Peanut Butter Fudgy Chocolate Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process), I used Pernigotti
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2 eggs
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1 recipe Peanut Butter Fudgy Frosting, recipe to follow
1 recipe Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache, recipe to follow

Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously butter the bottom and sides of two 8" round cake pans. Trace the bottom of the pans onto wax paper or parchment with a pencil and then cut out the circles. Place the paper in the bottom of each pan and butter the paper.

Place water in a microwave safe glass with instant coffee and warm for 30 seconds, or until the coffee granules dissolve.  Set aside.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide batter between prepared cake pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely.  Once cakes are completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap and place and put them in the freezer for a few hours.

To frost the cakes, torte the cakes (cut them in half horizontally).  Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer and the next. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting (You can smooth a thin layer over the cake, called a crumb coat and then put in the freezer to set, for about 30 minutes).  Remove from the freezer and frost the cake with the remaining frosting (reserving ½ cup for the top).

Smooth the remaining peanut butter frosting over the center of the cake.  To decorate the cake with the Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache make stars with the 1M (large star tip) around the entire top of the cake.  Repeat this again. Making 2 rows of stars on the top of the cake.  Using the medium start tip make a star border around the bottom of the cake.

Sprinkle the center top of the cake with chopped peanuts.

Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the ganache and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.

Peanut Butter Fudgy Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 pounds (about 7 ½ cups) confectioners sugar, sifted
1½ cups peanut butter, I used half chunky and half smooth

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar (about 2 cups at a time), mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.  Frost cake.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
¾ cup half-and-half

In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate and peanut butter. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth.  Allow to come to room temperature and thicken.  You may choose to chill it in the refrigerator for a few hours.  Place 2/3 the thickened ganache into a piping bag with a large star tip (1M) and the remaining ganache into a piping bag with a medium star tip (#32).

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