Last week my husband needed to bring a dessert to a men’s BBQ he was attending at our church. Instead of searching through my recipe books for something to make, I decided to come up with my own creation. What better time to try something new then on a group of hungry men?
I wanted to make something that would give you a sugar comma just by looking at it and would incorporate some of my favorite flavors; chocolate, peanuts and caramel. With that type of flavor combination, the first thing that came to mind was Snickers bars. I love Snickers bars so I used them as my inspiration and tried to create a cake that would be worthy of the Snickers name. Here is the creation I came up with. I call it Snickers Cake.
Check out all the chunks of Snickers on top. Can’t you just feel the sugar coma coming on?
I start with a warning; this isn’t a cake that you just quickly throw together. It is composed of caramel cake, chocolate brownie, whipped chocolate ganache, peanuts, caramel sauce and peanut butter icing then dressed up with Snickers bars and chocolate shavings and drizzled with more chocolate ganache and caramel sauce. Aside from the peanuts and caramel sauce, the other elements of the cake are made from scratch so you need to allow time to make each element. I happened to have a bad baking week last week so it took me way longer than it should have but I learned a few things from my mistakes that I can share with you. The feedback from the men was so wonderful that I have decided this one is a keeper. I can’t wait to make it again with a few improvements now that I know what to do and what not to do.
Here is everything you will need to put this cake together: Two round 8-inch layers of caramel cake, one round 8-inch layer of brownie, peanut butter icing, whipped ganache filling, peanuts, caramel syrup, mini Snickers bars, dark chocolate and heavy cream (for additional ganache), milk chocolate for chocolate shavings
The cake is composed of three layers; a layer of chocolate brownie sandwiched in between two layers of caramel cake. Here is how it looks before it is iced.
To begin with you will need two layers of round 8-inch caramel cake. I had never made a caramel cake before so I did some searching online and came across a recipe off of Cakecentral.com. The cakes baked up beautifully and had a great caramel flavor but I overcooked them a little so they were a tad on the dry side. Next time I will start checking for doneness earlier and see if they turn out moister with less baking time. Click here for a printable version of the Caramel Cake recipe.
The next element of the cake is the chocolate brownie layer. This part of the cake ended up being a nightmare for me. I hate to admit it but I have always just made boxed brownie mixes because my family loves the chunky Ghiradelli brownie mix they sell at Costco. I didn’t want all the chunks in this brownie layer, though, so I decided to make the brownie from scratch. You would think that wouldn’t be too difficult but I live in a high altitude area and sometimes even the simplest baking projects can be the most difficult. The first recipe I tried sunk so badly in the middle that it was completely unusable. I went back to the internet and began searching for brownie recipes that worked in higher altitudes. I came across a recipe on Allrecipes.com that had great reviews and people from all sorts of different altitudes were saying how well it baked up. I mixed it up, stuck it in the oven, and then suddenly realized that I had miscalculated the butter. It is a mistake I often make; I forget that a stick of butter is equal to 1/2 cup, not one cup. So I had only used half the amount of needed butter. The brownie was a disaster when it came out of the oven. Surprisingly, though, it still had a great flavor. So I washed my pans and started over once again, this time making sure I had measured everything correctly. Well, third time is definitely a charm, because this time the brownie turned out perfect. In fact, it was so yummy that I think I may give up my box mix altogether and stick with this recipe. Click here for a printable version of the Chocolate Brownie recipe.
For the filling I decided to use a whipped chocolate ganache. Ganache tastes amazing and is very versatile. You can used it while it is still warm as a glaze, or let it chill and use for piping, or whip it up and use as a filling. You may want to make this before baking the cakes because it needs to be chilled before you can whip it. Click here for a printable version of the Chocolate Ganache recipe. Once you make it, lay some plastic wrap directly on the surface of it and place it in the refrigerator until chilled. I made mine in the bowl of my mixer so that I could then just insert it into my mixer and whip it, like you would whipping cream. Keep an eye on it while you are whipping because I made the mistake of letting it go and getting involved in something else. When I returned, I had over whipped it. Over whipped ganache does the same thing that over whipped cream does, it gets kind of clumpy. It still tasted great and spread just fine but it wasn’t quite as silky as it should have been. (I told you I was having a bad baking week.)
Finally, I made a peanut butter icing to cover the cake. This is my favorite peanut butter icing that I use for a lot of my projects. It is one of my favorite icing flavors and is incredible with anything chocolate. Click here for a printable version of the Peanut Butter Icing recipe. In full disclosure, I also messed this up because I didn’t add enough cream when I was mixing it up and it was entirely too stiff. I should have put it back in the mixer and added more cream but I had gotten tired of correcting things at this point and decided to use it as is. That made for a horrible icing job, which I will talk about in a minute.
Once I had made all my elements it was time to assemble the cake. I started with a caramel layer on the bottom then piped a ring of peanut butter icing around the edge with a #2A tip to hold the filling in. I filled it with the whipped ganache then sprinkled it with peanuts and drizzled caramel syrup over the whole thing. I used Smucker’s Sundae Syrup because we had some in the fridge but next time I will look for something that is a little thicker or make my own syrup because the sundae syrup was much thinner than I would have liked it to be.
I laid the brownie layer on top of this and repeated, topping it with the other caramel cake layer. Again with the confessions, I actually forgot to add the peanuts to the next layer of filling. That is something I will make sure to not forget next time.
Once the cake was completely assembled, I iced it in the peanut butter icing. As I mentioned before, my icing job turned out horrible because the icing was way too thick. I kept trying to mess with it and fix it but I finally just gave up and decided to cover the whole thing in chocolate shavings. My original plan for the cake was just to cover the lower half of it with the chocolate but sometimes you have to move on to Plan B, especially during weeks like I was having.
To make the chocolate shavings, I took a vegetable peeler and scraped it down the sides of the milk chocolate bar. I ended up using a little over half the bar to completely cover the cake. To attach the chocolate to the sides all you have to do is take handfuls of it and press them on the side of the cake. You will want to do it over a plate or clean counter because the chocolate spills everywhere.
I then put some more peanut butter icing in a decorating bag fitted with a #1M tip and piped the large border on the top edge of the cake. For each mound of the border, I placed the tip against the side of the cake and began piping as I brought the tip up and over the edge of the cake, resting it on the top of the cake. I piped each of these mounds side by side until the whole cake was covered. I then went around and, using the same tip, held the tip directly above the end of each mound and piped a large star to finish it off.
Once the border was on I cut all the mini Snickers bars into quarters and piled them up inside the center of the top of the cake. I then made a half batch of ganache and, while it was still warm, put it in a squeeze bottle and drizzled it all over the top. If you don’t have a squeeze bottle you can pour it in a plastic sandwich baggie and cut a very small piece off the corner of the bag.
I finished it all off with a final drizzle of the caramel sundae syrup. Here is the finished cake one again.
I also wanted to show you what a sliced piece looks like. Unfortuantely this is not the best picture. I didn’t want to cut the whole cake up since it was going to an event so I took out one slice and I didn’t do a great job of cutting it out cleanly. Oh well, you get the point that it really is a pretty cake on the inside with the different colored layers.
We all have our bad weeks when it comes to baking and this was definitely one of mine but, even with all the problems, I was still really happy with the final cake. Hopefully next time I will have the kinks worked out and it will become one of my signature desserts.
Until next time, God Bless and Sweet Dreams.