As I was designing my new Recipe Box page, I realized that I didn’t have a good layer cake on the blog yet. I did the Marble Camo Cake, but I didn’t get any slice shots since the cake was a gift. So my bro-in-law’s birthday this week was the perfect opportunity to remedy that situation. On his actual birthday, my sister made him hist favorite cake, a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. That is quintessential birthday cake right thurr, and I don’t blame him for loving it. Duncan Hines knows his way around a yellow cake, dude. But I didn’t want him to have the same kind of cake for our family’s celebration this weekend, so I asked my sister what else he likes.
Her response was baffling to me: nothing with fruit or nuts, no spice cake, no carrot cake. Which left me in a pickle, because the cake recipe that I had been formulating in my mind for the past week included 1. fruit, 2. nuts, 3. spices, and 4. vegetables. So I needed a major redirect. I saw this Snickers Cake over on Brown Eyed Baker and that got my wheels turning. I wanted a heavy duty cake with nothing in it that grows on a tree or in the ground. Shhh, the peanuts don’t count.
I made my grocery list, and it read like an internet article titled “Top Ten Foods That Will Hasten Your Death.” 2+ pounds of butter. Come on, me. What are you trying to do? But I decided to treat it more as a Treat Yo Self situation, because I’m really excited about Parks & Recreation being back on.
Chocolate. TREAT YO SELF.
Pretzels. TREAT YO SELF.
Caramel. TREAT YO SELF.
Peanut. TREAT YO SELF.
Bacon. TREAT YO SELF.
The Best Day of the Year!
Some people, who are idiots, told me not to put bacon on this cake. “Maria, that’s enough!” they shrieked. “Don’t give us all high cholesterol and diabetes!” they pleaded. But I said, “NO. I am your queen, and I shall do as I please.” And then I smote them with cake excellence. Totally worth the years I shaved off my life and the lives of all of my loved ones.
This cake was made for a man. A Dude Bro Man. A manly cake? Maybe, if you’re a SEXIST. It will make you say, “Oh man,” whether you’re a dude or a lady. Or somewhere in between. Diabetes doesn’t discriminate. It wants to pull us all in and give us a great big hug. Egalitarianism.
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (90 grams) heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons (57 grams) butter, cubed
- Heavy pinch or two of sea salt (optional)
- Cake Magic, with chocolate adaptation (optional)
- ¾ cup (100 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder (optional)
- 9 fluid ounces (250 grams) hot water
- 4½ cups (540 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2¼ cups (510 grams) unsalted butter
- 3¼ cups (650 grams) sugar
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1½ cups (360 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
- 150 grams egg whites (about 5 egg whites)
- 1¼ cups (250 grams) sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1½ cups (350 grams) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (130 grams) melted semisweet chocolate chips, cooled
- 2 cups (60 grams) hard twist pretzels, broken into small pieces
- 3 cups (340 grams) unsalted whole peanuts OR chopped peanuts (see note)
- ½ pound bacon, cooked crispy and chopped (optional)
- Measure out your cream and butter and have them near the stove. Add sugar to a 2 to 3 quart sauce pan and heat over medium high heat. Move the sugar around with a heat proof spatula or a wooden spoon so that it doesn't burn to the bottom of the pan. The sugar will start to clump together, then liquefy, then turn brown. Smash up any sugar clumps with your spoon as this process happens. Once all the sugar crystals are dissolved and the liquid is amber in color, add the butter and whisk vigorously until the butter is melted. Remove the pan from the heat, and slowly pour in the cream, whisking continuously with your other hand. Whisk until everything comes together and stops bubbling, stir in salt (if desired), then pour into a glass liquid measuring cup (for easy pouring) or a bowl to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush three 8-inch cake pans with Cake Magic (or butter pans and dust with cocoa powder).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, espresso powder, and hot water until smooth and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
- Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat on medium-low speed until mixture is cool, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduced speed to low and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of sour cream, starting and ending with flour. Beat until just combined after each addition.
- Distribute batter evenly among pans, filling each about halfway. Bake about 40-50 minutes, rotating pans twice to ensure even baking. Aa cake tester should come out clean. Cool cakes in pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto racks to cool completely.
- Fill a saucepan about halfway with water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- In the clean bowl of a standing mixer, combine egg whites, sugar, and salt. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water, whisking the egg mixture constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 140° F.
- Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start on low speed and gradually increase to medium-high speed, whisking until stiff peaks form and the sides of the bowl are cool the touch, about 10-12 minutes.
- Reduced the mixer speed to medium-low, and gradually add chunks of butter, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been incorporated and the frosting has come together, add vanilla and melted chocolate. Switch to the paddle attachment and continue beating on low for another 2 minutes, to eliminate excess air and make sure the frosting is smooth.
- If necessary, level your cakes so they are as flat as possible. Place one cake layer on your serving plate. Using a medium-sized round tip, pipe a ring of frosting around the circumference of the cake layer to make a barrier. Pour half of the caramel into the center. Sprinkle pretzel pieces over the caramel. Add a second cake layer and repeat this process. Place the last cake layer face down so the top is nice and even. Wiggle the cake layers around so that everything is even and level. Frost the cake with a crumb cake and place in the refrigerator to chill for 10-20 minutes. Frost the cake with the remaining chocolate buttercream frosting (you will probably have some left over). Press peanuts onto the sides of the cake. Sprinkle crispy bacon pieces around the edge of the top of the cake.
- I used whole peanuts on the sides of my cake because I liked the way they looked, but next time I will probably used chopped peanuts because the whole ones were so heavy they started to slide off!
- This cake could easily be converted to a 2-layer cake and wouldn't be quite so massive. Do the math (two-thirds of everything), or use the excess batter and frosting to make cupcakes.
- For cupcakes, scoop a hole out of in the center of each cupcake, fill with caramel and pretzel crumbs, top with chocolate frosting, and sprinkle with crushed peanuts and bacon pieces.