Monday, September 1, 2014

A New Favorite: Peanut Butter Candy Bar Cake

A few months ago my neighbor asked me if I would like to help her with a cake she wanted to make for a bridal shower. Since discovering my new passion for cake decorating (i.e. trying to decorate cakes), I have noticed that there aren't nearly enough excuses to bake cakes, so I of course said yes.

In preparation for the big event, I surfed the web and found five contenders for just the right chocolate/peanut butter cake to honor the bride and groom. After sleeping on it, my neighbor chose a Snickers cake featured on Bake Noir .

This cake turned out to be a luxurious, dark chocolate cake layered with ribbons of peanut butter mousse and a center of silky salted caramel and peanut filling encased in a rich chocolate ganache frosting. Wow, was this ever a decadent cake. Absolutely perfect for an engagement celebration.

So, the next day I just couldn't get this cake out of my head and I decided to play around with the ingredients a bit to make it more of what my idea of a Snickers bar tastes like. Mine came out really well, and I should know since I made it two more times to make sure, but I still encourage you to make them both and see what you think.

Peanut Butter Candy Bar Cake

Bake Noir's beautiful cake starts with a homemade cake that I am sure is just wonderful, but since there are several components to the cake, and we are challenged here at high altitude, we went with our favorite cake mix. If you prefer to go the homemade route, please feel free to do so and use your favorite recipe.

1 box white cake mix prepared to package directions (I used Pillsbury which called for 3 whole eggs, cooking oil and water)
3/4 cup malted milk powder

Prepare cake batter according to cake mix package directions, with the addition of the malted milk powder. Pour batter into 2 - 8" cake pans that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, lined with parchment paper, and sprayed again. Bake according to instructions. Remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes before removing the parchment and turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer preferably overnight. This step isn't essential, but I believe, as do many others, that it makes for a moister cake.

Peanut Butter Icing and Filling

4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
8 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until they are completely combined. Add whipping cream and vanilla and mix on low until just combined. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, blending well after each addition. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Peanut Caramel Filling

6 ounces granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup hot whipping cream
2 ounces unsalted dry roasted peanuts
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 pinch kosher salt

Place sugar and water in a medium size sauce pan; stir well to combine. Cook over medium high heat until it starts to boil. Once it gets to this point, reduce the heat to medium to keep it at a slow boil (do not stir). Cook until it turns a golden brown.

Reduce the heat to low and add the hot whipping cream (be careful as it will foam up), stirring constantly. Add the peanuts, butter and salt. Stir until the butter melts. Transfer mixture to a cool bowl. Cover and refrigerate until it is completely cooled and thick; set aside until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache Drizzle

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup hot whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Place chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Pour hot cream over the top and stir. Add butter and place into the microwave. Heat at 15 second intervals, stirring after each, until all chocolate chips are melted and ganache is smooth. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Cake Assembly

Remove cake layers from freezer and unwrap. With a serrated knife, carefully cut layers in half. Spread about 2/3 to 1 cup of peanut butter icing and filling on top of one of the cut layers (don't go too crazy here because you will need what is left to ice the cake). Replace the other half of the layer on top of the icing.

Now spread the top of the first layer with the caramel peanut filling.

Top the caramel filling with the remaining cake layer, repeating the icing step above.

Ice cake with the remaining icing. Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour or until it is firm.

Remove cooled cake and pour cooled ganache over the top. Refrigerate until ganache is set before serving.

Store uneaten cake in the refrigerator, covered.

This is a nice, big, rich cake that easily serves 12 - 16

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