Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake - a là Nigella Lawson

 Mr P. can still surprise me after all these years: he doesn't like chocolate and peanut butter together!  Quelle horreur!  I used to make a fluffy PB cheesecake on a chocolate crust.  He told me after some years that he didn't like it.  Whaaaat the?  Sacrilege, my dears.  But I love the salty, sweet combo, so this is right up my alley, and down my gullet.

Here we have another Nigella recipe, from her book Cook, Eat, Repeat.  I've said before that Nigella has been a lasting influence on my cooking - her simple techniques and family-friendly flavours.  A friend of mine recently spoke of her with disdain - to my horror.  He thought she was uppity and snobby and so on.  Hmmmph, is all I can say to that.  Though I have to confess, when I saw her 'in concert' so to speak a few years ago, she was - mmm - incredibly dull.  Perhaps if she weren't beautiful and rich and well-connected ...     

soooo delicious, she says modestly

Serves 8-12:


for the cake:

200g./7oz unsalted butter (use salted if you wish; I won't tell) which you have chopped into biiiig chunks

250 mL/8.5oz just-boiled water

50g./1.8oz cocoa

100g./3.5oz soft dark brown sugar 

125g./4.5oz caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

225g./8oz plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarb of soda

2 large eggs 

For the icing:

300g./10.5oz icing sugar (powdered sugar)

150g./5.3oz unsalted butter, at room temp.

200g./7oz smooth peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

4 x 15mL/0.5oz tbs thickened cream/double cream

Decorate with:

a couple of palmfuls (Nigella says 60g./2oz) of roasted peanuts or nuts of your choice


Whack your oven on at 180C/350F

Butter 2 x 20cm/8 inch cake tins, and line with baking paper 

Grab a large and wide (ish) saucepan, into which you put the butter, the boiled water, the cocoa and both sugars

Have it on a low heat, and whisk gently away till everything is beautifully amalgamated

Take it off the heat, whisk in the vanilla, and leave to cool for five minutes

In a smallish mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and bicarb soda together

Grab a small jug and whisk the eggs lightly together

Pour and whisk the eggs gradually into the cocoa mixture till well combined

Lastly, whisk in the flour mixture gently till you have a beautiful, smooth, dark batter

Pour into the prepared tins, and bake for 18-20 minutes - till a skewer (yes, you guessed it) is plunged into its dark heart and comes out kinda/mostly clean

Let the cakes sit around (on racks) ruminating on life for fifteen minutes while you make the icing

Sift the icing sugar/mixture into a large bowl 

Grab another large mixing bowl (or the stand mixer bowl if using), and beat the PB and butter together for 3-5 minutes (five mins. with a hand whisk), then beat in the vanilla and salt

Now add the icing sugar bit by bit into the butter/PB mix; and keep going till all the sugar is incorporated (you can get a bit frisky after you've beaten half the sugar in, and go for it in three biiiig amounts)

Keep beating for three minutes; scrape the mixture down and beat for another minute

And add the cream spoon by spoon, (whilst still beating), then keep beating for six minutes until it's soft and light and airy

Peel off the baking paper from the cooled cake bottoms, lay one layer down on a serving plate, flat-side up and spread a third of the icing over the cake with an angled/offset palette knife/spatula   

On goes the second cake layer, flat-side down (dome-side up), and slap on another third of the icing, all over the top of the cake

The rest of the icing goes over the sides of the whole cake; smooth it out and top with the nuts (or not, as you choose)

The cake will last in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or in the fridge if you live in sunny, humid Queensland :-)


Nigella says you can make this in 4 shallow cake tins; if you're interested in that, check out her website, 'cos I think 2 layers is fine

I quite like salted butter in sweets, so go ahead and use it if you wish in the cake and the icing

Okay, I confess; I used icing mixture, not icing sugar!  Who cares?  It's so much easier to use

And I reckon I'll use crunchy PB next time.  I like it crunchy!  Just don't use the health-store stuff; Nigella says to use regular commercial PB

whisk in the water, cocoa and sugars with the butter

whisk the flour, baking powder and bicarb soda, then the eggs, 

lastly you add in the flour mixture after the eggs

pour the batter into the prepared tins

beat the devil out of that PB and butter

till you get this

spread a third of the icing over the bottom layer

iced and ready to go

afternoon tea

Mr P. had his lady employee in on the day I made this beauty; he had a designer mate from up north visiting, and another northern lady designer in, and then another designer mate dropped by, and I took some over to our elderly neighbour, and then Princess Pia dropped by for a piece ...  By the end of the day, we had demolished much of the cake.  But I did put the rest in the fridge.  It's hot and it's humid here, and I didn't want buttercream icing slip-sliding away.  

