Diner Dream Cake

You’re here! Thank you for not forgetting about me completely while I wasn’t able to post for the past few weeks. I promise it won’t be like that forever, but I have to admit while I work on the book it’s been more difficult for me to post often. (It will be worth it!) It could also have something to do with my crazy side, and how many times I make a recipe before I’m happy with it and ready to share. Either way, I’m here now and I’m so pleased you are too. xo

So let’s talk about Diner Dream Cake. (And my need to give include superfluous adjectives in my cake titles?) I call it that because after I made it to satisfy my recent craving for diner-ish flavours — things like chocolate chips, peanut butter, vanilla and whipped cream. After I assembled the cake I realized that it actually did look like something you’d find in a little hidden gem of a diner (I think it was the cherry on top that did it).

It’s a super simple cake to make, which is always a plus, and I love the way these flavours came together: moist chocolate chip buttermilk cake filled with a fluffy peanut butter mousse and then frosted in a quick and easy vanilla bean whipped cream frosting. It was looking rather . . . vanilla, so I crushed up some roasted peanuts and tossed them with turbinado sugar and a bit of pink sanding sugar and coated the cake — it always tastes so good to me when things are super fluffy and then there’s a hit of crunch in there. (Yep, I was the one kid who always ordered those little peanuts on my McDonald’s sundaes.)

I assembled this final cake moments before the sun was out and ready for me to photograph it in the short time I had with the right natural light, so you can see that perfect slices only happen when cake is chilled ahead of time, and that I don’t have cake-cutting super powers unless the cake is set. But isn’t it true that the messiest cakes are the best tasting? Soft, fluffy, fall-apart cakes are the ultimate to eat.

And I don’t know, I haven’t made a lot of chocolate chip cakes yet, but I realized that simply tossing premium chocolate chips into vanilla cake batter really is what makes a cake “chocolate chip cake,” so if you have a favourite vanilla cake recipe, you could always use that and toss in the chips and go from there.

The peanut butter mousse filling is a cream cheese based filling with peanut butter, icing sugar, whipped cream and vanilla — a simple mix, whip, mix and it’s done. When I spotted it on Serious Eats I knew it would be the perfect peanut butter filling — there’s something about cream cheese and peanut butter that is so magical and reminds of peanut butter pie. The vanilla bean whipped cream frosting I did this time is just a simple whip of whipped cream, icing sugar and vanilla bean paste. It takes 2 minutes to make, and if you whip it until firm peaks form (just don’t overdo it until it appears dry and spongy), you can pipe a border and frost the cake with ease.

You definitely don’t have to coat the cake in peanuts and sugar to make it a tasty cake, but who wants to pass up a chance to, literally, through handfuls of sugar and peanuts at your cake? Plus I love that the sugar creates this subtle sparkle on a cake you wouldn’t expect to find sparkle . . .

I hope you’re all having an amazing summer so far. With the sugar storm in my kitchen for the past few months, the time has been going by alarmingly quickly. So much so that it just dawned on me that next Tuesday I’m turning thirty nine. As in years old. As in next year I’m, you know, the number that comes after thirty nine. I’m not one to worry about age, but I have to admit that number frightens me. But hey, a birthday is a birthday, and where there is a birthday there is celebration. And where there is celebration there is confetti. And where there is confetti, you know there’s going to be cake. And around cake is no place to be anything but happy. ♥

Diner Dream Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 6-inch round cake or one 2-layer, 8-inch round cake

Three layers of moist chocolate chip buttermilk cake filled with peanut butter mousse, smothered in vanilla bean whipped cream frosting and coated with sugar & peanuts. With a cherry on top!

