Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mousse Brownie Cake {Reese's PB Cake}

We’re not messing around today.

Yes, this cake is a little crazy. Yes, it’s slightly over-the-top. Yes, it’s absolutely one of the yummiest desserts I’ve ever tasted. Sometimes, a dessert with a little bit of oomph (a nice way to say a little bit of work) is exactly what you need.

And actually, while this brownie cake does involve a few steps to get each of those luscious layers deliciously perfect, each step of the recipe is simple as can be.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mousse Brownie Cake {Reese's PB Cake}

Considering the whole peanut butter, chocolate, brownie thing is waaaaay high up on Brian’s list of favorite flavors, this is a no-brainer of a Father’s Day dessert for him, although I can see myself finding a million excuses to make this cake.

It’s hard to describe the happiness those light and fluffy layers of peanut butter and chocolate mousse piled on top of the rich, fudgy brownie bring to my life. Of course on top and in between all that gloriousness is dreamy chocolate ganache and enough mini Reese’s peanut butter cups to feed a small army.

Speaking of an army, this cake will serve about that. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your guests will need a huge honkin’ slice to be satisfied. Even the slice I show in the picture above could probably have been cut a little thinner (ahem, although I had no problem devouring it completely).

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mousse Brownie Cake {Reese's PB Cake}

Be sure to read through the recipe and get a grip on the steps involved (the cake can easily be made ahead of time but it requires a few chilling periods and probably a little self-control to make sure the mousse actually makes it onto the cake).

And I certainly don’t need to state this out loud (but of course I will), if you’re looking to stockpile some rock star points in the kitchen, this cake will most certainly do the trick.

One Year Ago: Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting
Two Years Ago: Brown Sugar Rhubarb Muffins with A Little Bit of Streusel On Top
Three Years Ago: Thin and Crispy Oatmeal Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Brownie Cake

Yield: Serves 12-16

Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Brownie Cake

Can we talk about heavy cream for a minute? It's important to use the right kind in this recipe so that the mousse layers whip up to thick and fluffy wonderfulness. Regular whipping cream won't work here - you need heavy whipping cream with 40% milkfat for best results (especially if you don't want to whip the heavy cream into stiff peaks before using in either of the mousse components which saves dirtying up another bowl).

Because this cake is loaded with rich, decadent layers, you can get away with serving thin slices.

UPDATE: Please read through the comments before making this recipe! Many of you have had issues with soupy/grainy mousse layers and I'd rather that not happen to anyone else.

Ingredients

    Brownie Base:
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks or 5 ounces) butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (9 7/8 ounces) sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 7/8 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (2 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounce bag mini Reese's peanut butter cups, unwrapped and cut in half
  • Peanut Butter Mousse:
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup (1.5 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
  • Chocolate Mousse:
  • 9 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into chunks (or use good-melting chocolate chips)
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
  • Chocolate Ganache:
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the bottom and sides with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For the brownies, in a medium microwave-safe bowl (or in a pan on the stovetop), melt the butter, sugar and cocoa powder at 1-minute intervals, stirring in between, until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is well-combined.
  3. Let the mixture cool to warm room temperature. Stir in the salt and vanilla. Add the eggs and mix until the batter is thick and smooth. Stir in the flour until combined. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until the brownie is set around the edges and only moist crumbs come out when a toothpick is inserted in the center (not wet batter). Remove the pan from the oven and let the brownies cool completely (in the pan).
  4. Top the cooled brownie layer with about 20-22 of the mini Reese's peanut butter cups that have been cut in half (so about 40 halves total on top of the brownie layer).
  5. For the peanut butter mousse, in a large bowl with an electric handheld mixer (or in an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), whip the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth and lump-free. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and mix until lightly and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the heavy cream and mix, starting on low speed so it doesn't splatter everywhere, mix until well-combined. Add the remaining cup of cream and mix until the mixture is very thick, 4-5 minutes (UPDATE: according to many of your comments and depending on the type of mixer you are using, this may be too long! Stop mixing after it gets thick, even if it's only after a minute or so). Dollop large spoonfuls of the peanut butter mousse over the mini peanut butter cups and brownie layer. Spread into an even layer. Refrigerate while making the chocolate mousse.
  6. For the chocolate mousse, melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at 1-minute intervals, 50% power, until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool completely.
  7. In a large bowl (I use the same one as the peanut butter mousse after I've quickly wiped it clean) with an electric handheld mixer (or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), whip together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and lump-free. Add the vanilla extract and 1 cup of the heavy cream and mix, starting on slow speed so it doesn't splatter, until smooth, 1 minute or so. Add the rest of the heavy cream and mix until thick and fluffy, 4-5 minutes.
  8. When the chocolate is completely cool (this is critical! If it's warm at all, it will make the mixture soupy - it should still be melted but cool to the touch), fold it into the whipped cream mixture using a large spoon or rubber spatula to gently stir the mixture up and over until it is well-combined. Whisking too quickly might deflate the whipped cream mixture.
  9. Spread the chocolate mousse evenly over the peanut butter mousse. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours (or up to overnight).
  10. Run a long thin knife under hot water and wipe clean. Run the knife around the edge of the brownies to loosen from the sides of the pan. Undo the springform pan and lift off the sides. You can serve the cake on the base of the springform pan or use a wide spatula in between the parchment and pan bottom to lift off the cake and place on a serving platter.
  11. For the ganache, combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl (you can do this in a pan on the stovetop) and microwave at 1-minute intervals, stirring in between, until the mixture is glossy and smooth (it should only take a minute or so in the microwave). Let the mixture cool slightly so it isn't super hot but is still pourable - slightly warm room temperature is fine. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake; it doesn't need to cover the entire top and it's ok if it drizzles down the side. It should look a bit rustic.
  12. Pile any extra peanut butter cups in the middle of the ganache. Refrigerate for an hour or so (or serve right away, the ganache will be a little soft and messy, but that's ok). Use a long thin knife to cut into thin slices (running it under hot water and wiping clean can help with neat slices) for serving.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/peanut-butter-chocolate-mousse-brownie-cake/

