipe. It took 2 6′ cake pans. The perfect size for my small family. The peanut butter frosting is not overly sweet, and combined with the chocolate cake, wonderful!! I will tell you in case it wasn’t mentioned, the coffee and espresso powder give the chocolate a level up, don’t skip it! Will certainly make it again!!

  23. It was really good! It was incredible rich so we could only eat a small piece at a time. My family and I agreed that it tastes better the 2nd day, the frosting kind of absorbs into the cake and the taste isn’t as strong. ( it’s a perfect flavor) I also added pretzels on top which gave it a amazing crunch and a bit of salt
    Overall it was very good!!

  24. I made this recipe for a friend’s birthday in late July. It was amazing! I noticed you wearing an embroidered apron “Sally’s Baking Recipes” at the close on your recent videos. Is that available for purchase, or will it be available in the future? (Had to ask.) Looking forward to your next cookbook and all the fun that comes with it! Thank you!

    1. Hi Christi! Thank you so much for asking. I actually had it custom made from an Etsy shop. We sent in the logo and they embroidered it on: https://www.etsy.com/listing/773337278/custom-embroidered-apron-custom-logo

      1. Thank you for letting me know about the apron, Sally. It looks great on you!

  25. 5 STARS! I made this recipe this past weekend and it was a hit! My husband’s favorite flavor combination is peanut butter and chocolate and his birthday was this past Saturday. Perfect timing for this recipe to come out!

  26. I made this cake for a church potluck last Sunday. It was delicious and so well received! The method you used for the ganache was great. Previously I have used a mixer or had to whisk it for a long time, but this method was so much easier and the ganache was so shiny and smooth! Thank you for sharing your delicious recipes!

  27. This cake is absolutely out of this world! I was craving peanut butter and thought I would give it a try. The description is absolutely perfect – very rich and chocolately but not overly sweet. The peanut butter frosting is light and fluffy and so full of flavor and the chocolate ganasch just takes it one level higher. Everyone I shared this with had the same wonderful reaction at the first bite. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful creation.

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