Sometimes a baking fail is just the inspiration I need to try something new. I originally baked my Devil’s Food Cake from Zoë Bakes Cakes in cupcake liners that promised to be sturdy enough not to need a muffin pan to support them. Well, I put them to the test and it was a complete fail! The liquid batter poured out of the sunken liners after about 5 minutes and I knew I was going to have a mess on my hands. One of the best lessons I learned in culinary school was not to panic. If things aren’t going as planned, pivot. That’s exactly what I did and ended up with these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cakettes (larger than a cupcake, but still an individual-sized mini cake). Since I had to rescue the cake from the liners and the pan (see my Instagram story for the visual), I ended up with lots of scraps of cake. Instead of just snacking on the scraps (which is how I typically roll), I used them in the Chocolate American Buttercream (also from my book, Zoë Bakes Cakes), which gave the center of these little cakes even more flavor. I added peanut butter and chopped peanuts to add a crunch and flavor that I knew would be a big hit (these were destined for my neighbor’s house and it is her favorite combo). No one looking at this post would assume it started out as a kitchen disaster. Stay flexible and give yourself permission to experiment and you will come up with something fabulous and delicious, even if it starts out a bit wonky. In my book I have a chapter called the “Cake Academy” for people looking for some of the hows and whys of cake baking. It is a fun bit of food science and technique that can give all bakers a little more confidence to play with their cakes.
“François is really just a hippie at heart who wants to spread the love through cake.” Jenny Rosenstrach from her review of Zoë Bakes Cakes in the New York Times! I will not lie, it is a total jump-up-and-dance thrill to read her generous words about the book. She captured all that I felt about writing this book in her review and I am so grateful.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cakettes
makes 9 cakettes
Inspired by many recipes from Zoë Bakes Cakes – just another way to use the recipes in creative ways.
Devil’s Food Cake:
To make these cakettes, I will have you bake my Devil’s Food recipe in a 12×16-inch Baker’s Half Sheet, lined with parchment – no need for you to have the cupcake liner fail 😉. Prepare the batter as directed, spread evenly over the greased and lined baking sheet, and bake at 350°F for about 20-25 minutes or until set.
Once the cake is cool, use a 3-inch Round Cutter to cut out 18 pieces of cake. Set aside.
Chocolate Peanut Butter American Buttercream:
1/2 batch of the American Buttercream (add the heavy cream after the cake scraps and peanut butter to have a sense of how thick it will be. You may end up needing a bit more than usual to make up for the cake.
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder (Dutch or Natural will work)
2 ounces melted and cooled bittersweet chocolate (You can use semisweet, but I found it a bit too sweet)
Scraps of devil’s food cake left in the pan – optional, but fun
1/2 cup peanut butter
Blend the buttercream, cocoa, melted chocolate, devil’s food scraps, and peanut butter until smooth and spreadable.
To assemble and crumb coat the cakes, spread about 3 tablespoons of the buttercream over half the cake circles. Sandwich the buttercream with the remaining cake circles. Frost the tops and sides of the cakes with the remaining buttercream, then refrigerate the cakes to set.
1 pound chopped chocolate
2 cups heavy whipping cream
heat the cream to a simmer, add the chocolate, swirl them together. After about 3 minutes, gently whisk until smooth. Let the ganache cool slightly, so it is still pourable, but thick enough to coat the cakes in a thick layer.
Place the chilled cakes on a clean cooling rack, set over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pour the warm ganache over the top of the cakes to fully cover them. You will find much more information about pouring ganache in the “Cake Academy” in Zoë Bakes Cakes. You can also watch me do this in my Instagram video. Let the ganache set on the cakes for about 45 minutes.
Chop the peanuts into fine pieces and press them to the sides of the cakes. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a day. I like them served at room temperature.