© Sherry's Pickings


  1. What? Mr. P doesn't like the combo of chocolate and peanut butter??? I am too a fan of sweet and salty's just sensational. The cake looks rich and absolutely irresistible. I really love the dark cocoa powder you use. Which brand is it? Did you get it online?

    1. hi angie
      i do use Dutch and German cocoas but in this case i used a black cocoa. i can't remember the brand, but you can buy it online. just make sure to look for black cocoa. this is different to dark cocoa. cheers S

  2. Just noticed it's Van Houten :-) That's what I can find here too.

    1. just make sure to buy BLACK cocoa not dark. it does make a wonderful contrast with the icing, doesn't it? :-)

    2. Thanks, Sherry. Van Houten seems the only brand selling deep black cocoa powder over here.

    3. glad you can find some angie! tho oddly when i checked, i couldn't find any van houten black cocoa just dark:)

  3. I love chocolate and peanut butter as in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Your recipe sounds fabulous, though I don't have enough mouths to feed these days for such an extravaganza.

    Oddly, I do not like chocolate combined with hazelnuts -- can't stand nutella. So many choices!

    be safe... mae at

    1. hi Mae
      no Nutella? oh my! i adore it! yes hubby and i can't eat a whole cake so we share it around.

  4. I can't imagine not liking peanut butter and chocolate together. Well, I guess I can imagine it, but why would I want to? :-) Love that combo, and this looks terrific. Nice -- thanks.

    1. Thanks KR. It went down a treat with all and sundry. yep Mr P. is weird!

  5. I like her too and have a couple of her cookbooks but never made any recipe from them (probably because I have over 300+ cookbooks) The cake looks like a winner...

    1. hi judi
      i have heaps of cookbooks too. i try to make at least one recipe from all of them. and i have made many from her books!

  6. Oh wow, that looks mouth watering good

    1. thanks anne, and yes it was pretty and delicious.

  7. I love Nigella and watch her cooking shows wheneverI can and have made several of her cakes. Though I rarely eat cake these days yours looks delicious 💙

    1. I have made many of her cakes! and a lot of her other recipes. i was surprised when a blogger friend said there had been a website which outlined all the mistakes in her recipes! i've never found any mistakes.

  8. I love Nigella, and can’t imagine her dull or uppity! And what a life. She lost her mother, sister, and first husband, father of her children, to cancer. The second marriage ended in awful divorce. I hope she keeps writing and talking and enjoying her life now.

    1. hi mimi
      yep i love her too. but she was sadly quite dull 'in concert'. and yes she has had a tough life. i think she always comes up trumps tho, happily.

  9. No to the chocolate + PB combination!? Well, I'll say, Mr. P. I personally love the salty and sweet mixture in desserts, and I know the remaining bit of this cake wouldn't have lasted had I been in the house! Excellent recipe, my friend. I love the peanuts up top...and also the fact that you say "Whack your oven on..." (That might be an Aussie term, but it made me laugh.)

    1. so whack means something else for you i take it? te hee. here it just means turn it on, or put something somewhere, or it can mean giving someone a good slap too!

  10. And did Mr. P. like the cake? It's funny what you learn about a spouse just when you think you know everything. 30 years into their marriage my father admitted to my mother that he didn't really enjoy baked potatoes...and she had been making them for him unknowingly for all those years.

    1. he did indeed eat the cake:) Who doesn't like baked potatoes? Oh my! these men are odd. and i say that in the nicest possible way.

  11. No PB and chocolate together? That's amzing! I lvoe the combo but it is rich and I guess it isn't for everyone. This cake looks fantastic and I'm not surprised that it disappeared so quickly.

    1. he's a funny fella my hubby. surprisingly this cake isn't rich at all but light and the icing is quite light too. it doesn't even have that much of a PB flavour, just a hint of it.

  12. Yes, I did just dip a piece of dark chocolate in peanut butter for my morning snack. Yes, I did. So I know I will love this cake - the combination is amazing! Thanks, Sherry!

    1. ooh that's funny david. i'd never thought of doing that ... mmm

  13. I am a fan of sweet and salty but have never tried chocolate with peanut butter in a cake. and I really love the use of peanut topping.

    1. hi Balvinder
      this is a lovely sweet and savoury combo. worth a try!

  14. I'm kind of in love with this cake. It's so dark and rich looking. I do love Nigella, too, and I think she's down to earth (as much as a beautiful, rich, well-connected cook can be). :) I also always smile at her recipe instructions like "a handful of nuts" or, from a recipe I made once from her: "bung" it in a pan.


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