Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Cake


Raise your hand if you absolutely LOATHE taking tests of any kind.

*raises hand* Oh, me me me me me!

And how come whenever I have to take a test, my anxiety swells to infinity and beyond?

Like, for instance, when you’re taking a test and you want to look up because your neck is cramped from looking down for an hour straight but you fear that by looking up, the proctor may interpret that as you looking at other people’s answer keys. Because when I look up, I swear it’s only because my neck doesn’t have the ability to be in the downward position for a long time and unless they start giving us tests on computers, which would be WAY more modern and efficient than a stupid scantron, I can’t not look up. Yet I’m always super afraid everyone thinks I’m being suspicious by looking up and around. Can’t a girl look around a room full of test-takers without being persecuted?! It’s NECK PAIN, yo.

Or when you are both angry and relieved to see multiple choice as it both helps you and doubts you. So I recently had to take a competency test for a county job and they ask you definitions of certain words. And being an English major and a self-proclaimed grammar freak, I am always like “oh, this is totally easy. I totally know what ‘mandate’ means!” and then I’ll see the options and be like, “OH MY GOD IT COULD BE ALL OF THESE” even though the options are like, A) an authoritative command; B) a pineapple; C) your face; D) a fancy, legalish word that you could SWEAR you’ve heard on Law and Order before but can’t for the life of you picture Goren OR Eames using it in the courtroom. WHY CAN’T YOU USE MORE LEGAL TERMS, LAW AND ORDER? Aren’t you supposed to teaching me about not getting murdered in New York and acing the legal terms portion of my county test?

Or like when you’re doing the math part of the test and suddenly forget how to subtract. Life gave us calculators. Let’s use them. Also, it was embarrassing that I forgot how to subtract. Like, brutal. I promise I’m competent. 

So then I came home and buried my test anxieties deep inside of a decadent cake that wouldn’t judge me if I looked around the room or forgot to subtract. Actually, I didn’t subtract much from this cake: it’s fully-loaded with delicious add-ins and sugar. No shortages here, people.

DSC_0375And if you’re wondering, yes, it IS the right answer.

DSC_0380Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Cake *inspired by Shelly’s Cake Batter Brownie Snack Cake recipe 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Cake
Recipe type: Cakes/Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-15
Combining chocolate and peanut butter was probably one of the best inventions ever. The second best invention was making this cake.
  • 1 box chocolate fudge brownie mix, plus ingredients on back of box
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 24 Reese's peanut butter cups, unwrapped
  • Peanut butter frosting (recipe and ingredients follow)
  • Reese's Pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • Splash vanilla extract
  • About 3 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 13x9 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the yellow cake mix, eggs, oil, and peanut butter until combined. Spread the peanut butter mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Place the peanut butter cups gently into the peanut butter dough base, 4 rows of 6 each. Top with the prepared brownie batter.
  3. Bake for approx. 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out mostly clean, and center is set. Cool completely.
  4. Frost with the peanut butter frosting and top immediately with Reese's Pieces. Cut into bars and serve. Store leftovers airtight, for a couple days in the fridge.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, peanut butter and vanilla until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar until frosting is fluffy but still soft (it won't be stiff like regular frosting but rather more soft like dough). Spread onto cooled bars.


DSC_0371These bars are INSANELY chocolatey, sweet and salty, and totally YUMMY. When Shelly posted her version, I couldn’t get over the combination of a fudgy brownie mixed with a sweet and sprinkly cake and immediately thought of different versions for this. Of course, chocolate and peanut butter came to mind. Hello, best pairing ever! The peanut butter cups in between the layers add yet another layer of gooieness to these irresistible bars. Or are they cake? Dense, chewy, fudgy and tasty, they’re kind of a hybrid between the two. And the frosting almost takes on qualities of peanut butter cookie dough, amping up that salty peanut butter bite even more. You’ll love these!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

xo, Hayley

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  1. This looks stunning! I’m off today and am going to attempt this so wish me luck!

  2. Oh, and I’ll probably at 6 pounds!

  3. This looks absolutely amazing Hayley! I need to make this now 🙂

  4. Oh My Word! I am getting up right now to make these! They look AMAZING! Thank you for ALL of your AMAZING recipes! Everything you post is absolutely YUMMY!

  5. Oh my GAH. You had me at Reese’s Pieces.

  6. Woah. That frosting with the Reese’s Pieces looks amazing…i want to sink my teeth into it!!

  7. I’m dying here. You’re killing me with the decadence. It is a slow, albeit yummy, death 😉

    And between this and the your story about feeling like people think you are stealing in stores, I believe we might be the same person. Seriously. Though, to be fair, my subtraction skills are pretty mediocre even without the whole added test anxiety.

  8. Wow! Very decadent! I love chocolate peanut butter combinations and this one looks amazing!

  9. Oh wowwwww this sounds AMAZING!

    I’m actually one of the weirdos that kind of liked taking tests. Though I hate when you weren’t allowed to write on the exam (even if it’s only because I like drawing dinosauce). Tests on a computer are EVEN WORSE! I took my MCAT on a computer, and though you can have scrap paper, I liked basically laying on top of my desk while exam taking + scribbling dinosaurs all over everything. Dinosaurs help me think. [Conclusion, next time draw a dinosaur and you’ll LOVE test taking. Bonus points if he’s wearing a sombrero.]

