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Candy Bar Cake

Chocolate cake layers baked on a shortbread cookie crust, filled with peanut butter nougat, roasted peanuts and salted caramel, and topped with a whipped peanut butter frosting and a chocolate drip. 

 

 

Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes
Author Courtney Rich

Ingredients

FOR THE SHORTBREAD CRUST

  • 1/3 cup (66.6 g) granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (169.5 g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.8 g) Kosher salt

FOR THE CAKE

  • 2 cups (240 g)all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (375 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (88.5 g) dark cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ( 3 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) Kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (236 g) hot water or hot coffee

FOR THE NOUGAT (adapted from Milk Bar)

  • 4 tablespoons (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (44.25 g) water
  • 6 tablespoons (75 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (44.25 g) water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup (125 g) creamy Skippy peanut butter
  • 1 cup (150 g) chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.8 g) Kosher salt

FOR THE CARAMEL

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (59 g) water
  • 1 teaspoons (18.75 g) corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup (77 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoons (5.6 g) kosher salt

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM

  • 1/4  cup (57.75 g) heavy cream cold
  • 5 cups (625 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups 3 sticks (339 g) unsalted butter slightly cold
  • 1 cup (250 g) creamy peanut butter I like Skippy
  • 1 tablespoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract
  • Generous pinch of coarse salt
  • *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 DRIP

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup (77 g) heavy whipping cream

Instructions

FOR THE SHORTBREAD CRUST

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line each pan with parchment and spray again. Set aside.

  2. Combine the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 1 to 2 minutes until creamy. Stir in the flour. If the mixture is too crumbly, you can add another tablespoon of butter.
  3. Evenly divide the shortbread cookie crumbs into each cake pan. Using the back of a spoon, press the shortbread cookie crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes.

FOR THE CAKE

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix for about 30 seconds.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and whisk for a few seconds.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Once all the wet ingredients are added, continue to mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another 15 to 30 seconds. Don't over beat this batter. It will be thin.
  5. Pour the batter evenly onto the already baked shortbread crusts (about 15 to 16 ounces of batter in each 8-inch pan or 12 ounces in each 6-inch pan). Bake the cake for 23 to 25 minutes.

FOR THE NOUGAT

  1. Combine the first measures of sugar (4 tablespoons) and water (3 tablespoons) in a small saucepan. Gently stir together until it feels like wet sand. Do the same thing with the second measures of sugar (6 tablespoons) and water (3 tablespoons) in another small saucepan.
  2. Place both saucepans on the stove and begin to heat them up. Heat the first saucepan (the one with 4 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons water) over medium heat. Heat the second saucepan (the one with 6 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons water) over medium low heat. Heat the first sugar water mixture to 115 degrees C (239 degrees F), keeping track of the temperature with an instant-read or candy thermometer.
  3. While the sugar is heating up, whip the egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until soft peaks form. If the egg whites reach medium soft peaks before the first sugar hits 115 degrees C (239 degrees F), slow your mixer down and let the sugar catch up. Or, if you notice that the sugar is nearly at 115 degrees C (239 degrees F) and the egg whites are still a ways from becoming soft peaks, turn the heat way down under the first measurement of sugar water. Ideally, you want the egg whites to reach a soft peak at the same time the sugar water hits 115 degrees C (239 degrees F).
  4. Once the first sugar measurement reaches this temperature, remove it from the heat and very carefully pour it into the egg whites while the mixer is on low. 
  5. When all of the sugar is successfully added to the egg whites, turn the mixer speed back up and turn the heat under the second sugar water mixture to medium. You know what this mixture of sugar water to reach 120 degrees C (248 degrees F). Once it reaches this temperature, remove it from the heat and very carefully pour it into the egg white mixture. Let the egg white mixture whip until cool. 
  6. Once the egg white mixture has reached room temperature, turn the mixer off and fold in the peanut butter and chopped peanuts. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 

FOR THE CARAMEL

  1. Mix sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring the water and sugar mixture to boil over medium heat, but DO NOT STIR. (Stirring encourages crystallization). Let the mixture cook until it caramelizes into a golden brown color. It happens quickly, so keep an eye on it.
  3. Remove the caramelized sugar syrup from the heat and slowly mix in the cream. Pour in just a tiny bit at a time, especially at the beginning, and mix to combine. You can start adding more and more as you go along.
  4. Mix in salt and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  5. Set the caramel sauce to the side and let cool to room temperature before using.

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM

  1. In a bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and peanut butter. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 45 seconds.

  2. Add the sifted powdered sugar to the bowl and mix in, slowly at first until incorporated, then increasing the mixer speed to high. Blend in the vanilla extract, salt and heavy whipping cream and continue to whip on high speed until very fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

  3. With a wooden spoon, mix frosting to remove air bubbles.

FOR THE DRIP

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, pour the cream over the chocolate chips and heat for about 45-60 seconds. Stir, and if needed, heat for another 30 seconds to melt the chocolate chips completely. Let cool slightly before using.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Spread a small dollop of frosting on your cake board. Place the first cake layer on the board, with the shortbread cookie crust on the bottom.
  2. Spread about half of the nougat filling on top of the cake layer. Make sure to get eye level with the cake to ensure it is level. Drizzle some of the salted caramel over the nougat.
  3. Place the second cake layer, shortbread cookie crust on the bottom, on top of the nougat and caramel. Repeat step 2.
  4. Place the final cake layer, shortbread cookie crust on the bottom, on top of the second layer of nougat and caramel. If the cake feels too unstable to crumb coat, place the naked cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes to set the fillings and stabilize the cake.
  5. You'll then spread a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake to lock in any crumbs. This is called the crumb coat. Freeze the cake for 10 to 15 minutes to ensure the crumbs get locked into this coat of frosting. After the frosting is set, continue to frost the cake with the remaining peanut butter frosting. 
  6. After the cake is frosted, chill it in the freezer for another 1o to 15 minutes before adding the chocolate drip.