Recipe Source: inspired by this recipe at Life, Love and Sugar (used an easy homemade brownie recipe, made my own peanut butter and mousse layers and used ganache instead of frosting)

69 Responses to Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Brownie Cake

  1. Marilyn says:

    Can I just give an “amen” to how over-the-top delicious this is. I tasted it in person. I still crave it every night. You won’t be disappointed.

  2. Chelsea says:

    Oh my gracious. You are speaking my language today!

  3. noshi says:

    still dream about that vanilla bean mouse cheesecake and now this!!! you are good!

  4. Beverley says:

    Mel this is a dream cake xoxo

  5. Nan says:

    Do you think it would work to freeze the mousse and brownie layers, defrost in the fridge, and add the ganache layer on the day you serve it? Have you ever tried freezing this mousse recipe?

    • Mel says:

      Hmmm, I’m not sure, Nan. I’m worried the mousse might take on a grainy texture if it’s frozen and since I haven’t tried it, I’m not completely sure how it would work out. The brownie layer will freeze just fine – I’m not sure about the rest.

      • Nan says:

        I tried freezing this before topping with ganache. It worked perfectly! No graininess at all. It was really handy to be able to make this fairly involved dessert in advance. It was a BIG hit with all the dads at our Father’s Day celebration. Thank you for another great recipe!

        • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

          Hello Nan. Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. I am so glad to hear this worked well for you, especially since there were a lot of people who had trouble with it. Thank you for reporting back.

  6. Annie says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. I must have this!

  7. Lauren says:

    Are you kidding me?!?! I”m trying REALLY hard to stay away from sugar and then you go do this? How can I resist?

  8. Jill says:

    This will definitely be on my father’s day menu! My husband will go nuts for this!

  9. Brenda says:

    That cake looks so delicious! That is amazing you can make something that looks so beautiful and yummy.

  10. Katie says:

    This looks amazing!! If you wanted to make vanilla mousse instead of peanut butter mousse could you just leave the peanut butter out? Or would you have to make other changes as well?

  11. Katie says:

    This looks amazing!! If you wanted to make vanilla mousse instead of peanut butter mousse, could you just leave the peanut butter out? Or would you have to make other changes as well?

    • Mel says:

      The peanut butter helps stabilize the whipped cream giving it that thick, mousse-y feel so if you left it out, it really would just be whipped cream, which isn’t a bad thing – it will just be a bit softer.

  12. Leah says:

    This looks amazing! Have you made this using natural peanut butter (the kind you need to stir) or only “regular” peanut butter? Wondering if it would affect the consistency/texture in a negative way or if it wouldn’t make much difference because it’s a chilled cake . . . . .

