Recipe: Peanut Butter Chocolate Icebox Cake

Recipe: Peanut Butter Chocolate Icebox Cake

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Meghan Splawn
May 2, 2017
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Look, I have zero restraint when it comes to chocolate and peanut butter and showed none in creating this over-the-top chocolate peanut butter icebox cake. Not even trying to humble-brag here — this is the best chocolate peanut butter no-bake dessert that ever existed.

Built on the back of the classic buckeye candy, this icebox cake is a decadent Reese's-lover's dream. Layers of rich chocolate and peanut butter mousses are supported by a thick peanut butter cream, and chocolate ganache acts as the delicious glue holding it all together.

Your fork will slowly sink into each layer, gathering morsels of chocolate and peanut butter, studded with peanuts, more chocolate, and tender chocolate graham crackers. Sounds decadent and complicated, but by transforming the chocolate ganache and peanut butter cream into both the mousse-like filling and the chocolate topping, I'm saving you both time and mixing bowls in the process. Let's do this.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How to Be a Chocolate-Peanut Butter Hero

Icebox cakes are built with whipped cream and layered with graham crackers or cookies. The whipped cream softens the graham cracker layers, making a mousse-meets-cake texture that is naturally creamy.

You Will Need

  • 1 quart of heavy cream
  • 2 (4-ounce) chocolate bars
  • 1 sleeve of chocolate graham crackers
  • 1 (20-piece bag) of mini peanut butter cups (bite-sized Reese's)
  • Powdered sugar (but that's already in your pantry, right?)
  • Parchment paper
  • 9x5-inch loaf pan

The Chocolate Ganache Triple Threat

This icebox cake starts by making a chocolate ganache, which will be used in between the graham cracker layers, as flavoring for chocolate whipped cream, and as a chocolate drizzle on top. Then a thick peanut butter cream is used for both a buckeye-inspired layer (it tastes just like a peanut butter cup!) and for folding into more whipped cream.

Once you have those four components made — the chocolate ganache, chocolate whipped cream, peanut butter cream, and peanut butter whipped cream — assembly is easy. Start with chocolate graham crackers in the bottom of a loaf pan and make a base of the peanut butter cream. Then alternate layers of the chocolate whipped cream and peanut butter cream with more chocolate graham crackers and the ganache. You'll have four layers in total, and the hardest part will be waiting for the cake to set overnight.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Icebox Cake

Serves 12

For the ganache:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream

For the peanut butter cream:
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups cold heavy cream, divided

For the layers and finishing:
1 sleeve chocolate graham crackers (about 12), broken in half, divided
18 to 20 mini peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped, divided
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1/4 cup honey roasted peanuts

Make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour over the chocolate and set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk until homogeneous and smooth. It may be thin at this point, but will thicken as it cools while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.

Make the peanut butter cream: Place the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and 1 cup of the cream in a medium bowl and beat on medium speed with an electric hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Transfer 1 cup of the peanut butter mixture to a small bowl and set aside.

Place the remaining 1 cup of cream in a large bowl and beat on medium speed with a clean electric hand mixer into soft peaks. Add the remaining peanut butter mixture and continue whipping until stiff peaks form; set aside.

Build the cake: Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with a parchment paper sling that hangs over the long sides.

Place a single layer of graham crackers in the bottom of the pan. Dollop the reserved 1 cup peanut butter mixture onto the crackers and carefully spread into an even layer. Sprinkle 2/3 of the peanut butter cups over the mixture and press them gently into it.

Cover with another layer of graham crackers. Dollop with 1/3 cup of the ganache and spread into an even layer. Dollop 1/2 of the peanut butter cream over the ganache and spread into an even layer.

Repeat layering with graham crackers, 1/3 cup of the ganache, and the remaining peanut butter cream. Top with a final layer of graham crackers; set aside.

At this point you should have about 3/4 cup of the ganache remaining. Transfer 1/2 cup of the ganache to a zip-top plastic bag and set aside for garnishing the finished cake.

Place the remaining 1 cup cream in a medium bowl and beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer into soft peaks. Add the remaining 1/4 cup ganache and beat to stiff peaks. Spread this over the top layer of graham crackers.

Use the parchment overhang to cover the cake and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, run a table knife between the cake and the pan, especially where the parchment sling doesn't cover it. Use the sling to pull the cake out of the pan. Cut a small hole in the reserved bag of ganache and drizzle over the cake. Top with the remaining 1/3 peanut butter cups and peanuts. Cut into slices.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: Cake can be assembled and refrigerated up to 3 days in advance.
  • Storage: Store leftovers loosely wrapped in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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