Beat The Wheat: Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Icing


By: Carol Blymire
AKA They Say It’s Your Birthday

Happy birthday. Wow, you look fantastic! Let’s have some cake, shall we?

Birthdays can be tough when you have celiac disease. You crave the cakes, pies and cupcakes you’ve always had, and most commercially made gluten-free cakes from a bakery or specialty store just don’t cut it. They’re dry and gritty, or way too gummy, and just not very celebratory.

Growing up, birthday cakes were a big tradition in our family. My Uncle Don was a baker and owned a pastry shop across the street from my elementary school. So when birthdays rolled around, there’d always be two: one from the bakery for the big celebration, and then a homemade one for a quiet birthday dinner at home with just my parents and my brother. My mom would try out different cakes each year, but the one I kept requesting — and the one that is still my favorite to this day — is Hershey’s Black Magic Cake. Developed in the 1960s to promote Hershey’s signature products, the cake is suggested served with chocolate icing, but to me that’s overkill. Here’s the secret: My mom’s peanut butter icing. It will rock your world.

My mom tweaked the original Hershey’s recipe ever so slightly, and I’ve done it a bit more to accommodate for gluten-free flour. This cake made me happy to have birthdays again. I hope it does the same for you!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Icing


If you have buttermilk left over from another recipe, you can use buttermilk instead of whole milk in the cake batter. It makes it a teeny bit richer, which is never a bad thing, right?
Total Time: Approximately 90 min
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 35 min
Cooling Time: 30-45 min
Yield: Serves 8-10
Level: Easy
Chocolate Cake
2 cups gluten-free flour (Recommended: Cup4Cup)
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup strong brewed coffee (Confession: I love Maxwell House for this.)

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly whisked
Peanut Butter Icing
2 cups confectioners’ sugar plus extra for dusting
2 tablespoons Crisco

1 cup smooth peanut butter (Another confession: JIF creamy, all the way!)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Sift dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl.
  • Stir in coffee, milk, oil, vanilla extract and eggs. Stir until batter is smooth (it will be very thin).
  • Pour batter into 2 well-greased 8-inch-round cake pans.
  • Bake 35 minutes on the middle rack of your oven.
  • Let cake pans cool on a baking rack on the countertop.
  • To make the frosting, beat together sugar and Crisco using a stand mixer until well combined and creamy.
  • Add peanut butter, vanilla extract and whole milk, then beat until fluffy.
  • Frost and layer the cake when it has cooled completely.
  • Dust top of cake with powdered sugar (optional).
  • Layer and frost the cake after both layers have cooled completely (about 30 to 45 minutes).
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