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Buckeye Cake

Peanut butter and chocolate has to be one of the most delicious flavor combinations of all time. Buckeyes are the perfect example of this and are also the inspiration behind this buckeye cake recipe.

Buckeyes are incredibly easy to make, and usually include peanut butter, powdered sugar and chocolate. It’s basically a sweetened peanut butter ball covered in chocolate!!

image of a buckeye cake recipe made with chocolate cake layers and decorated with buckeye balls

I figured if I love buckeyes that much on their own, I couldn’t imagine how delicious a buckeye-inspired cake would be.

Immediately my imagination went to work…I pictured moist chocolate cake layers, creamy peanut butter frosting, chocolate drizzles and lots of buckeyes to decorate the cake!!

Substitutions and Swaps – Chocolate Cake Layers

This buckeye cake recipe use quite a few ingredients and I know you might not have all of them on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.

image of flour being leveled in a measuring cup

Below are some swaps and substitutions that you can make.

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar, as it will change the texture of the cake layers.
  • Eggs – If you have an egg allergy you can use 4 flaxseed eggs or 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce + 1 extra Tbsp baking powder.
  • Sour cream – You can also use full fat yogurt, buttermilk, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat) if you’re dairy free.
  • Unsweetened Baking Cocoa – You can use dutch-processed baking cocoa, black cocoa, or regular unsweetened baking cocoa in this recipe.
  • All-Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour, but you can use a gluten free flour blend or cake flour if needed.
image of a buckeye cake being assembled with chocolate cake layers, peanut butter frosting and filled with chopped up pieces of buckeye.

Substitutions and Swaps – Peanut Butter Frosting

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Peanut Butter – Be sure to use creamy peanut butter in this frosting! Some natural peanut butters tend to separate and can break the frosting, so I recommend using a really smooth peanut butter like JIF or Skippy.
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) will work fine in this frosting recipe if that’s what you have on hand.

Adding the Chocolate Ganache Drips

I prefer using a bottle to add drips to cakes because it makes the process so much easier and faster. However, you can also use the spoon method if you prefer it!

The Two Most Important Factors to Make A Perfect Drip

The first is that your cake is properly chilled. Once frosted, you should allow it sit it your fridge for at least 20 minutes, or in your freezer for 10 minutes so that the frosting is cold and firm to the touch.

The second important aspect of a drip cake is the temperature of the ganache!! It should be slightly warmer than room temperature, but not so hot that it melts your buttercream.

The best way to ensure your ganache is the right temperature is do a test drip. You can’t tell, but the first drip on my cake above was a test drip. Once I knew i had my ganache at the right temperature, I continued adding my drips.

image of chocolate drips being added to a buckeye cake

MAKING A TEST DRIP IS SUCH A CRUCIAL STEP!!

Make one drip on the side of your cake, and let it flow. Allow it to sit for a couple minutes.

See what it looks like, if it’s the length and look you’re after. If not, adjust as needed. Either pop the ganache into the fridge for a couple minutes to allow it to cool off a bit more, or pop the bottle (or bowl) in the microwave and heat for 5-10 seconds.

Decorating The Top of This Buckeye Cake

With the textured frosting and beautiful drip on this cake, I wanted to keep the decoration of the top of the cake relatively simple.

I made my batch of buckeyes in varying sizes and stacked then a ring around the top of the cake. Use leftover peanut butter frosting to help keep the buckeyes in place as you arrange them.

image of a buckeye cake made with peanut butter frosting and chocolate cake layers

Tips for Making the Best Buckeye Cake

  • Don’t overmix your batter! Mix on the speed the recipe recommends until the cake flour is just combined.
  • Be sure to properly measure your flour. Either spoon it into the cup measure, then level with a knife or use a kitchen scale.
  • Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature to help them mix together better.
  • Don’t level your cake layers until they are completely cooled.
  • This recipe can also be used to make four, 6-inch cake layers. They will need slightly longer to bake, and I recommend baking them at 325F for 34-37 minutes.
  • One batch of batter can be also be used to make one 9×13 inch buckeye sheet cake. Bake it at 325F for 40-50 minutes.
  • Make this buckeye butter cake vegan or dairy free! Use your favorite type of dairy free milk to replace the buttermilk and heavy cream, vegan butter sticks in place of the butter, vegan chocolate and flax seed eggs.
image of buckeye cake sliced with peanut butter buttercream

Making This Buckeye Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The ganache locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining ganache to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
image of buckeye cake being cut into to show it's peanut butter frosting and tender chocolate cake layers

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this buckeye cake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! Please share your thoughts or any questions you might have in the comments section below.

