Mmmm…peanut butter and chocolate
Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful. Like Romeo and Juliet, peanut butter and chocolate just belong together. So, this recipe has something going for it from the start. But these two perfectly paired ingredients aren’t the only reason for sharing it with you. I can’t think of a cake that is quicker and easier to make. I doubt that a cake mix will come together more quickly. And once you’ve made it and it’s cooled, it’s ready to serve; no frosting is needed. I use only one bowl in its preparation, so cleanup is minimal. It will travel with ease; just cover it and leave it in the pan until you’re ready to serve. It also freezes well if double-wrapped.
And, last but clearly not least, almost everyone likes its moist texture and satisfying taste. I haven’t heard a disparaging comment yet. It’s a casual little thing, but if you want to fancy it up, add a little vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt and/or some commercial chocolate sauce.Peanut butter and chocolate chip cakeAdjusted for altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet.Make in an 8-by-8-inch square metal pan. (Be sure to use a metal pan of the specified size; the cake may fall if baked in a larger pan.)1 cup plus 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour1 cup (packed) of golden brown sugar
12 cup of creamy peanut butter4 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temperature2 eggs at room temperature12 cup of whole milk at room temperature34 teaspoon of vanilla extract14 teaspoon of baking powder18 teaspoon of baking soda1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips, divided
Preheat the oven to 360 degrees with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line the 8-by-8-inch metal baking pan with Reynold’s Release non-stick aluminum foil or regular aluminum foil. Let the foil extend beyond the pan on two sides so that you can use it as a handle to remove the cake from the pan after it is baked. If using regular aluminum foil, grease and flour it or spray it with a vegetable oil-flour spray, making sure that the pan is evenly coated.Put the flour, brown sugar and creamy peanut butter in a large bowl. If the peanut butter has been refrigerated, warm it slightly in the microwave so it is more fluid and thus easier to measure and blend. Cut the room-temperature butter into 8 pieces and add them. With your hands or using a hand-held electric mixer on low speed, mix just until the ingredients are combined and crumbly. This will be a streusel-like topping for the cake, so don’t overmix them. Remove 12 cup of the mixture and set it aside.Add the room-temperature eggs and milk, vanilla, baking powder and baking soda to the peanut-butter mixture that remains in the bowl. Starting at low speed on your electric mixer, beat until everything is evenly moistened. Increase the speed of your mixer to medium and beat until a smooth batter is formed. This will take about three or four minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in one-half cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips.Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing and leveling it as necessary. Sprinkle the half cup of reserved streusel topping over the batter and follow it with the remaining half cup of chocolate chips. Make sure both are evenly distributed over the cake batter.Bake until the cake is set and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Start checking after the cake has been baking for about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it completely on a rack. Remove it from the pan using the aluminum foil. Serve it at room temperature or slightly warmed. Ice cream and/or store-bought chocolate sauce are both nice accompaniments.This recipe is a variation of one from the Bon Appetit Cookbook.Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Dawson with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at email@example.com