I have a secret love of Jennifer Lopez. I own Tevas *and* Birkenstocks. I once shoved more than 15 marsh mellows in my mouth at one time (on stage in front of thousands of people) and nearly threw up on stage, but managed to hold it in and win the prize. As a teenager I had such a crush on Jonathan Brandis that I wrote a script that added me (as a love interest, of course) into SeaQuest DSV and mailed it to Steven Spielberg. I love canned mushrooms. I sort my Skittles into color piles before I eat them. I still watch Saved By the Bell when I find it on T.V. Believe me, I could go on, but I'll spare you all of the quirky details.
Now, with all of this background, you will be much less surprised to find out that I play on a kickball team. See, if I had come right out with the kickball thing, you might have thought that I was little strange...but with all that information, you aren't a bit thrown off. Pun intended.
Anyway, I joined an adult kickball league shortly after moving to L.A. I didn't know a lot of people and I figured that the kind of adult that plays kickball is my kind of adult. I was right. Fast forward a few months, I've made some great friends, stayed out way too many late nights at local bars, and made an awesome use of my old soccer cleats.
My team is in the playoffs right now, and our captain sent out an email earlier this week saying, "anyone who likes to cook, feel free to bring a baked good to our next game." Now, I know this was directed to me because we had had a conversation at our previous game about 1) how I liked to cook and 2) how I had thought about bringing cookies or something to a game. He managed to cleverly ask me to follow through with my promise by couching it in a request to the entire team. Smart boy. It worked.
I decided to make my mom's fabulous chocolate peanut butter cake bars after scouring my memory for a crowd pleasing, unique dessert. My mom used to make this cake for me to bring to school as a child, and I've never forgotten the rich creamy frosting or the moist chocolaty cake. Even as a kid, I couldn't eat very much of this cake at once. It is so decadent that just a few bites are all that anyone can handle at a time.
Sadly enough, I had a doctor's appointment for the pinched nerve in my elbow and a stack of work to do last night. I had to miss my game. Boo! However, what my kickball team missed out on, my co-workers relished. I brought in these rich, sweet pieces of chocolate peanut butter goodness and they were scarfed in minutes.
I hope this cake becomes a regular in your repertoire -- It has certainly earned a spot in mine.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Bars*
For the cake:
--1 cup butter
--1/2 cup cocoa
--1 cup water
--1/2 cup buttermilk (or in my case, one scant cup soy milk and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar)
--1 teaspoon vanilla
--2 eggs, well beaten
--2 cups sugar
--2 cups flour
--1 teaspoon baking soda
For the Frosting:
-- 1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
--1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
--1/4 cup cocoa
--6 teaspoons buttermilk (or soy milk with a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar)
--1 teaspoon vanilla
--1 box confectioners sugar (16 oz.)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
For the Cake:
1) Simmer the butter, cocoa, water, buttermilk, and eggs in a sauce pan on low heat until it bubbles
2) Take mixture off the heat, and stir in the vanilla
3) In a large bowl, stir the sugar, flour, and baking soda together until completely mixed
4) Pour the hot, wet mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix the batter with electric beaters until completely smooth.
5) Pour the batter into a well-greased 9 x 13 pan and bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean (about 25 minutes). Set aside to cool.
For the Frosting:
1) Heat the butter, cocoa, and buttermilk in a sauce pan on low. Stir until butter is melted, cocoa is incorporated, and the mixture is bubbling a little. Take off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
2) Pour the confectioners sugar into a large bowl and then pour the warm cocoa mixture over the sugar. Beat until smooth. The frosting should be very thick, but if it is impossible to stir, beat in a tiny bit more buttermilk.
1) Spread the peanut butter over top of the completely cooled cake. Spread the chocolate frosting over the peanut butter, doing your best to maintain the integrity of the layers.
Cut into small pieces. Savor the deliciousness. :)
Next time I plan on using only 1 or 2 eggs. I think I'd prefer a more brownie-like cake, verses the lighter fluffy cake that 3 eggs ensures. I've also debated pouring the cake batter into a larger pan so as to have a more equal cake to frosting ratio, but I've always talked myself out of it because the frosting is so rich it needs a substantial cake layer to balance it out.
* My mom calles it Reese Pieces Cake, but I've changed the name to avoid trademark infringement. Blame it on the IP class I took in law school.