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Chocolate Peanut Butter Crazy Cake

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close up shot of a slice of Chocolate Peanut Butter Crazy Cake on a spatula
This easy depression-era chocolate peanut butter crazy cake comes together with basic pantry staples and comes out moist and decadent.
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Table of Contents
  1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Crazy Cake Ingredients
  2. Substitutions And Additions
  3. How To Make This Chocolate Peanut Butter Crazy Cake Recipe
  4. How To Serve
  5. Storing a Wacky Cake
  6. Why We Love This Recipe
  7. More Recipes You’ll Love
  8. JUMP TO RECIPE
  9. Peanut Butter Recipes
  10. Apple Dessert Recipes
  11. Chocolate Dessert Recipes
  12. Butter Cake Recipes

This chocolate peanut butter crazy cake, also known as Wacky Cake or Depression Cake, is a variation of a simple, no-egg, no-milk, no-butter cake recipe that became popular during the Great Depression due to the scarcity of these ingredients. A super moist chocolate cake topped with dreamy peanut butter frosting makes this cake the ideal choice for an easy dessert.

close up shot of a slice of Chocolate Peanut Butter Crazy Cake on a spatula

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crazy Cake Ingredients

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crazy Cake raw ingredients that are labeled
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The cake features a rich chocolate flavor with hints of vanilla and a touch of tanginess from apple cider vinegar.

The peanut butter icing is smooth, sweet, and nutty, creating a perfect balance of flavors and textures.

Together, they create a decadent treat that’s sure to satisfy anyone’s craving.

To make this depression cake recipe, you’ll need:

For The Cake:

  • 1½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water

For The Peanut Butter Icing:

  • 8 tablespoons (½ cup) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup of peanut butter, creamy
  • 3 tablespoons of half-and-half cream, room temperature
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Substitutions And Additions

ICING: You could skip the peanut butter icing and use your favorite frosting instead, such as chocolate frosting or vanilla frosting.

Or you could leave off the icing altogether and dust the cake with powdered sugar.

DAIRY-FREE: This recipe can be made completely dairy-free with a nut version of half & half (almond, coconut, etc.) or skipping the icing with a dusting of powdered sugar.

SPRINKLES: For an extra crazy cake, add colorful sprinkles to the top.

CHOCOLATE CHIPS: You could top the peanut butter frosting with a sprinkle of chocolate chips or peanut butter chips. 

LEMON JUICE: Lemon juice could be substituted for the vinegar at a ratio of 1:2.

For this recipe, one teaspoon of vinegar can be replaced by two teaspoons of lemon juice.

PRO TIP:

Ingredients at room temperature mix together more easily and evenly, which can affect the cake’s texture for the better.

How To Make This Chocolate Peanut Butter Crazy Cake Recipe

Let’s get started by first making the batter and baking the cake before topping it with frosting.

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray an 8×8 square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. All of the cake ingredients will be mixed in the baking dish. 

STEP TWO: Add the flour, cocoa powder, white sugar, baking soda, and salt to the baking dish. Whisk the dry ingredients together until well combined.

STEP THREE: Using a dry ladle or small measuring cup, make two small round impressions and one larger impression in the dry ingredients.

STEP FOUR: Pour vinegar into one of the small impressions.

Pour the vanilla into the second small impression, and pour the vegetable oil into the largest impression.

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

The vinegar is a must in this recipe, it reacts with the baking soda to give the cake the desired texture, doing the work eggs would do in other recipes. The cake does not come out tasting like vinegar!

STEP FIVE: Pour water over all of the ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to stir all the ingredients together, making sure to get into the corners.

Stir until well incorporated and no dry streaks are visible.

PRO TIP:

If there are bubbles in your wet batter, gently tap your cake pan on the counter to release the bubbles.

STEP SIX: Bake the cake on the middle rack in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool completely before icing.

PRO TIP:

Keep a close eye on the cake at the 30-minute mark as you don’t want to overbake it.

STEP SEVEN: Cream the butter and creamy peanut butter until no streaks of butter are visible.

Use a stand mixer or a medium-sized mixing bowl and a handheld mixer on medium-high speed.

STEP EIGHT: Lower the electric mixer speed to low and add the vanilla and half and half. Mix for another 30 seconds.

STEP NINE: Keeping the mixer speed on low, slowly add the powdered sugar half a cup at a time.

Once all the powdered sugar has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and mix until the icing is smooth, about another 45 seconds to 1 minute.

STEP TEN: Using a silicone spatula, frost the cake.

How To Serve

Serve this chocolate peanut butter cake for every day or a special occasion.

Add a scoop of our vanilla ice cream on the side and whipped cream and hot fudge sauce on top to make this cake extra fancy.

I guarantee this cake will get great reviews from all those peanut butter lovers.

This cake is a twist on the original chocolate crazy cake.

