peanut butter cookie cake

I didn’t plan on making this cake. It came into my world out of a refusal to scoop and shape balls of cookie dough. You see, I wanted to make some gifts for a couple of people in my life, and I am firmly of the mind that you cannot beat freshly baked cookies. I particularly like to gift my favourite peanut butter cookies (recipe by Heidi Swanson). They’re wholesome and easy to make, and taste really, really good.

One morning I prepped the necessary wet and dry ingredients into separate bowls, assuming I’d bake a double batch later that afternoon. It turns out I had less time than I had anticipated before we drove to our new home (!!!) to meet its previous owners (who had built it and lived there for 50 years) to talk about the home’s history and how to care for the garden, which happens to feature a thriving lemon tree, so I only got through one batch, which I presented to the lovely folk who accepted our offer. You know how I said we were saving for our own place? Well, things moved pretty quickly and we found ourselves purchasing a home that makes me feel all the warm, cozy, right and wonderful feelings in the world. I can picture myself living in this home for the rest of my life, which is unreal (in addition to my apartment in Italy, naturally)! We’re doing a little work to update the place, starting with ripping up carpet, polishing floorboards and removing wallpaper. In a couple of years we'll update the kitchen (I get to save for and design my own kitchen!!) and the ensuite bathroom. Gosh, it all feels too good to be true. We’re mostly pinching ourselves that this has happened, but I suppose we'd best stop that and get to packing, as we move next month. But back to the cookies...

The second, un-baked batch of peanut butter cookies was intended for a friend of mine, however as we arrived back from visiting our new home I checked my phone and saw that she was unable to meet me the following day. With the ingredients already prepped and a strong urge to not roll any more dough, I decided to dump the mix in a cake tin and see what happened. Before doing so I upped the raising agent, added blackened banana that was staring at me on the bench and increased the olive oil content. I also threw in some almond meal and roughly chopped one of my beloved Pana Chocolate bars, folding it through the mixture too. Twenty five minutes later I took the experimental cake out of the oven and did a little happy dance. It had worked! I'd created an obnoxiously easy and tasty cake out of sheer laziness. And what a cake! It's fudgey and satisfying and completely peanut-buttery. Indeed if "peanut butter cookie cake" sounds repulsive to you, chances are you won't like it. Delicate and subtle it is not, full-on peanut butter goodness it is. Personally, I like a cake that tastes indulgent yet is actually full of wholesome ingredients. Joan also adores it too, though, let's be real, she eats anything. The girl is food crazy. I wonder where she gets that from...

I have made this recipe a  number of times since the initial experiment, tinkering with flour proportions a touch, so check out the notes if you feel like adjusting the ingredients. I insist on using Pana Chocolate, my very favourite and for whom I decided to perfect this recipe. Most days I pop a piece or two of Pana to help me charge through the afternoon. I have also successfully converted my father, who for years was gifted magnets with various "chocolate is the most important thing in life" sayings from students and clients. It's great stuff, folks. My intake will surely spike this month, as we start packing. And Joan turns one! Did I mention she's now walking?!! Many, many good things are happening over here.

Peanut Butter Cookie Cake

Inspired by and adapted from Heidi Swanson's perfect peanut butter cookies Ingredients

1.5 cups spelt flour
1 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of sea salt
1 cup honey/rice malt syrup or maple
1 cup natural* peanut butter
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
100g very ripe banana, mashed (1 small-medium banana)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
65g (1.5 blocks) Pana Chocolate, “eighty variety” or raw cacao variety. I used a mix of the two.

Notes: this recipe also works well with 2 cups spelt flour and only 1/2 cup almond meal – it makes it less fudgey and more cakey. Replacing the spelt with regular flour will make it even lighter. Feel free to try maple syrup in place of the rice malt and add as much chocolate as you like (2 bars works a treat!). * Use a natural peanut butter that has a smooth and well-combined consistency (chunky is fine, just make sure it’s more runny than firm) and try to use one that isn’t salted. If your peanut butter is salted generously, don’t add much salt to the mix at all. As a rule, I prefer more artisan nut butters for toast and eating from the jar, but when baking in large quantities, Kraft is cheap and works well.

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a 20cm springform cake pan with baking paper.
2. Whisk the flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl.
3. In another, larger mixing bowl mash the banana before adding the honey, peanut butter, extra virgin olive oil and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined, being careful to not overmix. Add the chocolate and fold though gently.
5. Pour the mix into the cake tin, smooth the surface and bake in the hot oven for 22-25 minutes, until the top is slightly golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool before removing it from the cake tin and letting it cool completely. Individually wrapped slices of cake freeze really well.

Heidi xo