Looking for the perfect cake to make for the chocolate-peanut butter lover? This cake raises everyone's favorite flavor combo to new levels. Combining a deep dark chocolate cake with a smooth peanut butter cream cheese icing, the ultimate surprise is the center layer of crunchy chocolate meringue. Decorate with more meringues, peanuts and peanut butter chocolate candies - the ultimate!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8 in. x 2 in. round pans with vegetable pan spray.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, 1 cup cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In large bowl, beat milk, vegetable oil, 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 1/4 cup brown sugar, eggs, instant coffee and 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla with electric mixer until well combined. Add flour and mix on low speed until evenly moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on cooling grid 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on grid.
While cake cools, make meringues. Preheat oven to 250°F. Using the bottom of 8 in. round cake pan, trace an 8 in. circle onto parchment paper. Flip parchment over and place on cookie pan.
In large bowl, whip Meringue Powder, water and salt with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, gradually add 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form and mixture triples in volume. Reduce speed to low and add 1/4 cup cocoa powder, scraping down bottom and sides of bowl as necessary and beating until well combined.
Using a decorating bag fitted with tip 1A, pipe a large meringue disc about 1/2 in. thick to fill the 8 in. circle. Use remaining meringue batter to pipe meringue kisses in varying sizes on parchment paper.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until center of large meringue disc feel firm and crisp. Cool completely on pan. If meringue disc is wider than cake layers, trim slightly. Dust meringue kisses with cocoa powder, if desired.
For icing, beat cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.
To assemble cake, remove crowns and torte each layer. Position first cake layer, bottom side down, on cake board or serving plate. Spread with peanut butter icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Repeat with second cake layer, icing, and peanuts. Top with meringue disc. Spread with peanut butter icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Continue with remaining cake layers, icing the top layer smooth and reserving chopped peanuts. Crumb coat sides of cake. Refrigerate until firm.
For ganache, combine chopped chocolate and cream in medium microwave-safe container. Microwave at half (50%) power 1 minute; stir. Microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until chocolate is almost melted. Stir thoroughly until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly (10-15 minutes) before covering top of chilled cake with ganache, allowing excess to drip down sides of cake.
While ganache is still wet, sprinkle top with remaining chopped peanuts. Add meringue kisses and chopped peanut butter cup candies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.