Recipe Finder | Peanut butter cake

Gina Karwacki of Baltimore said that many years ago, her good friend's husband worked in the kitchen at Karson's Inn on Holabird Avenue in Dundalk. One of his favorite cakes was the peanut butter cake that was made there. Karwacki and her friend have been looking online for a recipe for this cake but have had no success.

Back in the day, Karson's was one of Baltimore's best-known restaurants. As former Baltimore Sun restaurant critic Elizabeth Large said, "Customers lined up around the block for executive chef George Karson's Maryland seafood and steaks." But after Karson's father, a co-owner, died in the mid-1980s, the restaurant's popularity began to fade. Although Karson tried to revive the place in the late 1990s, it did not survive. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate anyone who had the recipe for the exact peanut butter cake that Karwacki was in search of.


However, Mary Chismar of Port Carbon, Pa., saw Karwacki's request and shared her recipe for peanut butter cake. I never had the pleasure of dining at Karson's, so I don't know how close Chismar's cake comes to the one that was served there. But I can tell you that this is one decadent and delicious layer cake.

Most recipes I've come across for peanut butter cake have either a peanut butter and cream cheese frosting or a chocolate fudge frosting. Chismar's recipe calls for more of a plain, butter cream-type of frosting that is topped with toasted coconut and chopped peanuts. While this was probably not how it was frosted at Karson's, I thought the toppings really elevated this cake above the ordinary. The cake is very rich, so cut the slices on the small side and don't forget your glass of cold milk.



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Peanut butter cake


Makes 12 to 14 servings

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

21/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

3 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups milk

Crunchy frosting

6 tablespoons margarine or butter

2 egg yolks*

1/3 cup light cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 pound confectioners' sugar

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup finely ground peanuts

Cream together the peanut butter, shortening and vanilla. Then beat in the brown sugar and eggs, adding each egg one at a time and beating after each addition.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk into the peanut butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Divide the batter equally between three greased and floured 9-inch, round cake pans.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake shrinks away from the sides of the pan. Cool layers on rack completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat margarine or butter until soft and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, then add cream and vanilla. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar to make the frosting a spreadable consistency. You may not need the full amount of sugar.

Mix together the coconut and peanuts. Spread frosting between each layer and on the top and sides of the cake, then sprinkle the coconut and peanut mixture over the frosting.

*Warning: Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs carries the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, it is recommended that you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella by pasteurization or another approved method. The Food and Drug Administration also advises cooking the eggs; visit foodsafety.gov/blog/eggnog.html for preparation details.

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