When Decadence meets Elegance

There are very few who will say no to a peanut butter/chocolate combination (I’ve stressed the draw of this “super couple” a number of times on this site). That being said, I can’t quite say there’s been a cake as dangerously addictive as this one – the perfect balance of a rich, dark chocolate cake with a light, heavenly peanut butter frosting. I had volunteered (again) to be the baker for our office’s January birthdays celebration – it’s a busy time of year, so I wanted to bring in an extra-special treat. This Dark Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache DEFINITELY was just that.
There is dark chocolate, then there is this cake – I decided to give Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa a shot for this cake. The result was a cake that was nearly black. It was a rich cake, no doubt, but my fear that the chocolate flavor would be WAY too intense was unfounded. I’ve discovered that chocolate cakes made with boiling water = amazing. Though it makes the batter appear more like chocolate soup, its function is helping dissolve the cocoa butter fats into the batter, resulting in a smooth, rich finish. It also means that the cakes will be that much more difficult to remove from your pans, so be prepared with parchment (or grease and flour the pan).
The frosting was the winner of this cake – despite having nearly 3 cups of peanut butter, the result was a “light, airy” frosting with just the right amount of sweet and salty. In fact, it might just be one of the best frostings I’ve made yet. I had originally thought about decorating it with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but chose to make my own chocolate-peanut butter ganache – people were practically licking this stuff off their plates (it was also a gorgeous alternative). All-in-all, this was a fabulous cake that had all the right elements. I highly recommend making this…asap – click HERE to see the recipe for this showstopping dessert.
To complement the “darkness” of this cake, I thought a piece that has a bit of a dark side would be appropriate. At the same time, it needed to be a work with a certain elegance to mimic the balance of this beautiful cake. This led me to the Czech composer ‪Leoš Janáček‬, whose music is known for both its volatilities and subtleties. The piece I felt would be perfect for this pairing is his String Quartet No. 1. Composed when ‪Janáček‬ was 69, the piece is based on Tolstoy’s novella, “The Kreuzter Sonata” – a dramatic tale of marital distrust, fury and ultimate despair. The piece itself is highly evocative, filled with powerful harmonies that are countered by delicate refrains; a beautiful balance. The recording below is with the Alban Berg Quartet – enjoy!


Sources Cited:
“Janáček, String Quartet No. 1, ‘Kreutzer Sonata,’” Earsense Blog

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