    • Dude, I love you. Dinosaurs RULE. You’ll be super jelly when you know I have a dress with pterodactyls all over it haha. And I love doodling or day dreaming–it seriously helps me focus sometimes! But I usually doodle unicorns or cupcakes or creepy balloons with spiky teeth (uh, don’t ask).

  10. Ok I am a freak and I love to take tests. You can always look up in a test just make sure to look straight ahead or only at the proctor. I love Kelly’s advice of Dinosaurs! Now as for this brownie cake?! OMG I need that right now!

  11. Oh man, I’ve totally been there! Especially in university, where the invigilators looked evil and so suspicious! My habit was thinking about the fun and amazing things I was going to go home and do after the exam was done (especially after summer exams) and would spent a few minutes daydreaming before I remembered what I was supposed to be doing…yikes!
    But this cake looks so yummy! You can’t beat peanut butter and chocolate together 😀

  12. This, Hayley, is the ultimate chocolate peanut butter dessert. Holy yum. You certainly didn’t subtract anything from this recipe, and I’m so glad you didn’t! I’ve had a stressful couple of days, so I think I might just bake a batch of these bad boys and have a little date night with them.

  13. I am drooling looking at this, this coming from a non peanut butter lover!

  14. You know me so well Hayley, I WILL love these!

    You’re gonna hate me though, I’m super good at tests. I’m that obnoxious person who’s finished like 5 minutes after the test starts and then sits and reads while everyone glares at them and mutters “nerd” under their breath. It’s an unfortunate cross I bear.

  15. I could eat them all up right now! I’m making a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie this weekend for my son’s 10th birthday! I can’t wait to dig into the PB Cups! Have an awesome weekend Hayley!

  16. I want this cake for lunch! And dinner! Delish!

  17. But maybe mandate is just some kind of crazy exotic pineapple! Heehee I got you Hayley MC is always a monkey’s paw sort of deal. I like it because it appears easier, but at what cost? My sanity? Ugh. Though I’m not a huge PB fan these photos are freaking awesome and I think I’d even try one just because of how cute they are! Also chocolate never hurts 😉

  18. My birthday is in a couple months. I think this might need to happen.

  19. Peanut butter frosting??!! Ahhh stop tempting me with all of these delicious desserts!! Just kidding – keep tempting me 😉

  20. These look pretty sturdy.. do you think they’d hold up well to travel?

  21. I love the Reese’s pieces on top!! This recipe is killing me right now. I need to stop what Im doing and bake!!!

  22. Yikes! That is the best looking treat I have seen all day! What I would give to bite into a big bar of peanut butter brownie goodness! I love this!!!

  23. Wow, Hayley, this looks great! I love the cross-section of the peanut butter cups…yum. 😀 When you look up from a test, you should just massage your neck very obviously and make a big show of rolling your head around while very clearly staring *over* the heads of everyone. 😉

  24. Oh.My.Goodness! Hayley, you kill me. You had me at the chocolate and peanut butter part but cakey brownie goodness to and confectionary on top. Insane! And you know when *I* say insane it means good, right?

    I thought the same about your Red Velvet cookies n cream magic bars. They went so fast, I need to whip up another batch. Everyone commented on how good they were too.

  25. Holy crap Hayley (and, I think this is how I start lots of comments on your blog?) this is amazeballs. Cake and brownies and peanut butter??????????? Yes. Please.

    Test. Yuck. I am loathing when I have to go re-do a driver’s test. *Shudder*

  26. Must have this, Hayley! Sure, those slutty brownie things are good, but give me peanut buttery awesomeness over Oreos anyday.

  27. omg – i love EVERY component of this. wow, i would be in HEAVEN if i had a slice of this!! i am obsessed with all things peanut butter (in fact, i kind of want to eat a spoonful right now) and chocolate!!

  28. So many flavor layers & textures going on…but it all boils down to chocolate +PB. Nuff said 🙂

  29. True story: I took a 2-hour accounting final in graduate school and never moved my head once, in fear someone would think I was cheating. My neck was so sore after class that I literally COULD NOT turn my head. My friend had to drive my car home. Yep, I’m that much of a nerd. These bars would definitely cheer me up, though. That Reese’s Pieces/peanut butter frosting looks to die for.

  30. There is nothing like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate to make everyone swoon. Put reeses pieces on top and you may have to call EMS! 🙂

  31. I am so bad at multiple choice answers that I avoid them like the plague. Thankfully, there is no A) B) or C) about this cake. There is only one correct answer, delicious!

  32. These were sooo good! Thanks for putting up the recipe, you’re an amazing cook!

  33. Kristin Bailey says:

    Could you please let me know if you used fun sized peanut butter cups or regular sized ones? I want to make this for my Uncle but my Aunt and I are arguing over the size of the peanut butter cups to be used. Thanks!

  34. This was AMAZING!!! My husband made it for me for my birthday dessert and it was everything I wanted it to be when I chose it for him to make. Thanks for the great recipe. 🙂

  35. Great recipe except for mine turned our burnt on bottom


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