“Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.” -Frida Kahlo
We were all expecting it to happen ever since Dan moved out to Colorado, we just didn’t know exactly when. That is, until he excitedly spilled the beans at a 30th birthday party a few weeks ago. Whispers passed quickly through the room that night like the fireball shots slinging from the bar.
“Did you hear Bethany’s getting engaged this weekend?”
“Dan is proposing to Bethany this weekend!”
“Dan has a ring in his pocket right now!!”
Even the strangers on the bar’s patio knew about the ring and the alleged proposal plans. Of course, I was over the moon for Dan (and for Bethany, one of my best friends) but terrified of my own mouth; I knew better than to mix whiskey with secrets.
Over the next few days, we eagerly waited in suspense for confirmation of the buzz from the birthday. Fortunately everyone managed to keep mum until the following Saturday when Dan proposed to Bethany in her hometown on the Eastern shore of Virginia.
The following day, we planned to surprise her again at a small engagement celebration. I was thrilled to celebrate this match made in heaven and even more thrilled to bake a cake for the surprise gathering!!
For the three years I lived with Bethany after college, during the time in which she met Dan, I had made dozens of batches of peanut butter banana chocolate chip cookies, usually by request. Now Bethany has the metabolism of a bat and the willpower of a prima ballerina, which, made her the perfect roommate for my baking affairs. I could bake cookies whenever I had a craving, eat one or two, and then hide the rest of the batch in the top drawer of her oak bureau to keep them out of my sight. It didn’t take long for Dan to discover this system as the faint aroma of chocolate peanut butter and banana drifting from my roommate’s dresser often led him right to the stash. That’s what you’d call a smart cookie.
I usually like to make carrot cake for engagement parties because carrot…karat… just seems to make sense and it’s cute, I think. (Well, I’ve only made one other engagement party cake so far.) But I wanted the cake for Dan and Bethany to resemble the cookie that reminds me of them so I chose a peanut butter chocolate cake filled with a peanut butter crispy crunch* and banana butter cream frosting. It was a big hit at the party and even the bartender approved.
Cheers to the soon to be Almons! I’m so excited for your lives together and can I just suggest homemade #AlmonJoys as a treat for the next celebration? Bridal shower, bachelorette, etc.? Ok, I’ll start working on a recipe…
*Next time for the pb crispy crunch I’ll use Rice Krispies cereal instead of broken rice cakes. The rice cakes were starting to harden in the crunch layer. I doubt Rice Krispies will (ever) harden because the box on the top of my pantry has been open for 5 months and is still seemingly fresh. I tested for staleness last week and it still SNAPPED, CRACKLED and POPPED.
^^Beautiful iPhone photo of the sliced cake. Apparently sugar affects my ability to use my real camera so once I cut the cake, all hope was lost.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Crunch and Banana Buttercream Frosting
Makes a two-layer 8-inch round cake
Cake recipe from Molly Yeh’s Peanut Butter Sprinkle Cake (Molly’s blog is the cat’s meow.)
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flavorless oil, like canola
1 cup buttermilk
4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter (natural or unnatural but if it’s unsalted, add 1/2 tsp of salt)
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup mini marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350.
Grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment.
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients except for the boiling water. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then stir in the boiling water. Pour into cake pans and bake for 28-30 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, and then turn the cakes onto a lightly greased cooling rack.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and peanut butter until creamy. Add marshmallows stirring until combined. Remove from heat and add rice krispies and nuts. Set aside until ready to use for cake or eat immediately for snack.
Combine ripe bananas, buttermilk, lemon juice, fruit preserver and vanilla in a small bowl. Mix with fork or wooden spoon until creamy. In a separate medium bowl, whip butter and cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add banana mixture and powdered sugar alternately to the butter cream cheese mixture until combined. (Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before frosting cake.)
(If you don’t have a cake board big enough for your 8-inch round, cover one or two old magazines with tinfoil or wax paper.) After the cakes have cooled, place one layer on a cake board and cover with a thick layer of frosting. Spread a generous portion of peanut butter crunch over the frosting. On the bottom of the second layer, spread a thin layer of frosting (this is just so it will act as a glue and “stick” to the crunch) then flip the layer over and place it on top of the first layer. Using a knife or offset spatula cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Decorate the lower rim of the bottom cake layer with peanut butter crunch and use the remaining crunch to cover the top of the cake OR get creative with the crunch in whatever way tickles your fancy. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 1-2 hours to set frosting.