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Let’s face it – it was only a matter of time before it happened. The candy bar bug has bit me again. After the success of my two previous candy bar cakes (Kit Kat Cake and Twix Cake, anyone?), I just KNEW that I had to keep the streak going. Since I’ve been visiting family in Houston, and my chocolate peanut butter chip cookies were such a hit with them during my last visit, making a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup inspired cake seemed like an obvious choice. Plus, when you have a state-of-the-art kitchen at your disposal, it’s a great excuse to be ambitious. While, I am not the biggest fan of peanut butter, even I have to acknowledge that something magical happens when chocolate and peanut butter combine. So, I went to work on making Reese’s cake.
I went through a few ideas in my head for how to go about making this cake. After all, one must find the perfect balance of chocolate and peanut butter, if you don’t want to be overwhelmed. I finally decided on making a chocolate cake with peanut butter cheesecake in the middle. And, because this is a Reese’s cake, I added some chopped peanut butter cups in the cheesecake batter.
As usual, you’ll want to make your cheesecake first. It needs to be completely cool and firm before you attempt to assemble your cake. I recommend making it a day ahead, but you can make it the same day and just pop it in the freezer to cool and firm quickly.
Start with cream cheese and sugar. Cream it until you get a smooth mixture, then add the peanut butter and beat until smooth. Add your eggs, one at a time, then beat until combined. Add a some vanilla extract, and then fold in some chopped mini peanut butter cups. I use the extra small ones, since they are easier to chop.
Pour the cheesecake into a greased springform pan with the bottom wrapped tightly in foil. Bake in a water bath for about half an hour, or until the cheesecake is only slightly wobbly in the center. Let the cheesecake cool completely, and then store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.
This goes without saying, but your chocolate cake layers should be baked in pans that are the same size as the cheesecake pan. Use your favorite chocolate cake recipe, but I highly recommend this One Bowl Chocolate Cake recipe. It’s easy, moist, and fantastic.
I used chocolate frosting for the outside of the cake. Feel free to use peanut butter icing, if you prefer. I liked this chocolate icing because it’s not too sweet, so it balances out the richness of the rest of the cake. You start by making a chocolate custard, then blending this custard into some creamed butter. Then, melt some semisweet chocolate and mix it into the custard/butter mixture, and add vanilla extract to taste.
To assemble the cake, make some chocolate peanut butter ganache (or plain chocolate, if you prefer) and allow it to cool slightly. Place one of your layers of cake on a cake board and spread a thin layer of ganache over the top. Remove the cheesecake from the pan and place it over the ganache-covered cake layer. Spread a thin layer of ganache over the top of the cheesecake, and then top with the second cake layer. Spread the remaining chocolate ganache over the top of the cake. Let it set in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, and then remove from the refrigerator and spread your frosting on the outside of the cake.
At this point, you’re pretty much done. But, no one will know what type of cake it is without some type of embellishment, don’t you think?
You see what a bunch of strategically placed mini peanut butter cups can do?
And, when you cut into it, try to keep from patting yourself on the back. I strongly advise you to use a hot knife to keep your cuts clean, or use fishing wire. Check out those chunks of peanut butter cup in the cross sections! The combination of rich chocolate cake and creamy peanut butter cheesecake is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Make sure you have plenty of milk on hand. This cake is best served a day after it’s made.
I must thank my family again for letting me take over their kitchen to make this Reese’s cake. It’s a long process, but worth the effort. Hope you all enjoy it!
For the Cheesecake
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup mini peanut butter cups, chopped
For the Frosting (adapted from Our Best Bites)
- 1 cup milk
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache (adapted from Food.com)
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ tbsp coffee liqueur (optional)
1 recipe 2-layer chocolate cake (recommended: One Bowl Chocolate Cake)
1 cup mini peanut butter cups, chopped
Additional mini peanut butter cups for garnish
Make the cheesecake
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease an 8 inch round springform pan, and wrap the bottom tightly with foil.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat until blended and no streaks remain. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and blend well.
Fold in the chopped peanut butter cups and pour into your prepared springform pan. Bake in a hot water bath for 30 minutes, or until center only slightly wobbly. Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate or freeze until firm.
Make the cake
Bake the cake according to the recipe directions, making sure that you use pans that are the same size as your springform pan.
Allow cake to cool completely, then remove from pan and level the rounds to flatten the tops.
Make the frosting
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, flour, and cocoa powder. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream your butter until smooth. Add the chocolate custard mixture and beat until well-blended. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and creamy.
Make the ganache
Combine all your ingredients (except the liqueur) in a heat proof bowl. Melt by microwaving in 20-second intervals, stirring well after each interval, until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the coffee liqueur, if using. Allow to cool slightly before assembling the cake.
Assemble the cake
Place one layer of cake on a plate or cake circle. Spread a thin layer of ganache over the cake, and then remove cheesecake from pan and place on top of the cake. Spread a thin layer of ganache over the top of the cheesecake and then place the second layer of cake on top. Pour the remaining ganache over the top of the cake and spread evenly across the top of the cake, being careful not to let it go over the sides. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes, or until ganache firms up.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and frost the sides of the cake with chocolate frosting. Press the chopped peanut butter cups into the sides of frosted cake, and then line the top edge of the cake with whole mini peanut butter cups. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.