Monday, December 30, 2013

Dreams & a "Snickers" Cake

When your growing up adults are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up.  Then when you are really in the process of growing...aka going to college and taking classes, the question becomes what do you want to do when you graduate?  Generally during this period in life, the answer normally involves your dreams and aspirations; your dream job, a company you would love to work for, a city/state where you would like to be living while doing this job.  Then you graduate, and if you were born in the 80's and maybe even the early 90's, you were brought up thinking that directly after college you would just sort of automatically have job.  This of course is no longer the case, sometimes, like in my case it is several months searching for a job, and generally somewhere along the way, the dream job, with the dream location goes out the window and its more about finding a job that is in the general field you wanted to work in.  (That is not to say some of us don't get lucky, and find the job and the field that allows us to grow into our dream job.)  And we all work, we do what has to be done because now we are the adults. Then at some point, probably after 2-3 years of being in the working world, our dreams come back to the surface, and we start wondering again what it is we would truly love to be doing, to make our mark on the world, to follow our heart.  

I got to meet up with a friend for drinks over the holidays who is finally getting to truly live his dream.  Despite all the fact that for a while all odds (including having brain surgery) were against him, despite all of the incredibly hard work he is now doing, including crazy Army workouts, he never gave up and he loves every minute of it.  I can only imagine that this is what it feels like to be living your dream. When all of the continuous hard work is worth every minute of lost sleep or time away from friends and family.  It is always this time of year that the question asked is what will your New Years Resolution be?  I say we should all resolve to work a little more toward our dreams this year.  To looking into our hearts and really thinking about what we would truly love to be doing in life.  I myself don't want to forget why I started this blog three years ago now.  To have a place to share and a reason to bake constantly.  So after three years...and a couple hundred recipes here is another cake to add to the list.

It wouldn't really be a "Snickers" cake without an actual layer of melted together Snickers now would it?

This cake was inspired by a co-workers desire to have a sort-of Snickers cake.   I thought on this one for while, and this is what I came up with...two layers of devil's food cake (I went out of the box here and even tried a new recipe.) with salted caramel frosting in the middle and on top.  Now what makes this cake different is the layer of thinly sliced and melted together snickers found between the layers of cake with extra chopped peanuts in the middle and on top plus just a little drizzled chocolate on top.  I didn't frost the sides of this cake, because for one I wanted you to see the layers and two I knew the cake would be rich and sweet enough without the extra frosting.  This cake was light and moist, the snickers were chewy and the peanuts added great crunch...but truthfully my favorite part was the salted caramel frosting. Definitely a cake worth making again and is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth for Snickers.  Enjoy!

The bottom layer also includes some extra peanuts to go with the salted caramel frosting and devil's food cake.

Side view...naked is always better for actually seeing the layers.

"Snickers Cake":
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups strong coffee
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
2 Snickers bars
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted (for decoration)

Salted Caramel Buttercream:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick salted butter, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups powdered sugar

1.  Line the bottom of two 9" round cake pans with parchment paper, and spray the sides with non-stick cooking spray.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees f.

2.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3.  Using a whisk or a hand-mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.  Then whisk in the cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Then add the eggs one at a time, until well mixed.

4.  Alternately add flour mixture and coffee/milk to the butter mixture, whisk between the addition of each just until combined. (Note: Start and end with the flour mixture.) Divide the batter evenly between the two pants.  Bake the can for 30-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean in the middle, check after 25 minutes.  Let the cakes cool in the pans.  While the oven is still on, line another round 9" pan with parchment paper.  Using a sharp paring knife, slice the snickers bars into 1/8 inch slices and lay them flat and touching on the parchment paper.  Bake until melted together 5-8 minutes.  Let cool in the refrigerator to harden together, and become a single layer.

5.  While cake is cooling, prepare the frosting, in a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth.  Let caramel cool about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pour-able.

6.  With a hand mixer, beat softened butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined.

7.  Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed. Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration. If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny. If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. 

8.  Once cakes have fully cooled, remove the parchment paper from bottom layer and move to cake server.  Cut off the top rounded part so the top layer will lay flat.  Carefully frost the bottom layer with half of the caramel frosting.  Next carefully remove the cooled Snickers layer from the parchment paper and place on top of frosting in the center of the cake.  Sprinkle the outside areas that the Snickers do not cover with peanuts. Place the top layer of cake on and frost with remaining salted caramel icing.  Then, it you would like decorate with remaining peanuts and a drizzle of melted semi-sweet chocolate.  Serve and store at room temperature.  Enjoy!

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