My birthday is right around the corner, and with it come thoughts of cake. Specifically, chocolate cake with peanut butter icing, requested as my birthday cake since the 1980’s.
It’s not a thing at all around here, as evidenced by my New Orleanian friends’ blank stares. But … in central PA, it’s so very common. I don’t know if it’s really a Pennsylvania Dutch dessert specifically, but I have eaten my share in the kitchen of my grandma, that’s for sure.
Remember those 1970’s and ’80’s commercials for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?
“You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”
“Well, you got your peanut butter in my chocolate!”
“Two great tastes that taste great together!”
That’s pretty much how I feel about this cake/icing combo. Yes, icing. I never did hear the word “frosting” until I went off to college, crossing that invisible line which runs somewhere down the center of Pennsylvania, demarcating soda from pop and icing from frosting.
I got to eat a classic version on my recent trip north. Driving down the Susquehanna Trail/Route 15 with the river meandering to your left, you pass the Ranch House Restaurant, a family-run joint we’ve been frequenting since my childhood. My first memories of this place are scary: Uncle Bob, who was then a trucker, introduced it to my family. My mom was a vehement anti-smoker, and there we were with big, gruff men smoking AND drinking coffee, yet another vice frowned upon by Mom. Their menu seems to have diversified over the years, but that chocolate cake is still there, icing glistening through the glass cake stand. We got two pieces to go and enjoyed every morsel.
Oddly, although I have not one, not two, but six separate recipes for chocolate cake in my recipe boxes and binders, I have not one recipe for peanut butter icing. I found this one online that seems close to what I remember, but experimentation will be needed. Oh, yes. It WILL be needed.