    • Mel says:

      Good question, Leah. I haven’t made this with natural peanut butter. I want to say it will work – but I do think it might make the mousse a little grainier.

  13. Tammy says:

    Yum!! This will be our Father’s Day dinner. If we have room, green beans for dessert.

  14. Katie says:

    Do you think this could be made a day or 2 before and kept in the fridge?

  15. Danielle says:

    Is there a reason you can’t mix the melted chocolate in before whipping the chocolate mousse layer?

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hey Danielle, Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. The main reason is for texture. By folding it in at the end you will maintain a fluffy, mousse-like texture. You can certainly experiment and see how it goes, just make sure the chocolate is completely cool before adding it. Good luck!

      • Jaci says:

        When I folded the cooled melted chocolate into the whipped cream mixture, the chocolate separated out and hardened. I tried it twice, following the instructions carefully both times but it happened the same way both times. It still tastes delicious, but for future reference, what suggestions do you have?

        • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

          Hello Jaci – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. I am so sorry that happened! I am not sure what went wrong since Mel has made this multiple times with success, but I will have her respond personally when she gets back. Sorry that it didn’t work out.

  16. Erin says:

    Help! My mousse is definitely not a mousse. I looked fine until a minute after I mixed in the last cup of heavy whipping cream. It looks grainy and won’t get thick. I followed the directions and used everything just like you said. Any suggestions? I am going to try it again.

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Shoot Erin! Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. Hopefully I can help troubleshoot a little. Was everything cold when you whipped it? Did you use full-fat whipping cream? If you try it again, you could try refrigerating the mixture before you whip it and make sure to whip it for a full 4-5 minutes. Let me know if it turns out.

  17. Shauni says:

    Mel, I’m a long time fan and I love your website and recipes! I’m not sure what I did wrong with this one, but I feel like I had the exact same experience as Erin mentioned above! I’ve never made a mousse before, but I followed all your directions exactly–used heavy whipping cream, beat 5 full minutes, allowed the chocolate to cool, etc. The same thing happened with both mousses–it seems thin and grainy and won’t set up nicely like in the beautiful picture, even after refrigerating quite awhile?! 🙁 Is there a chance beating 4-5 minutes is too long? Is beating on high too fast, or did I beat past the point of “mousse”?

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hello Shauni – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. I am so sorry that happened! I am not sure what went wrong since Mel has made this multiple times with success, but I will have her respond personally when she gets back. Sorry that it didn’t work out.

  18. Adrienne says:

    I’m also have the same problems as Shauni, Erin and Jaci. My PB mousse layer didn’t whip up light and fluffy, definitely more grainy… And my chocolate also separated out and hardened. The whole thing is in my fridge right now, resting before tomorrow’s supper. Each layer still tastes yummy… It just won’t as beautiful as the blog picture and perhaps have a bit of a different texture than it should. Used the right cream, made sure it was cold and set the timer… Hmmm…

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hello Adrienne – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. I am so sorry that happened! I am not sure what went wrong since Mel has made this multiple times with success, but I will have her respond personally when she gets back. Sorry that it didn’t work out.

  19. Jeanine says:

    My pb mousse was grainy too!

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hello Jeanine – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. I am so sorry that happened! I am not sure what went wrong since Mel has made this multiple times with success, but I will have her respond personally when she gets back. Sorry that it didn’t work out.

  20. Traci sheen says:

    I also had all of the major issues above! My PB mousse separated completely twice! And with my chocolate layer the chocolate just hardened and mixed weirdly. I love your site but I am struggling with this recipe. I did everything exactly like the recipe suggested.

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hello Traci – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. I am so sorry that happened! I am not sure what went wrong since Mel has made this multiple times with success, but I will have her respond personally when she gets back. Sorry that it didn’t work out.

  21. Shondel says:

    Me too!! My chocolate mousse looks like chocolate chip mousse because once he cooked chocolate touched the cold cream – it solidified!! And my first attempt at the pb mousse left it wet and separated. The second batch was better – I used cold cream cheese and no vanilla.

    I suppose making a good mousse is harder than I thought.

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hello Shondel – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. I am so sorry that happened! I am not sure what went wrong since Mel has made this multiple times with success, but I will have her respond personally when she gets back. Sorry that it didn’t work out.