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Yield: 24

Buckeye Cake

image of buckeye cake being cut into to show it's peanut butter frosting and tender chocolate cake layers

This buckeye cake recipe is packed with peanut butter and chocolate! It's made with moist chocolate cake layers and the best peanut butter frosting.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 32 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 22 minutes

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (500 grams)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp (2 sticks, 226 grams)
  • 4 large eggs, room temp (224 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking soda (6 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 1 cup hot water (237 grams)
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temp (255 grams)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (100 grams)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (390 grams)

Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (339 grams)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (120 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 7 cups powdered sugar (875 grams)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (115 grams)

Chocolate Drip Recipe

  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (88 grams)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (77 grams)

Optional Fillings and Add-Ins

Instructions

Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line four 7-inch or three 8-inch pans with parchment rounds and spray with non-stick baking spray.
  3. Add 2 1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream together on a high speed for 1-2 minutes with a whisk attachment or hand mixer. The mixture should become light in color.
  4. Mix in 4 large eggs on a medium speed, two at a time.
  5. Add 1 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 baking powder, and 1 tsp salt. Mix on high for another minute.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk together 1 cup of hot water, 1 cup of sour cream and 1 cup of cocoa powder until no clumps remain.
  7. Next, add 1 cup of flour into the butter/egg mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula, to ensure the flour is fully incorporated.
  8. Pour in half of the sour cream/cocoa mixture and gently pulse the mixture to incorporate the liquid (if you don't, you'll end up splattering the cocoa mixture all over you kitchen!)
  9. Mix in the 2nd cup of flour, at a low speed. Pour in the remaining sour cream/cocoa mixture, and again gently pulse, then mix on low until fully combined.
  10. Add in the last cup of flour, and mix on low until the flour is incorporated.
  11. Evenly divide between the prepared pans. I like to use a kitchen scale to ensure each pan has exactly the same amount of batter.
  12. Bake for 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  13. Allow layers to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around the edge of the pans to help separate the layers from the pans.
  14. Place the pans in the freezer for about 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers from the pans.
  15. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers, then set aside. If you make the cake layers in advance, you can wrap and freeze them for up to 3 weeks.

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the peanut butter buttercream frosting.
  2. Beat 1 1/2 cups of butter and 1/2 cup peanut butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment or hand mixer until smooth. 
  3. Mix in 1/2 tsp of salt.
  4. Slowly add in 7 cups of powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Half way through adding the powdered sugar, pour in 1/2 cup of heavy cream or milk to make it easier to mix the frosting.
  5. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.
  6. If the frosting is too thick, add an extra Tbsp of heavy cream. If it's too thin, add in another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.
  7. Stir by hand with a rubber spatula for a couple minutes to get the frosting SUPER smooth.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Chocolate Ganache Drip

  1. Place 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat 1/3 cup of heavy cream in a heatproof bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until gently bubbling.
  3. If you don’t have a microwave or prefer to use the stove top, you can heat the cream over a medium heat in a pan until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat.
  4. Gently pour the heavy cream over the chocolate chips, making sure they are covered with cream. Allow mixture to sit for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir slowly until the cream and chocolate are fully combined, and ganache is silky smooth. Pour into a plastic squirt bottle to easily add drips to a cake. If you don’t have any plastic bottles on hand, you can also use a spoon to drizzle it over cakes.
  6. Set aside to cool for about 20 minutes (or place in fridge for about 10 minutes), until the mixture is just slightly warm to the touch.

To Assemble This Buckeye Cake:

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Spread an even layer of peanut butter buttercream between each cake layer with a large offset spatula. Top with chopped up bits of buckeye and a drizzle of chocolate ganache.
  3. Repeat with remaining cake layers.
  4. Once the cake layers are stacked, spread a thin coat of frosting around the the cake, to fully cover the cake layers.
  5. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  6. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake. Smooth using either a bench scraper or a frosting comb.
  7. Chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch again before adding the chocolate drip.
  8. Once the cake is chilled, complete a test drip to check the consistency of you ganache. If the test drip seems too thick, try heating up the ganache for 5-10 additional seconds in the microwave. If the mixture seems too thin, allow it cool a bit longer, then try another test drip.
  9. Top the cake with a ring of buckeyes and enjoy!

Notes

Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.

Make your frosting ahead of time too,or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

Yield

24

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 467Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 69mgSodium 285mgCarbohydrates 72gFiber 2gSugar 56gProtein 5g
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