A big chocolate sheet cake is one of the friendliest desserts I know: it’s unpretentious, easy to transport, feeds a crowd, and most people find it hard to turn down. What takes this particular one over the top though? Crowning it with a light-as-air honey-peanut butter frosting and a sprinkling of honey-roasted peanuts.
Peanuts and Honey: A Match Made in Heaven
Honey and peanuts are a natural pairing, with the sweet floral flavors of honey balancing out the intense savoriness of peanuts. Both the Skippy and Jif brands make natural, ultra-smooth honey peanut butters that are wonderful.
If you can’t find honey peanut butter, use unsweetened peanut butter and beat a few tablespoons of honey into the frosting with everything else instead. Just look for the smoothest peanut butter you can find so that you end up with a fluffy, dreamy frosting.
Chocolate Cake with Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes 1 (9×13-inch) cake, 12 to 15 servings
- For the cake:
- Cooking spray or butter
- 3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup whole or 2% milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- For the frosting:
- 1 (15-ounce) jar smooth Skippy or Jif honey peanut butter (about 1 1/2 cups), at room temperature
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 to 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
Make the cake:
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 325°F. Generously coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter; set aside.
Place the cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Add the boiling water and whisk until smooth; set aside.
Place the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whisk to combine. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the cocoa mixture and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute more. The batter will be thin. Transfer the batter to the baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the baking dish and bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes more. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool until warm to the touch, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the frosting.
Make the frosting:
Place the honey peanut butter, butter, and powdered sugar in a clean and dry stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
Spread the frosting onto the barely warm cake and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts if using. Let cool completely, 30 minutes to 1 hour more. Cut into squares and serve.