Smith Island Cake

I don't even know where to start in describing this cake. By far, it is the most time consuming of any dessert I have ever made (almost 4 hours). BUT, this is probably the most amazing, decadent cake I have ever put in my mouth. The cake itself is unbelievably moist and the peanut butter cups and chocolate icing are sinfully rich.

I made this yesterday for Hubby's office as a Merry Christmas to them. I have made it twice before this - his birthday 2 years ago and last year for Thanksgiving. Hubby actually found this recipe in an issue of Saveur magazine.

Smith Island Cake

8 large Reese's peanut butter cups, frozen
Nonstick cooking spray1⁄4 cup flour
1 18 1⁄4-oz. box yellow cake mix, preferably Duncan Hines
2 cups plus
3 tbsp. evaporated milk
16 tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄2 tsp. salt
4 eggs
6 cups confectioners' sugar
1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa

Pulse 4 peanut butter cups in a food processor into small chunks; transfer to a bowl. Pulse remaining peanut butter cups into a fine powder; transfer to another bowl. Chill both until ready to use.
Heat oven to 350°. Grease four 8" round cake pans (I only have 2 so this takes longer and means more cleaning) with cooking spray, dust with half the flour, and knock out any excess. Set aside.

Put cake mix, 1 1⁄2 cups evaporated milk, half the butter, vanilla, salt, eggs, and 1⁄3 cup water into a large bowl; beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 10–12 minutes. Divide half the batter between prepared cake pans (this basically equals a very full 3/4 cup per pan). Set remaining batter aside. Using the back of a spoon, spread out batter so that it covers the bottom of each pan, making it slightly thicker around the edges than in the middle.

Bake until cooked through and golden around edges, 12–14 minutes. Set aside to let cool slightly, then loosen cake layers with a knife and invert onto cooling racks. Wash and dry cake pans. Repeat process a second time with cooking spray and remaining flour and batter.

When all 8 cake layers have cooled, make the icing. Combine remaining milk, sugar, and cocoa in a medium pot; stir well, then add remaining butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter is melted and icing is shiny, 4–5 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Stir well.

Spread a cake layer with about 1⁄4 cup of icing; sprinkle with about 1 tbsp. powdered peanut butter cups. Top with another cake layer and repeat process to make 8 layers in all. Frost outside of cake with remaining icing; sprinkle top with peanut butter cup chunks.
Let sit for 2–3 hours before serving. (I actually prefer to stick it in the refrigerator right away and keep it there until about 10 minutes before serving). The cake can be stored for up to a week refrigerated in an airtight container.


  1. This sounds divine.
    I'm drooling reading the recipe. I don't think my waistline can handle it yet though. Still trying to recover from Christmas!

    Thanks for sharing though.



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