Better Than Anything Cake – moist chocolate cake layers, covered in caramel, topped with whipped cream, toffee candy, more caramel, and chocolate caramel buttercream.
Better Than Anything Cake
Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way: I’m well aware that the original name for this cake is, Better Than Sex Cake. I even grew up calling it by that name. However, as my almost teenage son dug in to my homemade version of this cake the other day, he asked, “what are you calling it, mom?” I had totally planned on calling it Better Than Sex Cake, but when I looked him in the eyes and started to say the name, I just couldn’t do it and instead said, “it’s my new Better Than Anything Cake.”
I guess I just felt like there was no need to explain to my 12-year-old that cake could be better than sex. Maybe we’ll change the name when my kids are older, but for now, it’s Better Than Anything Cake
Alright, let’s get back to the cake!
What is Better Than Anything Cake?
Do you remember this cake from your childhood? It was a staple in my house. However, back then we were using a Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix, store bought caramel, Cool Whip, and crushed Heath to create this well-known cake. This new version is completely homemade (well, minus the crushed candy bars).
Moist Chocolate Cake
This chocolate cake has a similar texture to my Malt Chocolate Cake. It’s incredibly tender and moist, packed with chocolate flavor, but it’s not as rich and dark as my Dark Chocolate Cake you’ll see in a lot of recipes on here. I went with this other chocolate cake for the layers because it’s more stable and better holds the caramel, while still being strong enough to stack the layers.
To get this beautiful volume and height in the cake, make sure to beat the butter, sugar, and eggs really well at the beginning – we’re talking 3 to 5 minutes! You’ll notice the color and texture lighten – that’s a sign you’re doing things right. Of course, once we add dry ingredients, we turn the speed down and only mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated. And then we add a mixture of vinegar and baking soda at the end to help our cake rise so tall.
How to Make Moist Cakes from Scratch
Don’t forget to follow my go-to tips for getting your cakes to rise and bake well:
- Preheat your oven for 30 minutes prior to baking.
- Use good quality pans like Fat Daddio.
- Spray your pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
- Don’t overmix your cake batter once you add the dry ingredients.
- Use room temperature wet ingredients.
- Use fresh baking powder.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.
How to Make Homemade Caramel
To make homemade salted caramel, you actually don’t have to be too hands-on. In fact, I want you to keep your hands off for the majority of the time!
- You’ll start by combining the sugar, water, and corn syrup (or honey) over the stove on medium heat.
- Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves and then step back!
- Allow the mixture to boil and cook. Stirring the sugar mixture at this point will encourage crystallization and we don’t want that!
- It will take a few minutes for the mixture to change color, but once it does, stay close by.
- You’re looking for the mixture to turn a dark golden brown, amber color. Check the pictures HERE for guidance.
- Once you’ve reached the right color and your mixture is about 380 degrees F., you’re ready to start SLOWLY adding warm heavy whipping cream.
- Using warm heavy whipping cream will decrease the chance the mixture hardens.
- Once you’ve added all the cream, you can stir in the vanilla and salt.
- Allow the mixture to cool completely before using in your buttercreams and cakes.
Whipped Cream from Scratch
Have you made whipped cream from scratch yet? This simple recipe is a total game changer and I can promise you, you’ll never go back to Cool Whip or canned whipped cream again. Whipped cream from scratch is truly one of the best things life has to offer. Follow the simple steps below and you’ll have this creamy goodness ready in less than 10 minutes.
- Heavy Whipping Cream – look for a high fat heavy whipping cream. I always use Darigold 40% Heavy Whipping Cream.
- Chilled Stainless Steel Bowl – for a quick whip, place a stainless steel bowl in your freezer for about 15 minutes before you make the whipped cream. This isn’t necessary, but it definitely helps speed up the process.
- When to Stabilize the Cream – I only use a stabilizer like E-Z Gel when I’m using whipped cream as a filling in a cake. Otherwise, if you’re making whipped cream as a topping for another type of dessert, you won’t need to stabilize it. E-Z Gel is often found at grocery stores, Walmart, or online. If you can’t find it, you can also stabilize the whipped cream with unflavored gelatin. Just follow the instructions on the package for “blooming” the gelatin.
- Powdered Sugar and Vanilla – in addition to the cream and the E-Z Gel, you’ll also need a little powdered sugar and vanilla extract to sweeten up the flavor.
Chocolate Caramel Buttercream
It’s hard to believe anything could be better than chocolate buttercream, but I’m about to tell you that chocolate buttercream with caramel is above and beyond your wildest dreams! We have the silky, smooth texture of my chocolate buttercream, with the salty, delicious goodness of my homemade caramel. The two are the perfect pair!
Love this textured buttercream look? Click HERE to buy my Texture Scraper Set.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
To get a light and fluffy homemade buttercream frosting, I have a detailed post: HOW TO MAKE THE BEST BUTTERCREAM to give you in depth instruction for making your buttercream unreal! Here’s a quick overview.
