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Burnt Sugar Fudge Layer Cake with Peanut Butter Mousse

A moist, fudgy chocolate cake with an airy peanut butter mousse filling. A must for chocolate-peanut butter fans.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 16 servings
Calories 745kcal
Author Marye Audet-White



  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

Sugar Syrup

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup caramel vodka

Peanut Butter Mousse

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 -1/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the Ganache

  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup this is optional but it keeps the ganache shiny



  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Grease and flour 3 8-inch round cake pans
  • Add the white sugar to a heavy pan on medium heat
  • Let it melt, stirring, until it becomes a liquid and becomes golden brown
  • When it reaches a golden brown color carefully add 1/2 cup boiling water to the sugar and stir to combine.
  • Add the butter, cut in small pieces, and stir until melted.
  • Set aside to cool slightly
  • Mix the flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a mixer.
  • Add eggs to milk and whisk until combined.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture on low speed just until mixed.
  • Add the caramel mixture along with the boiling water and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  • Divide mixture between the three cake pans.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool in pans for 10 minutes and turn out to cool completely on racks.
  • (End of step 1 - stop here if you are making it in stages over a period of time)

Sugar Syrup

  • Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.
  • Reduce to medium heat and add the sugar, stirring until it completely dissolves.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture reduces and has the consistency of syrup.
  • Add the vodka, mix well, and allow to cool.
  • Store leftover in the fridge in a glass jar.
  • (End of Step 2 - May be done ahead. Just warm the syrup before using)

Peanut Butter Mousse

  • Whip the cream with 1/4 cup of the confectioners sugar until it holds peaks - don't overbeat.
  • Set whipped cream in the refrigerator.
  • Beat the cream cheese, remaining confectioners sugar and peanut butter until well combined and smooth.
  • Add 1 -2 tablespoons of heavy cream to the peanut butter mixture to loosen the it.
  • Whip.
  • Add one-fourth of the whipped cream and fold it gently into the peanut butter mixture.
  • Add the remaining whipped cream and fold in gently until well combined.
  • Refrigerate in an airtight container until needed.
  • (end of step 3 - May be done up to 2 days ahead)

Assemble the Cake

  • You will need to make a wide collar for the top of the springform to keep all of the cake and mousse in place. Do this by folding heavy duty aluminum foil in half and taping it around the outside of the springform to make the pan higher. Easy to do, hard to explain.
  • Place the first layer in a 8 inch springform pan.
  • Brush with sugar syrup.
  • Add 1/3 of the peanut butter mousse.
  • Place the next layer over the mousse gently.
  • Brush with the sugar syrup.
  • Add 1/3 of the peanut butter mousse.
  • Place the last layer over the mousse.
  • Brush with the sugar syrup.
  • Add the remaining mousse and freeze overnight.
  • (end of step 4 - Must be done 1 day ahead but can be done up to one week ahead of time)

Make the Ganache

  • Heat the cream to simmering and add the chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir until well blended and smooth.
  • Cool slightly.

Finish the Cake

  • Remove collar and springform from cake.
  • Spoon ganache over cake spreading gently with a spoon to cover top.
  • Add more ganache to the edges and let it drip down the side, spreading it to cover the sides as it does.
  • It will look horrible at this point. Really messy.
  • Chill a few minutes until the layer of ganache is set.
  • Finish with the remaining ganache, keeping it as smooth as possible.
  • Chill for 20 minutes before serving.


Calories: 745kcal | Carbohydrates: 84g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 406mg | Potassium: 318mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 67g | Vitamin A: 1235IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 1.9mg