Happy Birthday with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

square 625My baby recently turned 20! Kind of scary and yet also awesome at the same time to realize that I am no longer the parent of teenage children. I have made the exact same Chocolate Cake for him for the past 19 years. To say that he is a child that does not handle change well is putting it mildly. For the first 3 years of his life he cried every year on his birthday when we sang happy birthday to him. The more he cried, the louder his older brother and sister would sing. Whether it was to drown out his crying or antagonize him even further, I am not quite sure, but I have my suspicions!

Thankfully, for the next several years, the crying stopped but he would still get sad on his birthday. We just learned to keep things low key. Finally, on his 9th birthday he said he wanted to have a party with friends, balloons and streamers. I was thrilled and we went all out with the decorations. I even suggested that perhaps we make a special cake, maybe a train cake, or a swimming pool cake or even a rocket ship cake, like I had made for his brother and sister in past years.Train cake

swimming pool cake

rocketship cakeThose suggestions were met with a stony stare and then he informed me that he would like his regular chocolate cake with chocolate icing please. Hey, at least he said please! So as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So, I continued to make his favourite cake every year. However, as a food blogger, I have found this to be quite frustrating. I needed new material to blog about! 

When I saw this photo of Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Mousse Filling on Serious Eats, I became transfixed. I could not stop thinking about it and began having serious cravings. This looked like the consummate birthday cake for my son. He loves the combo of chocolate and peanut butter. I showed him a picture of the cake and asked if this could be his birthday cake this year. He shocked me by saying, sure!Serious Eats-peanut-butter-mousse-chocolate-cakeI adapted the original recipe in several ways. The first thing I did was double the cake recipe. This chocolate cake recipe uses both bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder. Buttermilk and coffee round out the flavours to produce a fantastic moist, rich and fudgy cake. I wanted more cake in relation to the peanut butter mousse filling.pouring coffee on chocolatebuttermilk3 bowls 2 The peanut butter mousse filling gets a bit of tang from cream cheese and then the whole thing is lightened with some whipped cream.

mousse 1whipped creamadding whipped creamfolding cream into peanut butter mixturespreading pb mousseThe original recipe called for a ganache frosting, but I swapped in my favourite Chocolate Coffee Buttercream instead. The slight bitterness of the coffee was a great counterpoint for the sweet cake.spreading buttercream The final change I made was adding a dusting of peanut praline to the outside of the cake. I liked the textural crunch it added to the final bite. Without the praline I found it was just too many smooth textures in your mouth from the mousse and the buttercream.peanut praline large

piping buttercream

putting on reeses pieces

Click here to print recipe for Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

whole cake

slice on plate

17 thoughts on “Happy Birthday with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

  1. strawberryquicksand

    Dang! I was hoping for the recipe, too. That looks amazing and I am the biggest fan ever (well probably not, but I adore it) of peanut butter and chocolate together!!! 🙂 p.s. I recognize that swimming pool cake! 🙂 Is that one you made or is that the same photo from the Women’s Weekly Kids Cakes cookbook?

  2. saltandserenity Post author

    Thanks strawberryquicksand! That is indeed the photo from the Women’s Weekly Kids Cakes Cookbook. I made the cake many years ago, but I used blue jello for the water in the swimming pool instead of green. Sadly, I did not have a photo of it anymore.

    There is a link to the recipe for the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Cake just above the second photo from the bottom of the post.

  3. coffeetablecookbook

    I am in shock, my four year old cries whenever anyone sings the happy birthday song to anyone, ever. Including himself. He has been this way since he was a baby, I’m laughing so hard that someone else on this planet had a similar affliction. Beautiful pictures, the cake looks stunning! And happy birthday to your boy!

    1. saltandserenity Post author

      Coffeetablecookbook, that is too funny. I have never heard of another child who had that reaction! Perhaps they are brothers from different mothers. Hopefully your son’s reaction will pass soon, and he too will become joyful on his birthday.

  4. themondaybox

    I LOVE your birthday cake retrospective! (That swimming pool is amazing!) I have a similar group of photos of birthday cakes from years gone by. My baby also turned twenty this year. Unable to mail a cake, I mailed cake pops. 🙂 Your cake recipe, having stood the test of time, must be a winner I will have to try!

  5. saltandserenity

    Thanks Wendy, You always leave me such great comments!
    I have yet to get into the cake pop craze, although, since I believe that icing is the best part of any cake, I would probably love them since the ratio of icing to cake is pretty high on them! Congrats/Condolences? on having no more teenagers!

  6. Sylvan Groth

    Does the cream cheese flavor come through? My husband also loves PB & chocolate. I was looking for something like this for his birthday, but he refuses anything with cream cheese. Are there other substitutions?

    1. saltandserenity Post author

      Hi Sylvan, there is a definite tang from the cream cheese, so if he is that sensitive to it, you could certainly substitute softened unsalted butter for the cream cheese in the mousse filling. Happy Birthday to hubby. Hope he enjoys it.

  7. Cathy

    What is the easiest way to get the peanut praline mixture on the sides of the cake? Should I just pick up a small amount in the palm of my hand and gently press it on?

    1. saltandserenity Post author

      Hi Cathy, What I usually do is place the cake on a cardboard cake circle, before frosting. Then, once I have put the frosting on, it is quite easy to pick up and place on my palm. I hold the cake over the sink when putting on the praline dust, to minimize mess. I do just as you suggested, pick up a small amount in the palm of my hand and gently, but firmly press it into the icing.
      If you do not have a cardboard cake circle, cut 4 thin strips of waxed paper and place them around the sides of your cake plate, before icing. Ice the cake, put on praline dust and then remove the strips of waxed paper and your cake plate will be clean.

  8. Cathy

    I made this cake for a combination Father’s Day and Birthday party clebration for one of the fathers in our group. The cake was fabulous!
    I was aware of the high sweetness level of this cake, so I decided to crush peanuts without making the praline mixture and then just press the peanuts into the side of the cake. Pressing roasted crushed peanuts into the side of the frosting really helped balance all that sweetness–sort of like the roasted peanuts on a Peanut Buster Parfait at DQ!
    I also put peanut butter chips instead of Reese’s pieces into the decorative blobs on top. Looked great and because it is such a tall cake (three layers) and had the little decorative blobs on top, several people asked, “Did you make that?”
    One thing I will do next time is to make sure the mousse is very chilled before spreading it between the layers. I will also take time to put the cake in the refrigerator sporadically while frosting it, adding the peanuts, squeezing on the decorative blobs and adding the chips. Granted, I was making this cake on a hot day in Southern Arizona and make house does have AC, but when I put the whole cake in the refrigerator on Saturday to keep it until Sunday I think the top was heavy and pushed down a little on the whole cake. It made a little of the mousse sort of push out and my cake looked like it had a tiny bit of a muffin top inbetween the second and third layers. I was probably the only one who noticed it…
    I will happily make this cake again the very same way!

  9. saltandserenity Post author

    Cathy, I love your adaptations. Good move to use crushed peanuts instead of the praline. You are correct that chilling while frosting is a good idea. I am always in too much of a rush to bother with putting on a thin layer of frosting, chilling it and then adding the final coat. So glad the cake was a hit. Did you take pictures?

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