November is a big month for birthdays in my family, beginning with my mom’s. She gets bored of chocolate cake, whereas I’d be happy with some sort of chocolate cake for every occasion.

For my friend’s birthday last July, I made fondue (pound cake, fresh fruit, marshmallows and chocolate) with a side of homemade caramel popcorn. It was my first time making caramel popcorn, and I was surprised by how easy it was. Furthermore, people were absolutely thrilled to eat this crunchy treat. It expanded my thoughts on what is dessert.

So when I saw a recipe on Sweetapolita for Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Popcorn, I was intrigued. My mom has always been a popcorn fiend – I can remember the days before the microwave packets, when people did stovetop popcorn. There was a product called Jiffy Pop, but my mom has always been one to do everything from scratch (and now, by extension, so am I). Instead of Jiffy Pop, she would take out a great big pot, heat up some oil and then pop up a storm. This typically happened on Friday nights and it was always such a treat. And for her birthday, I decided to give the treat of popcorn back to her.

The cake itself was fantastic – I wasn’t sure how much the flavour of peanut butter would come through, but it definitely had a satisfying peanut butter taste. The texture was also delectable, which I attribute to the inclusion of peanut butter. There was almost a soft, sandy quality to it. And the whole thing assembled was a visual treat and just lots of fun. I asked my five-year-old nephew to mix chocolate chips into the popcorn and to pile the popcorn on top – although it seemed that for every fistful that went onto the cake, another fistful went into his mouth – as evidenced by the smears of chocolate on his cheeks and his round, shiny, guilty eyes. And once the candles were blown out, adults and children alike started picking the popcorn off the cake. It was very interactive.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Popcorn

A thoroughly fun birthday cake with something for everyone

My modifications

  • I used two 9″ cake pans instead of three 8″ cake pans – I may have overfilled the pans just a bit, but the cakes still turned out perfectly.
  • I somehow missed the step about adding chocolate chips to the cake – I think it would have been even tastier with the chips.
  • I used my tried and true recipe for caramel popcorn from all – I just prepared a half a recipe and I added half a cup of peanuts to it.
  • I didn’t use marshmallows in the popcorn but instead added some chocolate chips. My nephew had a great idea to add M&Ms to the popcorn, which I didn’t have on hand but I will do that next time … because there will definitely be a next time for this recipe, although I think it could be a lot of fun as cupcakes.
  • I used half and half cream in the chocolate icing instead of milk.