I’m sure you’ve seen the zebra cake around the internet at some point in your surfing life. I discovered it when only two results showed up in a yahoo search circa 2000, after I followed a photo of it. Amazing how there are now thousands of zebra cakes on the internet! That said, I’m 100% sure you’ve seen peanut butter cup brownies before, so no need to touch on those.
Before I get to either, a little preface.
The above is a transitional header and name (desserts and line drives was too long). I still haven’t decided where I’m going to go with this, but I got sick of looking at that ugly, old header.
Back in January of 2011, my computer crashed. The hard drive was annihilated. I lost all of my photos. Some of those photos were of several amazing and somewhat laborious, treats, three of the treats that I especially mourn to this day. One was a beautiful Tourte Milanese – layers of colorful, roasted red peppers, spinach, cheese, ham and softly scrambled, herbed eggs encased in golden puff pastry. The other was a Gateau Basque, best described as a mix of a cake, cookie and pie, from the Basque region of France, filled with luscious almond pastry cream and homemade cherry jam. The third was a 12-layer milk chocolate macadamia nougatine torte that I can’t even remember the recipe for because I didn’t write it down.
They were all so lovely, aesthetically, and exquisite in flavor, that I did everything I could with the dead hard drive, bringing it from place to place, to see what they could retrieve from it.
Wouldn’t you know it, they were able to get most everything off of it EXCEPT the laborious treats and the Tourte Milanese, 12-Layer Nougatine Torte, and Gateua Basque.
why? Why? WHY?
I still hold on to that drive with the hope that, miraculously, someone will be able to find and extract even one photo of each. The truth is, the three that slay me were labor intensive o varying degrees, and I haven’t had the time or motivation to really dig into recreating all of them. Plus, I don’t often get good photos, but by some stroke of luck, the photos of these three extravagant goodies, including the prep photos, were some of the best I’ve ever taken. Again..
why? Why? WHY?
Here’s the kicker, a group of photos of a zebra cake I made in 2007, were all there, well, most of them (most of the prep photos didn’t make it) in perfect condition. These photos were from a time before a food blog was even a twinkle in my eye. Back then, I took quick shots with a point and shoot under kitchen lighting, and sometimes I used (gasp) a flash.
That said, they were also able to pull the above 2009 peanut butter cup brownies off the drive. One problem, though..just the one photo you see above, when there were originally 10 full size photos, including steps. Plus, this one had been cropped already.
Barring the photo quality, I decided to post it anyway. As I mentioned in my last post, I haven’t had the time to cook or bake anything really blog worthy, unless you consider boiled, boxed pasta with a simple tomato sauce and sloppy tuna sandwiches on wheat toast, blog worthy. In other words, I haven’t felt like spending hours sifting through 100 photos of sloppy tuna salad, and then hours of editing the best of the bad.
At least the ugly overnight oatmeal had a little pizzazz with the use of an almost empty peanut butter jar, and the near endless possibilities of add-ins.
So, here’s my zebra cake, in all its ancient point and shoot glory. I love the way the stripes came out, and it was quite moist and tasty, therefore – blog worthy. However, for some reason I cannot recollect nor fathom why I placed the zebra cake slices on top of a cheap cake turntable. It looks weird. Please look at the cool, zebra stripes and blur out the weird looking cake turntable. I’m uhh, kind of embarrassed!
So, please excuse these old zebra cake photos, but love this zebra cake. Not only is it cool to look at, but it’s moist, delectable and easy to make.
Having said all that, I want you all to make this zebra cake and impress everyone you serve it to It’ll look better on your plate and table than it does in these antiquated photos. Oh, and make the peanut butter cup brownies too! You will love them!
How to Make a Zebra Cake
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped..or chocolate chips
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 3 large eggs
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 10 regular size Reese’s peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. I line the pan with foil or parchment paper, making sure there is overhang to use as handles to lift out the brownies, Spray/grease foil or parchment if you use this method.
- Microwave chopped chocolate and butter for about 45 seconds. If not mostly melted, microwave for 20 more seconds. Stir until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder and espresso powder. Set aside. OR, melt in a double boiler.
- Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, peanut butter and salt until combined. Whisk the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Stir in the flour until just combined. Fold chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups into batter. Pour mixture into pan, spread evenly and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.
- Bake approximately 35-40 minutes. Brownies will be slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out mostly clean. Cool to room temperature for about 2 hours. Cut into 1″ squares. Store in a tightly sealed container; preferably in the refrigerator.
- Chocolate and Vanilla Zebra Cake
- 2¼ cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil or coconut oil.. or butter*
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
- 1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream (milk is fine too)
- Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- * If using butter, cream it together with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until each one is fully incorporated. Add vanilla extract. If using oil, beat together the eggs, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy, then add vanilla extract.
- Alternate adding the flour mixture with the yogurt or sour cream or milk, starting and ending with the flour. Do not over mix.
- Now - This is where it all begins with the batter to make the zebra cake pattern.
- Here's a video that shows you the zebra cake method, and another one using a spoon, which is how I do it, AND one more for good measure, since my step-by-step photos weren't recovered. I didn't use pastry bags, (good idea, though), just tablespoons and less batter of each color per drop than what you see in the video, to produce stripes that are closer together. The below instructions explain how I did it.
- Divide the batter in half, into two separate bowls, and add about 3-5 T of dark cocoa (I use Dutch Processed) to one half of the batter. If the white batter is too runny, add 3-5 tablespoons of flour to it. You want the white and chocolate batter to be close in viscosity.
- To start..you'll be 'layering' 1 to 3 tablespoons of each batter, right on top of one another into a lightly greased 8 or 9-inch cake pan.(I add a parchment circle, and lightly grease that too). I used an 8-inch round cake pan.
- Starting with the white batter drop 1-3 tablespoons on the bottom of the pan, then drop 1-3 tablespoons of the chocolate batter right on top of the white batter, in the middle, then 1-3 tablespoons of white on top of the chocolate, then repeat with the white batter in the middle of chocolate batter. Keep alternating batters in the center of each until you've used up both batters. It will look lopsided at several points..spreading more to one side of the pan, but by the time you're close to finished, it'll start to even out. It should look like a bullseye of white and dark batter, as you can see in the photo right below this recipe
- The less tablespoons of batter you use, the closer together the stripes will be. I used 2 tablespoons batter of each per drop..but use up to 4 for thicker stripes.
- Bake in a preheated 350F oven for anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes. A toothpick or skewer inserted in the center of the cake, should come out clean when it's done.
- Try this with other flavors/colors, like matcha with the chocolate, pistachio paste, or raspberry syrup or ground, dehydrated raspberries. You can make this cake a kaleidoscope of stripe. Let your imagination run wild!
butter* - I've heard that all butter prevents you from getting a tight zebra pattern like mine. It will still 'zebra', but not like what you see here.