This is a cake I invented for the birthday of a very dear friend. She is a fan of all things chocolate, bacon, and brazen, so I thought this cake would be a festive way to celebrate her birthday. And I must say, I really outdid myself with this one. Despite the obvious decadence of the exterior, I think this recipe, which is an adaptation of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake from Smitten Kitchen, produced one of the most moist and delicious cakes I have ever tasted. Additionally, people went ape shit over this frosting, and I owe it all to the bananas. They helped lighten the intensity of all that chocolate, peanut butter, and bacon.
It is called “Elvis goes to Ohio” because, in the world of American diner food, an “Elvis” is a combination of banana-peanut butter-and bacon. These were allegedly the ingredients in the King’s favorite sandwich.
The “Ohio” part comes from the candy buckeyes on top. For those of you who are not from Columbus, Ohio… a buckeye is the nut produced by our state tree and mascot of the Ohio State University. At some point in the history of our great state, some hungry genius realized that buckeyes look like chocolate covered peanut butter balls. Brilliant, right? I obviously made these to decorate a cake, but they are usually just served as little candies on a plate. Serve them to the delight of peanut butter fans at your next gathering.
Hokay, here’s the cake.
Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake
Makes an 9-inch double-layer cake.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup neutral oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of 2 9-inch round cakepans with tinfoil so the edges reach over the sides of the pan (the tinfoil will allow you to remove the cake from the pan with minimal damage.) Grease the entire interior of the pan and foil.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 2 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert first layer onto your cake plate and place the other on a cooling rack. (Note from Smitten Kitchen: “These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.”)
4. Before frosting your cake, level the bottom layer. I usually just take a large bread knife and thinly slice the rounded top until there is a relatively flat surface. Now, place a happy amount of frosting on the top of the bottom layer. You’re probably going to get some crumbs in this layer, which is fine by me, but if you’re like a cleaner look: apply a thin layer of frosting with crumbs, refrigerate the bottom layer, and then apply a thicker layer of frosting on top. You can use this technique for any “crumbly” parts of the cake.
5.Place your second cake layer on top (with the flat side on the bottom.) Now cover that shit in frosting. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes before adding additional toppings.
Peanut-Butter Banana Cream-Cheese Frosting
- 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each cup. This part can get messy. So proceed with caution. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the peanut butter and bananas. Beat until thoroughly blended.
- 1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 10 TBSP butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 12 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1. In a mixer, beat together peanut butter, cream cheese, salt, and butter until completely mixed. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar (once again, caution, this part is messy.)
2. Cover a cookie sheet with tinfoil. Roll your peanut-butter, butter, powdered sugar mixture in to balls. Your average candy buckeye is between 0.5” and 0.75” diameter. I usually make mine on the bigger side (cause… duh,) but feel free to go as big or as small as you deem delicious.
3. Place each peanut butter ball on the cookie sheet with a toothpick sticking out on the top. Place these in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
4. While your peanut butter balls are freezing, melt your chocolate. I vary my melting method depending on the kind of chocolate. Most milk chocolates or chocolate chips will melt easily in the microwave, but if you want a fool proof method, use a double boiler. You can buy a “double boiler,” but it’s a really dumb purchase because all you really need is a medium sized pot and a slightly larger bowl. Fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil. Place your chocolate in the bowl and place it on top of the pot. Stir the chocolate frequently and make sure the water does not start boiling too ferociously. When the chocolate is melted through, move it to a bowl or coffee cup suitable for dipping.
5. Remove your peanut butter balls from the freezer. Using the toothpick, dip each peanut butter ball into the chocolate. Do not submerge it into the chocolate completely. Leave a round area of peanut butter exposed at the top so it still resembles a buckeye nut. Place the buckeye back on your cookie sheet with the toothpick left in. The chocolate will start to harden around the frozen peanut butter, but when your done dipping, place the entire cookie sheet in the fridge.
6. When the chocolate has completely hardened, remove the tooth picks and smooth the peanut butter over the exposed hole.
7. Use them to adorn your cake or eat them by themselves! The vegetarian or faint of heart can stop here, but if you wish to take this cake to the extreme… move on to the bacon…
- brown sugar
- maple syrup
I didn’t include any ingredient proportions here cause it really doesn’t matter and it also depends on how much bacon you want to use. I used about half a pound to cover this whole cake.
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat up your maple syrup in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, place a heaping portion of brown sugar.
2. Dip or brush each piece of bacon with maple syrup. When it’s sufficiently sweet and sticky, move the bacon into the brown sugar and rubbbbb that sugar in. Make sure you coat both sides.
3. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Place a wire rack on the cookie sheet. Place peace piece of bacon on the wire rack. Don’t overlap them unless you want one giant piece of sugar bacon (granted, that would be awesome.)
4. Bake bacon until dark golden brown, turning once, about 8 minutes per side. Using tongs, wrap your bacon around the sides of the cake. You can wait a little while for the bacon to cool, but don’t wait too long because you won’t be able to shape your bacon around the cake. If you have any extra, crumble it up and sprinkle it atop the cake!