Summer Vacation Piecaken

Serves 16.

Note: We adapted the “impossible pie” recipe with peanut butter, then found a kid-friendly chocolate cake recipe. The peanut butter pie layer must cool for an hour before the chocolate batter is prepared, then the whole cake must cool for several hours before glazing and slicing. A morning’s baking for an evening’s dessert!

Impossible Peanut Butter Pie:

• 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

• 1/3 c. flour

• 1/2 tsp. baking powder

• Pinch of salt

• 1 egg

• 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

• 1/3 c. crunchy peanut butter

• Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake (see recipe)

• Ganache Glaze (see recipe)

• Chopped peanuts, for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray only the bottom surface of an 8-inch pie plate.

In large bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, egg, cream and peanut butter. Beat at medium-high speed, scraping bowl occasionally, about 1 minute. Pour into the pie plate; do not spread the batter.

Bake for 35 minutes until puffed and dry in the center.

Let cool completely on a wire rack. It will sink slightly.

Once the “pie” is cool, make the chocolate cake as directed. Once the cake is baked and cool (or wait until immediately before serving), drizzle ganache over top, letting it drip down the sides. Garnish with chopped peanuts.


Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake

Makes 1 (9-inch) cake.

Note: From “Short & Sweet: The Best of Home Baking,” by Dan Lepard.

• 1/4 c. cold water

• 1/4 c. good-quality cocoa powder

• 1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. boiling water

• 2 oz. good dark chocolate, chopped into little pieces

• 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

• 3/4 c. brown sugar, packed

• 1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk

• 2 eggs

• 1 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil

• 1 1/2 c. flour

• 2 tsp. baking powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit in a 9-inch springform pan. Spray the pan, then put in the parchment paper. (The spray helps hold it in place.)

In a small bowl, stir 1/4 cup cold water with the cocoa to make a smooth paste, then whisk in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water. Add the chopped chocolate and let melt, stirring occasionally.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a large bowl and a hand mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and condensed milk until very smooth. Then beat in the eggs and oil.

(You can freeze the remaining condensed milk for up to 3 months for another piecaken, or to make this chocolate cake recipe as a simple loaf-pan cake, baking for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees.)

In a small bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder.

Add a third of the flour to the egg mixture and beat until combined. Then add half of the chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Add another third of the flour, the remaining chocolate and then the remaining flour, beating well after each addition. There should be no white streaks of flour.


For the piecaken: Measure out 2 cups of batter onto the parchment paper in the springform pan. A spoon helps spread it evenly.

With 2 hands, carefully ease the peanut butter “pie” from the pan, supporting it from beneath, then gently place it on the batter. Scrape the remaining batter into the pan, spreading and directing it down the sides to enclose the peanut butter pie.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is firm when pressed.

Place on a wire rack until completely cooled. You also can keep the cake overnight in the pan, covering it tightly with aluminum foil, then glaze and serve the next day.

Ganache Glaze

• 1/3 c. heavy whipping cream

• 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped very fine, or semisweet chocolate chips


In small saucepan over medium heat, warm cream and bring carefully just to a boil. Remove pan from heat, add the chocolate, cover and let stand for a minute, then stir to melt. It will thicken as it cools.