  22. Muneeka says:

    Hi Mel! Could you make this the day of and keep it in the freezer for less time? Thanks in advanced!

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hello Muneeka – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. I am not sure how the freezer would effect the texture of the mousse, but it would be fine refrigerated for a day. Good luck!

  23. Lizzie P. says:

    I’m having the same problems. My PB mousse was looking fantastic, and after about 30 seconds of mixing, it got chunky. I tried it twice with the same results, following directions to a T.

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hello Lizzie – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. I am so sorry that happened! I am not sure what went wrong since Mel has made this multiple times with success, but I will have her respond personally when she gets back. Sorry that it didn’t work out.

  24. Sarah says:

    For anyone who is having trouble with the PB mousse, the first time I made it, it was looking good and thick but I decided to whip it just a little longer and when I turned back to my mixer, it was soup. I tried it again and it only took maybe a minute to whip to a thick consistency. I have a Kitchenaid, so perhaps the speed I whipped it at was faster than the recipe. So watch closely and don’t overwhip. Hope this helps.

  25. A says:

    Made this for Father’s Day and the whole family loved it! I noticed my PB mousse got slightly grainy but I stopped whipping just in time to save it. And as for the chocolate mousse I completely misread the directions and wound up adding everything to the melted chocolate, adding the cream and whipping it all together. I got great results this way. I will be making this again! Thank you again for yet another awesome recipe, my husband absolutely loved it!

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      A – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. Thank you for the feedback. I am glad it worked out for you minus the slightly grainy texture. I am so sorry so many people haven’t had success with it so it is good to hear some Father’s Day success :).

  26. Erin says:

    I had the same grainy PB mousse problems as everyone else – twice and I gave up. Maybe with a kitchenaid I mixed too long (only a couple minutes before it went grainy).

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Thank you for the feedback Erin. I am bummed this didn’t work out for you! Mel will probably provide us with a magical answer when she gets back.

  27. KELLEY says:

    I made this for Father’s day and it was a hit. Used a kitchen aid and only beat it about a minute or two to get fluffy. My store only had the 4 cup containers of whipping cream so I also only used 1 3/4 cups of whipping cream in each of the mouse layers since I didn’t want to buy another whole container for the last 1/2 cup. The chocolate layer looked a little lumpy with chocolate bits but after 4 hours of chilling most disolved. I did have a little issue with it not holding the shape perfectly after putting the weight of the Ganache and pb cups on top but sliced it still looked very impressive and tasted fantastic!

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Kelley – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. Thank you so much for the feedback. I am so glad it worked out for you for Father’s Day.

  28. Dev says:

    OMG This is amazing. It looks so yummy in pics. Thanks for sharing this with us !

  29. Annie says:

    I had the same problem with my PB mousse. Made it twice, was grainy after just a few minutes of mixing both times.

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Annie – I am so sorry! I am sure Mel will be addressing the issues people have had with this recipe when she gets back.

  30. Mel says:

    You guys! Thanks for your patience (and I’m sure a lot of frustration) on this recipe. I’m just barely getting back from Africa (actually I’m currently on a plane from Amsterdam to SLC) and was reading through the comments so sad that several of you had issues (and happy that some of you had it work out). I know it’s after the fact and way too late for most of you but let me see if I can help. First, let me say that I know how it goes to get your hopes up for a recipe and make it only to have issues and I’m so sorry for that! Really, really sorry. It’s definitely something that needs to be addressed in the recipe since many of you struggled with the same components.

    The chocolate layer: for those of you who had lumps of chocolate from folding it in to the cream, did they soften and dissolve after refrigerating at all? I know I harped on the chocolate being completely cool so it doesn’t deflate and melt the whipped cream but it looks like too cool may cause issues, too. I’ll be making this again soon to troubleshoot the issues and will pay closer attention to the chocolate temperature.

    The PB layer: although I didn’t have issues with it being grainy and soupy, it sounds like from everyone’s comments that overmixing may be the factor here. I’ll edit the recipe to indicate less whipping but mostly have people check out the comment thread before making.

    Again, I’m so sorry! I had a big pit in my stomach reading through these comments; I hate disappointing any of you with a recipe that wasn’t completely foolproof. Thanks for your patience!

  31. Laurie says:

    Made this yesterday. Followed other advice and only whipped each mousse layer around 1-1 1/2 minutes. Only slightly cooled the chocolate before adding it. Turned out great!