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Chip Cake:
  • 5 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1-1/3 (320 ml) cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract OR Princess Bakery Emulsion
  • 2-3/4 cups (317 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-3/4 cups (350 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (18 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 10 tablespoons (130 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 20 even pieces
  • 3/4 cup (130 g) quality semisweet chocolate chips
  • For the Peanut Butter Mousse:
  • 1 package (250 g brick) cream cheese, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup (125 g) icing sugar (confectioners')
  • 3/4 cup (130 g) smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) whipping cream (35% fat)
  • For the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Frosting:
  • 2 cups (480 ml) whipping cream (35% fat)
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) icing sugar (confectioners')
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Peanut Sugar Coating:
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) roasted peanuts, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) turbinado sugar
  • Few tablespoons of pink sanding sugar, optional
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Chip Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom of three 7-inch round cake pans (or two 8-inch round or 9-inch round pans) and line bottoms with parchment rounds.
  2. In a medium measuring cup with a spout, lightly whisk the egg whites and yolk. In a separate measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and vanilla.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With the mixer set to low speed, add the cold butter one piece at a time, about 10 seconds apart. (You can keep half in the fridge while you add the first half of butter.) Continue mixing on low speed until all of the butter has been blended and there are no clumps. Mixture should have a fine crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.
  4. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture to these dry ingredients, and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the egg mixture; once the mixture has been added, increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute, but no more.
  5. Toss the chocolate chips with a few pinches of cake flour and gently fold into batter.
  6. Divide batter evenly among the 3 prepared pans (use a kitchen scale to ensure 3 even layers--cakes should weight ~450 g each). Place two of the cake pans on a baking sheet and bake until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs but no batter, about 23 minutes. Repeat with the final layer. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then loosen sides with thin metal spatula or knife, and carefully turn out onto wire racks, peel of the paper liners, and let cool completely.
  7. For the Peanut Butter Mousse:
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the cream cheese, icing sugar, peanut butter and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to another bowl (unless you're lucky enough to have another mixer bowl). Wash and dry both bowl and whisk attachment and chill in the freezer or refrigerator.
  9. Fit the mixer with the chilled bowl and whisk and whip the cream on medium high speed until firm peaks form (but not clumpy), about 1 minute. Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture and cover and chill until ready to use.
  10. For the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Frosting:
  11. Chill your mixer bowl and whisk in freezer for 5 minutes, then whip the cream, icing sugar and salt on medium high speed until firm peaks form (but not clumpy). Add vanilla bean paste and mix on low speed until incorporated. Best used right away.
  12. Assembly of the Cake:
  13. I recommend making the filling while the cakes are in the oven, and then chilling until the cakes are cool. Once cakes are cool and you have filled them with the peanut butter filling, make the whipped cream frosting (it only takes a couple of minutes to make).
  14. Trim any dark edges or crust from cake layers with a very sharp serrated knife. Place your first cake layer, face-up, onto a cake stand, plate or cake board. Place half of the peanut butter filling on top of the layer and spread evenly using a small offset spatula.
  15. Repeat until you come to your final cake layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume. Use your clean offset spatula to carefully smooth the frosting so it's flat against the cake.
  16. an even layer of frosting to the entire cake, to seal in crumbs. Chill again until frosting is firm, about 30 minutes.
  17. Place cake plate/board with cake onto a turntable, if possible. Using an offset spatula, spread the whipped cream frosting on the top of the cake, letting it extend about 1/2" over the edge, then smooth excess onto side of cake. With a medium straight spatula, cover the sides of the cake until you have a smooth even coat of frosting by slowly turning the cake turntable with one hand while holding the spatula steady with the other. Use your small offset spatula to smooth top of cake. Place remaining whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a large closed star tip (I used #887) and pipe a border around the top perimeter for the cake. Chill for 30 minutes.
  18. In a medium ziploc bag, combine the peanuts and sugar. Remove cake from fridge put back onto turntable. Place turntable and cake onto a baking sheet (for ease of clean-up), and gently coat the sides of the cake with the sugar mixture. (You may have to "throw" it at the cake!) Top with a maraschino cherry.
  19. Keep cake refrigerated for up to 2 days, but serve at room temperature. Best enjoyed day 1.
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http://sweetapolita.com/2013/07/diner-dream-cake/

[peanut butter mousse filling adapted from Serious Eats]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • The recipe is for a three layer, 6-inch round cake, but the one in the photo is an 8-inch round. If you want to make a three layer, 8-inch round cake, you can increase the cake recipe by half (rather than doubling the recipe). You can keep the filling and frosting recipes the same.
  • You can make the cake layers up to 1 day ahead, but keep them wrapped tightly and at room temperature. I do, though, recommend making them the morning you need the cake, if possible.
  • You can make the peanut butter filling one day ahead, but keep refrigerated.
  • The whipped cream frosting is best made right before you need it.
  • For the frosting, I used Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste – a quick and easy way to get that real vanilla bean taste and those awesome little black vanilla flecky things we all love.
  • For all of my cake decorating, I use a cake turntable–it’s definitely a must-have. I have a homemade version, but have recently started using the Ateco Revolving Cake Stand, and I love it.
  • I always use a Small Offset Spatula and Medium Straight Spatula when frosting a cake.
Good luck & enjoy!
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Comments

  1. Kali says

    I too love the crunch and ordered the peanuts on sundaes. I’m glad I’m not alone! This looks so great!

