In my mind, the Snickers candy bar is the king of all candy. It has a perfect balance of nougat, caramel, peanuts, and chocolate. Luckily, Brendan also loves snickers, and asked for a snickers inspired birthday cake! The twist? He also wanted some cookie dough in there. So I made it happen….this cake has two peanut butter chocolate chip cookie layered between three, decadent chocolate cake layers. It’s a lot to take in…but I swear it all comes together when you take a bite 😀
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup strong black coffee, hot
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer:
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup all-vegetable Shortening
- 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 2 cups marshmallow fluff
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped
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
- 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce (above)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
Milk Chocolate Ganache:
- 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 ounces (½ cup) heavy cream
- Candied Peanuts, chopped snickers, and caramel drizzle
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 48 minutes
Cool Time: 1 Hour
Assembly Time: 1 hour (30 minutes of cooling for crumb coat)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 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 16 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs). Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
Next make the peanut butter cookie layers. Beat together the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add all other ingredients (excluding the chocolate chips), and mix until fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips last. Divide batter evenly between two, greased, nine in cake pans. Bake until the edges are just golden, about 15 minutes. Remove, and let the cookie cool in the pan for 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to fully cool.
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, peanut butter, peanuts, 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 the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy. 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. Add the salt and vanilla. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy. Add cream as needed.
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. Alternate cake and cookie layers, 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.
If you want to make the exterior of your cake smoother, you can add an additional layer of frosting on top of the crumb coat. The garnish is the final step. Drizzle caramel over the top and edges of the cake. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward, just to the edge of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. Drizzle some additional salted caramel sauce over the top of the cake, and top with peanuts and cut up snickers. I also piped on additional frosting swirls with a star tip.
I had some left over cookie and chocolate batter, so I decided to experiment with a deconstructed snickers tower. It basically is a mini square tower of the cake 😀 It tasted wonderful. There is a great textural component from the nougat and peanuts, and the peanut butter cookie was a pleasant surprise. The star of the show is definitely the salted caramel sauce, and the caramel buttercream. I love the hint of salt from the caramel and peanuts, it really balances out the sweetness of this cake. I was really happy with the way this cake turned out, and loved the final product. If I were to make this cake again, I would consider toasting or candying the peanuts, just to add a little more pizzazz.