  32. Bernadette says:

    Made this for my sister’s birthday over the holiday weekend. It turned out perfectly with the moderated mixing times. This dessert really was special. The mousse tasted so light in spite of the fat content, and it wasn’t overly sweet… Fantastic! I must add that the chocolate mousse really could stand alone. It truly tasted European in its subtle, rich sweetness.

  33. Bryn says:

    Hi Mel. I’m making this this weekend for my husbands bday. I’m nervous about the mousse layers bc some have had troubles. Would a fudge sauce work to mix in with the cream? Too thick? I’m a pretty confident cook…but am worried. Do you think I’ll have troubles following directions? I think if I would have just made it without worrying I would have been fine!
    Also, how would you suggest breaking up the steps if I wanted to space it out a bit? And how far in advance could I peep it? I’ve never had anything close to a problem with your recipes and just love everything I have tried! Thank you for all you do for your readers

    • Mel says:

      Hey Bryn – I think the key is not overmixing the mousse layers. If you read through all the comments, that’s the key. I’ve made this several times with no issues and have updated the recipe with some notes to help. You could definitely make all the mousse layers a day in advance and refrigerate (although the chocolate layer may be a bit harder to spread). Having said that, I’d hate for you to have issues! I’ve never tried using a fudge sauce to mix in with the cream so I can’t say how that would work.

      • Bryn says:

        Thank you! I think I can I think I can I think I can!

        • Bryn says:

          Oh Mel! This ended up being so much easier than I had anticipated. Each layer came together easily and the end result was stunning. At first bite several people commented on how rich it was…but finished their slices :). Rave reviews and already a request for a future bday party. Thank you for another great, tried and true, never fail recipe.

        • Mel says:

          Oh phew! I’m so glad it worked out and everyone loved it!

  34. Emily says:

    After reading through all the comments, I made sure to watch my peanut butter mousse very carefully while I was mixing. I stopped it and checked it after just a couple of seconds of mixing, and I thought it wasn’t thick enough, so I turned the mixer back on for another second or so…and bam–grainy! (Not actually grainy; just separated so it appears “grainy.”) I’m really not exaggerating the amount of time it took to start separating. And it was also too thin. (After reading other comments that said mixing for the full five minutes didn’t help, I didn’t want to try that.)

    I started experimenting to see if I could fix it. I mixed in some powdered sugar on a low speed (probably about 1/2 a cup–I didn’t measure) and that helped bring it together really well. Then I stirred in some extra peanut butter (about 1/3 cup) by hand with a whisk, to help counteract the sweetness of the extra sugar, thicken it up, and of course, to add more peanut butter flavor. It worked like a dream! My mousse still could have been a little thicker (after it was out of the fridge for a few minutes, it started to collapse just a little bit), but overall it worked just fine and was delicious.

    After the issues I had with the peanut butter mousse, I decided to try something different with the chocolate mousse. First, I whipped the cream and sugar up by themselves until I got stiff peaks. Then I removed the whipped cream from my mixer bowl and whipped the melted chocolate (still warm to the touch but not hot) and the cream cheese together. (I totally forgot about the vanilla, but I would have added that to the cream before whipping if I had remembered.) Then I folded the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. It worked perfectly. Next time, I would try the same thing with the peanut butter mousse–whipping the cream, mixing the other ingredients separately, then folding together. It does dirty one more bowl, but I think it’s worth it to get this recipe perfect!

    Mel, I wonder if the issue might have to do with different mixers? I’ve noticed you use a Bosch, and I (and probably many other readers) use a KitchenAid.

    • Mel says:

      Hey Emily – thanks for leaving such a detailed comment! I think you may be right – mixer (and the speed) may have something to do with it.

  35. Alex T. says:

    I would really like to try this recipe, but we don’t have cream cheese around here and I was wondering what could I use instead. Would mascarpone cheese work?

  36. Deepa says:

    Mel do you think nutella would be a good substitute to PB ? As an immigrant, i never ate PB growing up and im still unsure about my feelings towards it. Has anyone here tried substituting Nutella…?

    • Mel says:

      You’d have to experiment; I haven’t tried nutella and I think it might affect the consistency. If you try it, I’d cut down on the sugar since nutella is sweeter than PB. Good luck if you try it.

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