Milky Way Chocolate Cake

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It’s crazy how much you learn about a person when you work with them. One fun fact I learned about my senior from last year was that she loves Milky Way candy bars. Today is her birthday, and I wanted to make her a fabulous birthday cake. Using the chocolate-caramel-nougat goodness of Milky Ways as an inspiration, I decided to make her this Milky Way Chocolate Cake.

Chocolate Cake:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 cups strong black coffee, hot
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Nougat Filling:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 cups marshmallow fluff
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt)

Salted Caramel Buttercream:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce (above)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Milk Chocolate Ganache:

  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) heavy cream

Garnish:

  • 1 bag of fun sized milky way candy bars (chopped into thirds)

Prep Time:15 minutes

Bake Time: 64 minutes

Cool Time: 1 Hour

Assembly Time: 1 hour (30 minutes of cooling for crumb coat)

Servings: 20

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease four 9-inch round cake pans, and line/grease the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.

Begin by making the chocolate cake batter. In a very large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).

Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

For the Nougat Filling, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and add the marshmallow fluff, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it in the cake. You can do this leaving it at room temperature or you can pop it into the refrigerator to speed up the process. Be sure to give a stir occasionally as it cools.

For the salted caramel sauce, add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy saucepan (with a capacity of at least 2 or 3 quarts). Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. You’ll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, and that’s okay. Keep whisking and as it continues to cook, and they will melt back down. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. Add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously.Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel and whisk to incorporate. Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into your favorite glass jar, and let cool to room temperature. (You can refrigerate any left over sauce for up to 2 weeks).

While the cakes cool, make the frosting. Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.

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For the cake assembly, place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with half of the nougat filling and then spread a couple spoonfuls of the salted caramel sauce over top to evenly cover the nougat filling. Top with a second cake layer and cover with the remaining nougat filling and top with caramel sauce. Frost the cake with the salted caramel frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, until the frosting is set.

While the frosting sets, prepare the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Begin whisking the mixture in the center, gradually working your way outward until the ganache is completely smooth. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened slightly, but is still a pourable consistency.

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The garnish is the final step. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward and flow over the sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. Drizzle some additional salted caramel sauce over the top and side of the cake, and top with chopped milky way bars.

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Keep the cake refrigerated, removing it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to serving. For clean slices, run the cutting knife under hot water (and dry) just before cutting.

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