  2. Alex says

    39?? Seriously??? I sincerely think you look like you’re in your 20′s!!
    Maybe the Sweetapolita Diet (cake + icing + sprinkles) is the next big thing!

  3. melinda says

    I am in love, it is so pretty I think I will have to make it! Your recipes always are a winner. Thanks for the great recipes and site. Have a great sugar covered day :)

  4. says

    Great recipe as usuallll <3 but one question please !! in step 2 you wrote break up the eggs and the yolk so i didn't get it do we use the egg whites plus the whole egg or the egg yolks plus the whole egg ??

    Thanks :) <3

  5. jennifer says

    This cake looks amazing as do all of your other goodies:) I cant wait to make it!! I understand your fear of turning 39…I remember it well,my 40′s were great though !Im 49 turning 50 this year and that is REALLY SCARY!! Im just trying to keep my state of mind young and look to people that are preserving well and pray that i will too!

  6. aysh says

    Happy early Bday Rosie! May this next year be fabulous and full of cake! You should be proud of all that you have accomplished! Amazing blog, a book deal and a lovely family :). I could only hope to be half the baker you are!

  7. Sara says

    Rosie it’s just so beautiful.
    I love the little bit of pink sugar, how do you think of these things, it just takes it to the next level. Amazing.
    I would just like to ask, will we be able to buy your book in the UK?
    Sara xxx

  8. Angelina says

    I’ve been checking your website every day the past few weeks and must I say, this was totally worth it! Gorgeous, Rosie! Can’t wait for your sure-to-be-brilliant cookbook! xoxo

  9. says

    Hhi Rosie,
    I have been baking using a lot of your recipes with much success. Just today I made your sugar cookies. Yum! Cannot wait for your book. Can we pre order it?

    • says

      Thank you, Asmita! It’s not ready yet, as I’m still in the writing/creating phase, but I’ll share all book details as I go on the blog. I’m so pleased you’re excited about the book!

  10. says

    This cake is SO gorgeous! I love that you coated it with sugar and peanut crumbs. I never would have thought to add the sugar to make it sparkle! Chocolate chips and peanut butter mousse sound like the perfect combination! Love that cherry on top, too. :)

  11. Erica says

    Don’t sweat the age thing, especially not when life is so great (as I am sure you’d agree that it is!)

    I love your cakes and I can’t wait to buy your book :)

  12. Claire says

    Rosie I LOVE every recipe I’ve ever made off of your website, and I can’t wait for the book! I was wondering if this cake recipe can be adapted to a cupcake recipe (like the campfire delight)? Thanks!

  13. Cheri Kelly says

    I was so happy to see you newest creation. I really love it when a new post comes out. I am so anxious to see your cookbook and will surely purchase copies for all my baking friends. I’ve baked so many of your cakes, all were so good. I’ve now adopted the flavorings you have recommended and used the Butter Vanilla in my chocolate chip cookie recipe. People loved them!! Thanks Rosie, you are a bright spot in my days.

  14. says

    Oh. My. WORD. I need to make this. I don’t know for who, or what, but I just need to make it. Just because it’s FRIDAY?!? YES! This looks and sounds absolutely LOVELY!!! And the peanutty crunch, I always had it on the sides of my cakes as a child and I LOVED IT! Nothing better! Amazing as always!

  15. Becca Porter says

    I definitely needed 3 8-inch pans for this recipe, two would have way overflowed.

    Also, even though I do a ton of baking, and follow your recipes precisely, I find that my batter always curdles when I make your cakes. Ideas? It doesn’t seem to really affect the look or taste, but I worry.