- Sift your powdered sugar
- Use slightly cold butter and mix on its own for 2 to 3 minutes
- Use heavy whipping cream
- Beat for 5 minutes
- Stir by hand
You’ll want to check out the post linked above for more details on each step to make sure you get the best buttercream frosting. And remember, these steps can be used for any buttercream recipe on my blog.
IMPORTANT For chocolate buttercream specifically, remember to heat the cream and chocolate together first. You’ll then stir the mixture until it becomes a smooth ganache. Once the ganache has cooled slightly, you’ll add the mixture to the butter and continue making the buttercream according to instructions.
This recipe also calls for a 1/2 cup of the homemade caramel. Make sure the caramel is room temperature before using.
The crushed candy inside and on top of this Better Than Anything Cake is Heath Bars. As a kid, I used to get the job of unwrapping the candy bars, placing them in a ziplock bag, and smashing them into bite size pieces with a rolling pin. Nowadays, you can just buy the Heath Bars already crushed up in the same aisle where you’ll find baking chips at your grocery store.
Other Candy Options
Can’t find Heath Bars or just want to switch it up? Here are a few other candy options that would pair so well with this cake recipe.
- 100 Grand
Better Than Anything Cake
Chocolate cake layers, covered with salted caramel, whipped cream, toffee candy and chocolate caramel buttercream.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE
- 3/4 cup (169.5 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs at room temperature
- 3 1/4 cups (373.75 g) cake flour
- 3/4 cup (75 g) dark cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (8 g) salt
- 2 cups (480 g) buttermilk at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (21 g) white distilled vinegar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (10 g) baking soda
- 1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream at room temperature
FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (240 g) water
- 2 teaspoons (14 g) light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 cups (360 g) heavy whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons (8.4 g) pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
- 1 cup (240 g) heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup (100g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon E-Z Gel
FOR THE CHOCOLATE CARAMEL BUTTERCREAM
- 1/4 cup (60 g) heavy whipping cream
- 8 ounces dark chocolate
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter slightly cold
- 5 cups (625 g) powdered sugar measured then sifted
- 1/2 cup salted caramel recipe above
- *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra 1/2 batch.
FOR THE GARNISH AND FILLING
- 2 cups crushed Heath Bars
FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch round pans with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for another minute.
Add the eggs, one at a time, being sure to mix and scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Once all of the eggs are added, continue to beat on medium-high speed for about two mintues, until the mixture gets lighter in color and bigger in volume.
With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1 cup of the buttermilk. Continue with another 1/3 of the flour, the second half of the buttermilk and then the remaining flour mixture. Stir until combined.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda. The mixture will bubble. Add the mixture to the cake batter and stir on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for another 20 seconds.
Fold in the sour cream until no streaks remain.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans (21 ounces in each of the 8-inch pans). Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.
Allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.
FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL
Mix the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Bring the mixture to boil, but DO NOT STIR! (Stirring encourages crystallization). Let the mixture cook until it turns to a golden brown/amber color. It happens quickly, so keep an eye on it.
Remove the caramelized sugar syrup from the heat and very slowly stir in the cream, pouring it in little by little, to temper the cream and sugar syrup. If you pour it in all at once, your sugar will turn into hard candy. You can start adding more and more as you go along.
Once the cream is mixed in, add the salt and vanilla. Stir to combine and then set aside to cool to room temperature before using.
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
Place a stainless steel bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to making the whipped cream.
When the bowl is chilled, combine the whipped, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Using whisk attachments on your hand mixer or your stand mixer, beat the ingredients on high. As you beat the whipped cream, gradually add the E-Z Gel.
Beat mixture until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE CARAMEL BUTTERCREAM
Heat the cream and chocolate chips together in the microwave for about 45 to 60 seconds. Stir the mixture until the chips are melted. If the chocolate isn't melting enough, heat the mixture again for another 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool. We want the ganache to be close to room temperature before adding it to the butter.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high until it's light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the ganache mixture, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat until silky, smooth.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the caramel. Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat the buttercream for about 3 to 5 minutes.
Using a fork or the back of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the three cake layers. Try to avoid poking the holes all the way through the cake.
Cover each cake layer with about 1/3 cup caramel. Use a spoon to spread the caramel and help push it into the holes you've created.
Place the first cake layer top side up, in the center of the cake board. Pipe a rim of buttercream around the edge of the cake. Gently spread 1/2 of the whipped cream over the cake layer. Sprinkle with crushed Heath bar candies and then a drizzle of caramel.
Repeat for second cake layer.
Place the final cake layer, top side down, on the second layer of filling.
Apply a thin layer of buttercream around the cake. Freeze the cake for 15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
Once the crumb coat is set, continue frosting the cake with the remaining buttercream. Decorate with remaining candy and caramel.