Here's something I've noticed as I get older: not everybody grew up thinking birthdays were the bee's knees. Isn't that crazy? I've also noticed that I take it as my responsibility to reveal to them how awesome—and delicious—birthdays can be. Let's start with Mike.
Cyndi made this cake to celebrate her and Zander's anniversary, so I luckily had a firsthand account of what it's like to make this. I have a bit of anxiety when it comes to making cakes from scratch. They always look better in the pictures! But I knew Deb wouldn't let me down; her recipes are always on par with her awesome pictures. So after much hemming and hawing, I buttered my pans, lined them with parchment paper, and lined them again! (Note: The recipe calls for three layers, but I have only two pretty deep cake pans, so I went with that. It turned out great and there was no spillage.) Then I gathered my ingredients.
I'm usually a spontaneous baker, so gathering my ingredients beforehand and buttering the pans as directed was a huge step in the right direction for me, and it shone through in the cake. They baked up in 35 minutes and I let them cool for a good 20 minutes before even thinking about touching them. After 20 minutes, I turned them over onto more parchment paper on top of my wire rack.
Then I froze them while I made the peanut butter icing. I made this on a beautiful warm day, so freezing them to make them easier to handle was a no-brainer.
And I assembled my peanut butter icing ingredients.
And proceeded to make a big mess. Powdered sugar and hand mixers aren't friends.
I pulled out my frozen layers and assembled! What you see below is a crumb layer of peanut butter frosting. I then chilled the whole thing and applied the rest of the frosting.
While that chilled in the fridge (and after a good 15 minutes trying to rearrange everything to fit a cake pan in there), I assembled my chocolate ganache ingredients (not pictured: peanut butter!).
I was all excited about using my new baking scale for this recipe, but alas all of the ingredients were in volume measurements. But you bet I jumped at the chance to measure out 8 ounces of chocolate from the Trader Joe's pound of chocolate I bought for the occasion.
Combine the corn syrup, chocolate, and peanut butter in a double boiler (or your preferred chocolate melting method; I just bought this handy boiler insert from IKEA recently), and stir until melted. Remove it all from the heat and mix in your half and half.
Dump all of that glistening chocolate ganache on top of your finished cake with peanut butter icing and you've just raised the stakes.
Spread it out until it runs down the sides. (Note: My ganache didn't turn out as liquidy and oozy as Deb's did, which I attribute to my boiler being too close to the bottom of the pot when I melted it. Slower melting is better and makes for a more even ganache.)
But still, no complaints.
Pop that sucker in the fridge until you're ready to serve or for at least 30 minutes to let the icing set. Throw some birthday candles in there and get your friend with a sprained ankle boot on to carry it into the living room.
Watch birthdays become magical again.
Recipe after the jump.