If there’s one thing teenagers like, it’s junk food. Do you remember that from your own adolescence? I vividly recall having adventures with friends that inevitably involved food, specifically the kind that we didn’t get to eat very often with our families. We went out for ice cream, hit up fast food joints, and bought lots of treats to devour during movie marathons via the VHS.
I’d like to say that my own teens are different, and that the food choices of today’s fifteen-year-olds have evolved just like the studies on health and wellness, but that’s not the case. They love their sweet treats just like all the teens that have come before them, and despite the fact that it goes against my natural feeding instincts I enthusiastically endorse allowing them to eat it.
Here’s why: over the years I've learned that if you don't buy the kids the candy they crave they’re just going to go to someone else’s house and eat it there instead. If you want to keep them and their friends hanging around your house – and trust me, you do – then buy the cookies, or the cake, or whatever it is they’re into, and serve it with abandon. Why? Because there are way worse things teenagers could be doing than hanging out at home eating sugar-laden, crazy-making sweets.
My oldest teenager loves candy of all kinds, so including it in his birthday cake this year was a no-brainer. He requested a chocolate peanut butter combination, which I topped with a variety of confections bought at my local bulk store. The verdict? It was a total hit with the kids, but really, was there any doubt it would be?
Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Explosion Birthday Cake
For the chocolate cake:
- Butter, for greasing the baking pans
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cups cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot coffee
For the peanut butter frosting:
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 cups smooth peanut butter
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
For the decorations:
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups assorted candies
- Candles, optional
1. To make the cake: preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter paper, then dust the pans with cocoa, tapping out the extra.
2. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and stir well. Add the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla and beat with a handheld or electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add the coffee and mix to combine.
3. Divide batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the centre is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
4. To make the frosting: Place the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.
5. To assemble the cake, place one layer upside down on a cake plate or stand and mound 1/3 of the frosting over top, spreading it evenly over the surface of the cake. Place the second layer on top, also upside down, and cover the top and sides with the remaining frosting. To create the swirl effect on the icing, use the back of a soup spoon and swipe it over the icing, wiggling it as you go.
6. To decorate the cake: mound the candy in the centre of the cake and insert candles, if using.