  16. says

    I absolutely love this cake idea. I am totally making it one day. I love your blog. I put you on my blogroll when I first started blogging. You really inspire me to be a better baker. Good luck with the book release!

  17. Julia Estrada says

    Rosie, your cakes continue to be a source of inspiration to me. Every friend has a favorite birthday cake that I make, and when anyone asks for my recipe I redirect them here immediately. I like the surprise inside on this one! Cannot wait for your cookbook :)

    -Julia

  18. Linda says

    I just found you! What a gorgeous cake. It is now on my immediate “To Do” list.

    By the way, don’t sweat the big 4-0! It’s different no doubt………but it only gets better! You have so much ahead to experience! Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Happy Birthday.

  19. Karen says

    I liked you on Facebook. I’m just seeing your blog for the first time. So many fabulous ideas! I’m inspired.

  20. Landy says

    Okay so I read this late and I think I may have missed the part about when your birthday is…so happy belated birthday! I think. Anyway, I love your blog! I found you through my other inspiration The Whisk Kid – Love her! You have such talent.

    As for next year…it’s not a big deal…honest! I turned the big 4-0 last month, had over 50 guest at my new house and baked my own cake. A complicated Pina Colada cake that I do every year because I just can’t bring myself to NOT have this cake! Its my standard. Enjoy this last year as 30 something. It’s fun but forty is great!

  21. Marissa K. says

    Your cakes always come out so gorgeous that I was wondering what oven you have. Mine is stupid and I’m looking to upgrade, so any advice would be very much appreciated!

  22. Jill says

    Just made the cake and it was delicious! However all the chocolate chips sunk to the bottom during baking. Any tips on how to keep them throughout the cake and not in a layer at the bottom ( or top when you flip the cake out of the pan)?

  23. Alice says

    So question… the turbinado sugar scares me because I don’t always like that “crunch” it adds. Could I make it without the sugar or does the sugar add a nice touch… aha :)

  24. Ethel says

    Happy belated birthday to someone who makes me feel like I may one day use a fondant work mat! I made your ruffled chocolate cake for the first birthdays of my two girls, and I hope one day they will continue the tradition. Now I can just give them a copy of your book of recipes!

  25. Inés says

    Hi Rosie, I’m loving every bit of your blog. Just wanted to ask you is there anything else I could use instead of buttermilk? I’m from Colombia and we don’t have it in here. Thanks in advance ;)

  26. says

    I made this today for a friend! I had a hard time figuring out how to get the crushed nuts on the side of the cake without making a total disaster of my house, but it was delicious AND beautiful thanks to my new best friend, the turn table :)

  27. Eugenia says

    I made this divine cake for my daughter’s birthday yesterday. As with all your recipes it worked out perfectly even though I doubled the recipe and baked it in one 30cm pan!! All that was necessary was an increase in time spent in the oven. It looked stunning and tasted brilliant, I’m still receiving compliments today! It looks like this will be one of the layer’s in my son’s wedding cake later on this year. Thank you for all the inspiration and pleasure you give me. Your recipes are so easy to follow . Please put my name done for your book!

  28. Eugenia says

    I made this divine cake for my daughter’s birthday yesterday. As with all your recipes it worked out perfectly even though I doubled the recipe and baked it in one 30cm pan!! All that was necessary was an increase in time spent in the oven. It looked stunning and tasted brilliant, I’m still receiving compliments today! It looks like this will be one of the layer’s in my son’s wedding cake later on this year. Thank you for all the inspiration and pleasure you give me. Your recipes are so easy to follow . I will definitely be buying your book.

  29. Kt says

    I think this cake looks amazing but I’m just not a fan of peanut butter (sorry to offend all the PB die hards)! Does anyone know if Nutella could be swapped in? Or know if I should try a 1:1 swap? I’m thinking slightly less Nutella.
    I might just give it a bash but thoughts would be appreciated.
    Kt. X

  30. Anitalouisa says

    I made the two layer one of this last Saturday and although mine didn’t end up looking like Rosie’s one (I have no talent at frosting or sticking peanuts to the sides of cakes apparently!!) it was absolutely scrummy. My 89 year old great aunt has been sick for the last few months and been off her food, but she devoured two healthy slices of this! Thanks Rosie!

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