Last spring I wanted to create a new cake for a young friend. I asked him for suggestions for flavor combinations, and he thought that peanut butter and caramel would be a good combo with yellow cake. It was a great idea. This cake was the result.
It’s a yellow cake with peanut butter frosting, fresh roasted peanuts for crunch, and homemade caramel sauce. (My son tasted it and called it Cracker Jack Cake, in honor of the snack.) You can substitute purchased caramel sauce if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own.
Cracker Jack Cake
Yellow Layer Cake – two 9-inch layers (recipe below)
Peanut Butter Frosting – one batch (recipe below)
Caramel Sauce – 1 cup (recipe here)
freshly roasted peanuts, roughly chopped – 1 1/2 cups *
Assemble the cake by frosting one layer of the yellow cake with Peanut Butter Frosting. Sprinkle layer with one half of the roasted peanuts, and drizzle with one half of the caramel sauce. Top with second layer of cake. Frost the top and side of the cake with the remaining Peanut Butter Frosting. Top with the remaining roasted peanuts, and drizzle with the remaining Caramel Sauce.
* Use plain roasted peanuts, not dry roasted. Salted or unsalted is fine.
Yellow Layer Cake – adapted from the Smitten Kitchen
Yield: Two 9-inch round, layers
2 1/4 cups (10 oz) cake flour
1 1/2 cups (7 oz) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (14 oz) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans and spray with baking spray with flour.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk and flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl one more time.
Spread batter evenly in cake pans, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack, then cool completely, about 1 hour.
Peanut Butter Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (10 oz) smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups (12 oz) powdered sugar
3 TB milk or half-n-half
In a mixing bowl, beat butter with peanut butter until smooth and creamy. And salt and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. Scrape down the mixing bowl, add the vanilla and milk. Beat on low power until the frosting comes together, then on medium until it’s light and creamy.