Peanut Butter Caramel Coffee Cake + Cinnamon Streusel + Dulce De Leche Whipped Cream

Coffee cake has always reminded me of funerals.

Okay, I know that sounds super depressing, but it's true. Fortunately, nothing has happened to me personally that has led coffee cake to remind me of funerals, but for some reason, Barefoot Contessa's Sour Cream Coffee Cake is my mom's go-to cake to bring to the family of someone who has passed away.
Ironically, it's also her "just gave birth" cake. I guess that makes up for the morbidness of the whole funeral part.

I've never really been a huge fan of coffee cake, besides the streusel part. It actually makes perfect sense because I don't really like cake at all-- I'm a huge icing fan. Anytime there's a cake involved, I try to get a piece with the most icing and least cake (to avoid being wasteful obviously), and then eat all of the icing and leave all of the cake. So, I guess the fact that coffee cake is just an icing-less cake has never really appealed to me.
Over Christmas break, my grandmother had a coconut coffee cake out for breakfast one day. I only tried it for the coconut, and I ended up LOVING it. Even without the coconut part, it was still good. Come to think of it, I actually think that it had icing on it... maybe that's why I liked it. Regardless, it inspired me to make a coffee cake of my own.

I think everyone at some point in their life had to be told the news that coffee cake actually doesn't have any coffee in it. I found out when my mom was making one in the kitchen (not sure if it was for a funeral or not), and I asked her where the coffee was. My 10-year-old-coffee-addict self was extremely upset... and a little confused on why there was no coffee in coffee cake. But as I've grown older I've realized that it's actually a perfectly valid reason to eat a piece of cake (or two) in the morning-- or at any time really. Coffee cake is pretty much just as buttery and sugary as any other cake I know, but just without the icing. I guess it's the same as the muffin vs. cupcake debate.
Here's the thing, though... I love muffins. The hearty texture and flavor of them are just way better than a cupcake. So I feel like muffins should have icing on them, and then be called a cupcake. Think about it... make a blueberry muffin, top it with a berry, orange, lemon, chocolate, cream cheese, or plain vanilla icing, and it will be like the best cupcake you've ever had. Or maybe cupcakes just need to start coming with more mix-ins. I don't know... all I know is that this coffee cake is GOOD.

I didn't want this to be anything like my mom's funeral (or newborn) cake, which is delicious, but I just wanted to create something different. I wanted this cake to be sweet and rich and packed with streusel in every corner... and I think I delivered, too. I'm definitely a tad obsessed with peanut butter, and you can't really go wrong with caramel- ever. So I put those two together, loaded the cake with cinnamon streusel, and topped it with a dulce de leche whipped cream to make an insanely flavorful coffee cake. Plus, peanut butter always reminds me of the morning, so once I add a cup of coffee it'll make the perfect breakfast.

Let's talk about this whipped cream real quick. I wanted to make homemade dulce de leche, but if I'm being honest, I was lazy and didn't want to baby the condensed milk as it boiled. So I bought some from the store which is just as good... and I think it's perfectly acceptable considering everything else is baked from scratch.

When I was younger and just started to cook, whipped cream was my specialty. I remember the first time I realized that you don't have to just make vanilla whipped cream: A couple of family-friends were over for dinner, and I was in charge of dessert. So I was making my normal vanilla whipped cream when one of our friends suggested I put instant espresso powder in it. I was so amazed at the outcome that I began putting all sorts of different ingredients in whipped cream: blueberries, almond extract, cocoa powder, chocolate flakes, lemon/lime/orange zest or juice, etc...
But I've never put dulce de leche in it before. This is by far the best whipped cream I've ever had. Honestly, it's so good and only takes 4 ingredients and less than 5 minutes. So you have no excuse to not make it.

Peanut Butter Caramel Coffee Cake w/ Cinnamon Streusel & Dulce de Leche Cream

For the cake:
  • 1 stick softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs (room temp)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (sifted)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
For the stresel:
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter- cut into cubes
For the peanut butter caramel:
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (room temp)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
For the dulce de leche cream:
  • 3/4 cup cold heavy whipping cream 
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche 
Preheat the oven to 350ยบ. 
For the caramel: Heat the brown sugar in a sauce pan for a few minutes over medium heat. Add all other caramel ingredients, and stir until smooth and thickened slightly. Let cool for 5 minutes off heat, pour into a container, and set in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

For the cake: Mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together and set aside Beat the peanut butter, butter, and sugar together in an electric mixer until creamy. Add in one egg at a time, then add the vanilla, salt, and sour cream. Mix until completely combined and fluffy (don't forget to scrape the sides). Add in the flour mixture in 1/2 cup at a time, while slowly mixing. Once all is combined, set in fridge for 15-20 minutes. 

For the streusel: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together using your hands to break apart the butter pieces, until all is combined; it will still be very floury.

Pour half of the cake batter into lightly greased bundt cake pan. Swirl in about 1/4 of the caramel using a toothpick to give it a marble effect. Spread a little less than half of the streusel mixture evenly on top. Spread the rest of the batter over the top, swirl in about 1/3 of what is left of the caramel in, and layer the rest of the streusel on top evenly. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let rest for at least an hour, or until completely cooled.

For the whipped cream: Whip the heavy cream alone until soft peaks form. Add all other ingredients and whip until medium-stiff peaks are formed. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Take a knife or small rubber spatuala to loosen the sides up of the cooled cake before flipping over to a tray/plate, streusel side up. The easiest way to me is to carefully flip it onto one platter and then onto another one so it ends up with the streusel side on top. Drizzle with leftover warmed caramel (loosen with a little heavy cream if needed), and serve with the whipped cream and a cup of hot coffee.

Cecilia A.


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