For another crazy cake recipe, try the vanilla crazy cake version.

Storing a Wacky Cake

MAKE AHEAD: If you want to get a head start on your baking, you can prepare the cake ahead of time.

Simply bake the cake as instructed, let it cool completely, and then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

You can store it at room temperature for up to two days. When you’re ready to serve, whip up the peanut butter icing and frost the cake.

IN THE FRIDGE: Place your cake in an airtight container to prevent it from absorbing odors from the fridge and to keep it from drying out.

Refrigerated, the cake can last five to seven days.

When you’re ready to serve the cake again, let come to room temperature, as this can help improve its flavor and texture.

PRO TIP:

If you’ve already sliced the cake but want to store the remaining pieces, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the cut sides to help keep it moist. Then, follow the above storage tips.

IN THE FREEZER: This wacky cake freezes exceptionally well, making it a good option for extending its shelf life.

To freeze, first allow the cake to cool completely. Then, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil or place it in a freezer-safe container.

Properly stored, it can last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature before serving.

NOTE: If your cake is frosted, let it freeze fully first, uncovered, and then wrap it. You can freeze your cake in slices or whole.

Why We Love This Recipe

CLASSIC FLAVOR COMBINATION: The rich, chocolaty cake perfectly complements the creamy and nutty peanut butter icing.

SIMPLE: With clear, step-by-step instructions and readily available ingredients, you can confidently bake chocolate cake that’s will impress.

PERFECT FOR CHOCOLATE LOVERS: The cake itself has a moist, tender crumb thanks to the eggless recipe. The deep, dark flavor of cocoa provides a chocolatey base that’s not overly sweet.

close up shot of a slice of Chocolate Peanut Butter Crazy Cake on a plate

This vintage chocolate peanut butter crazy cake is made without eggs or milk yet comes out so delicious and rich.

It’s an excellent choice for those looking for a quick, easy dessert that accommodates dietary restrictions or shortages of typical baking ingredients.

This version maintains the simplicity and frugality of the original wacky cake while offering a delicious twist that peanut butter and chocolate lovers appreciate.

Bring the taste of history to your table, and your family will go crazy for it.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I use lemon juice instead of vinegar in the cake?

Lemon juice could be substituted for the vinegar at a ratio of 1:2. For this recipe, one teaspoon of vinegar can be replaced by two teaspoons of lemon juice.

Can you freeze this chocolate peanut butter depression-era cake?

This cake freezes well. It can be stored in plastic wrap in the freezer for four to six months.

Is this wacky cake recipe vegan?

Since the cake is made without eggs or milk, if you leave off the peanut butter frosting because it has butter and half & half in it, this cake is a great vegan cake option.

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close up shot of a slice of Chocolate Peanut Butter Crazy Cake on a spatula

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crazy Cake

5 from 1 vote
This easy depression-era chocolate peanut butter crazy cake comes together with basic pantry staples and comes out moist and decadent.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 10

Ingredients
  

Cake

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup water

Peanut Butter Icing

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (½ cup)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons half and half, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray an 8×8 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (all of the cake ingredients will be mixed in the baking dish).
  • Add the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt to the baking dish. Whisk the dry ingredients together until well combined.
  • Using a dry ladle or small measuring cup, make 2 small round impressions and 1 larger impression in the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the vinegar into 1 of the small impressions. Pour the vanilla into the second small impression, and pour the vegetable oil into the largest impression. Pour the water over all of the ingredients.
  • Use a wooden spoon to stir all the ingredients together, making sure to get into the corners. Stir until all of the ingredients are well incorporated, and no dry streaks are visible.
  • Bake the cake on the middle rack for 30 to 35 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before icing.
  • Using a stand mixer or a medium-sized mixing bowl and a handheld mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter and creamy peanut butter until no streaks of butter are visible.
  • Lower the mixer speed to low and add the vanilla and half and half. Mix for another 30 seconds.
  • Keeping the mixer speed on low, slowly add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time. Once all powdered sugar has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and mix until the icing is smooth, about another 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Using a silicone spatula, frost the cake.

Notes

  • The vinegar is a must in this recipe, it reacts with the baking soda to give the cake the desired texture, doing the work eggs would do in other recipes. The cake does not come out tasting like vinegar!
  • If there are bubbles in your wet batter, gently tap your cake pan on the counter to release the bubbles.
  • Keep a close eye on the cake at the 30-minute mark, as you don’t want to overbake it.

Nutrition

Calories: 437kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 349mg | Potassium: 228mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 296IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 2mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

This recipe was developed, tested, cooked and photographed by the Spaceships Kitchen. From our dinner table to yours, we hope you think it's out of this world!

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  1. Chris says

    Hey there I noticed the powdered sugar for the frosting isn’t included in the recipe or written tutorial. How much powdered sugar is needed?

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