MUSIC PAIRING: Mumford and Sons, Sigh No More
As I look over my posts, I’m realizing that I just might be lying to myself. Maybe I’ve got an inner baker hiding away that I’m in denial about. For someone who hates baking, I’ve got a lot of baked goods on this site already which is just plain weird. I think I just like to torture myself.
This cake was not easy. Yes, the components were relatively straight forward but it’s a task, people. I saw the recipe about two weeks ago and thought well, that looks horribly time consuming but yet, I really wanted to make it. See? It’s that freak of an inner baker. In all honesty, I’ve just been waiting to break in my gorgeous new KitchenAid mixer. Here’s the problem. I live alone. WHEN does someone who lives alone EVER need a three layer cake full of peanuts, sugar and butter sitting around? Never, people. The answer is never. Lucky for me, Colleen’s birthday was coming up and since Snickers is her favorite candy bar, this just made sense.
You know Colleen from my pumpkin carving bonanza. She’s one of my dearest friends (and possibly one of the only people I would put myself through this baking craziness for). I wanted to surprise her with a homemade birthday cake because, in my opinion, that’s really special and leaves an impression. I mean, I still remember the fresh peach cake that Allison and Mom got me on my birthday five years ago. Yes, that was my 21st, thanks for asking! Mother Mary, was it good. I was hoping this cake would have the same effect on Colleen.
I made this over three days. I just wanted to ensure that I didn’t screw everything up at once and that I could put finishing touches on it on Colleen’s actual birthday this past Saturday. I wanted the cake layers to be baked as fresh as possible and I’m glad I did it this way. Let’s just say that I had no inner baker by day three and would’ve flung myself off my fire escape if I had to do this all in consecutive hours.
I have to admit this to you. When a baked good of mine comes out great, I feel like a champion. No, we will not discuss those Baileys sugar cookies I made for St. Patrick’s Day that tasted like, oh, nothing and that I’m still angry about. Instead, we will discuss all of the right things about this Snickers cake. Every single part of it was delicious.
There’s something really satisfying about taking alllll of the ingredients you see in that massive list and transforming them into something awesome. The salted caramel sauce, which I just might cover my morning oatmeal in, is terrific. The buttercream that you use the salted caramel for is velvety and addictive. The nougat is fluffy and chewy and the cake itself is perfectly moist and chocolate’y. In fact, I like the cake part so much alone that it might automatically be my new go-to chocolate cake recipe. Now, if all these things are so delicious separately, imagine how they taste together. Holy balls, I’ve entered Snickers heaven.
I’m hoping the walk over to Colleen’s helped me burn off maybe one out of seven hundred bites of buttercream because the cake was so dang heavy, I had to switch off carrying it with Allison. We were sweating when we got to Colleen’s. After the big unveiling, that cake just taunted me. See, Colleen had a few friends over for a delicious spaghetti dinner but all the while, through alllll of our eating and champagne drinking and celebrating, that cake just sat there staring at me. Eventually, I’d had enough. It was time. And you know what? It was absolutely worth the wait.
Happy birthday to you again, Colleen! What an honor and privilege it is to call you my friend and to celebrate you, today and always.
Why Mumford and Sons? With the large task that this cake was, I needed something energetic to
calm my terror feed my stamina. I very often sing REAL loud and dance around when Mumford and Sons is on so I knew that this was precisely what I needed. It also made me think of Colleen because she’s super infectious and gleeful so I thought it was a very nice pairing. Know what’s pretty cool? When Allison and I got over to Colleen’s, she had just put this very same album on so I guess you could say this was pretty dang perfect.
Recipe by: Brown Eyed Baker
- 2 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups strong black coffee, hot
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 4 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup evaporated milk
- 1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 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)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) heavy cream
- Additional salted caramel sauce
- Chopped peanuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans, tapping out excess; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you're using a hand mixer), 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 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
- 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, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Fold in the peanuts. 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.
- 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, but that's okay. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, 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. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 350 degrees.
- As soon as the caramel reaches 350 degrees, 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 the sauce for up to 2 weeks. You'll want to warm the sauce up before using.
- Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes (I like to use the whisk attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, but it's not necessary). 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. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.
- If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops.
- 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. Top with a second cake layer and cover with the remaining nougat filling and top with caramel sauce. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the salted caramel frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set.
- While the cake chills, make 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, yet still a pourable consistency.
- Transfer the ganache to a 2-cup measuring cup. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward and flow over the sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. To finish garnishing, drizzle some additional salted caramel sauce over the top and side of the cake, and top with chopped peanuts. Keep the cake refrigerated, removing it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to serving.
- First off, I used dark chocolate for my ganache. Secondly, I ended up smoothing it all around the outside of my cake. I just liked the way it looked better and I wanted that additional chocolate all over instead of just on the top and drizzled down the side.