Red Panda Cake: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with [Chocolate] Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing

It’s Bea’s 9th! To celebrate, we created this Red Panda Cake! It’s a Chocolate Peanut Butter Lover’s Dream!!!

RED PANDA CAKE
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
makes 2 9-inch layers or the 4 shapes required for a red panda cake

Ingredients
2 c all-purpose flour
.75 c unsweetened cocoa powder [preferably dutch processed]
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk [or sour milk]
.5 c vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tbs vanilla extract
.3 c smooth peanut butter [we use no name 25% less sugar]
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Baking Pans
2 9-in pans
OR
1 11-in round baking pan
1 6-in heart-shaped or round baking pan
2 disposable aluminum pot-pie pans or 2 rounds of a cupcake tin

Method

Preheat the oven to 350° F.
If you are using them, mold the 2 disposable aluminum pot-pie pans into triangular ear shapes, raising the edges of the pans up [think of it as lifting up a collar] so that they will be as tall as your other pans and hold more batter.
Spray each baking pan with baking spray.
Line the bottoms of each pan with parchment paper cut to size.
[Trace around the bottoms of the pan with a pencil to create a guide.]
Spray the tops of the parchment with a bit of baking spray.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder into the bowl of an electric mixer using a sifter or a wire-mesh strainer.
Add salt and sugar to the bowl, and with the mixer set to low speed, beat for 30 seconds or so until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.
With the mixer set to low, add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and blend until just combined.
Place the peanut buter in a large measuring cup and pour coffee over top.
Whisk tihs mixture until the peanut butter is melted and fully blended with the coffee.
Beat the coffee & peanut butter mixture into the cake batter until fully incorporated.
You will have about 6 generous cups of batter when completed.
Pour about 3-3.5 cups of batter into the largest pan, 1-2 cups of batter into the smaller pan, and less than 1 cup of batter into each of the small tins for the ears.
Look to see that the level of batter is even in each of the pans. Adjust accordingly.
Set the filled pans in the middle rack of your oven.
Bake cakes for a total of about 30 minutes, until a butter knife inserted into the centres of the cakes comes out clean.
[Today, our smaller cakes took 28 minutes, and our larger cake took 32 minutes.]
Cool the cakes in their pans on top of wire racks for at least 30 minutes.
Then, invert the cakes on the wire racks, remove the parchment circles, and cool completely.
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[Chocolate] Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing
Makes about 4.25 cups

Ingredients
1.25 c light cream cheese
.5 c butter
5 c icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c smooth peanut butter [we used no-name with 25% less-sugar]
[5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted & 3 tbs coffee]

Method
In a mixer, blend the cream cheese and the butter.
Add the vanilla and the peanut butter and combine until fluffy.
Scrape sides of bowl occasionally.
Slowly add the icing sugar until well combined.
[For the chocolate version, add the melted chocolate and coffee and stir.]
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RED PANDA CAKE CONSTRUCTION

Additional Needs
Gel icing colours: Copper, Red, Black, White-White [Optional]
1 mini peanut butter cup
2 chocolate covered nuts
Black Licorice Laces
[or a tube of black pre-made icing or Chocolate peanut butter cream cheese icing placed in a piping bag]
A picture of a favourite red panda face to use as a guide.

Prepare 1 recipe of Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
Divide the Batch into 1 small bowl (about .5 c) and 3 larger bowls (about 1.25 c each)
To the smaller bowl, add copper icing gel
Leave one large bowl of icing beige or add white-white icing drops to brighten it a bit
Add Copper, Red and Black Icing Gel to achieve a reddish brown colour in another large bowl.
To the final large bowl, add 2 oz melted bittersweet chocolate and 1 tbs coffee and combine well, adding an additional dot or two of black icing gel if so desired.

Remove the parchment from the cake bottoms and trim the tops of the cakes if so desired.
Lay the large cake trimmed side down on a large serving platter.
Using the heart- (or small circle) shaped parchment you removed from the small cake as a guide or outline,
spread the chocolate flavoured icing in an upside-down heart-shape towards the centre bottom of the of the 11 in cake.
Place the smaller heart (or circle) cake trimmed side down upon the icing.
Use chocolate flavoured icing to attach the ears, trimmed sides down, at the 2 and 10 o’clock points on the 11 in cake.
Use the icings to decorate the cake as you please:
It may seem counter-productive, but I began with the white icing and the copper icings as highlight colours, adding the darker reddish-brown colour afterwards.
I placed the peanut butter cup as a nose and the chocolate covered nuts as eyes about half-way through the icing process in order to use them as guides for further icing and decoration.
Finish by icing the outside edges or sides of the cake with the chocolate flavoured icing.
Cut a few lengths of thin black licorice laces to use as whiskers.

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Celebrate, Slice and Enjoy!!!
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