Rich chocolate cake filled with layers of homemade nougat, caramel and peanuts and then covered in a chocolate ganache make this Snickers cake a decadent treat for any occasion!
About twelve-ish years ago, I baked the first birthday cake of what would be many birthday treats for the Godfather. We just started dating a few months prior, and he told me that because his birthday falls so soon after the Christmas and New Year festivities, he sometimes didn’t have a celebration or a cake. The first because everyone was already partied out, and the second because all the Cuban bakeries in Hialeah would close between Christmas Day and Three Kings Day. I thought this was so sad, and I decided to make him a cake. It was the ugliest cake anyone had ever seen, I’m sure…
I asked him what kind of desserts he liked, and he said he mentioned he really liked the Snickers cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. There was no way I was making a cheesecake in my mother’s kitchen. If I couldn’t bake it with a cereal bowl and a fork, it probably wasn’t happening. I found the recipe for a Snickers cake in an old cookbook (which I still own), and it required the melting of several candy bars of the caramel/peanut/nougat variety into a batter. I baked it in an 8×8″ disposable square pan, and it looked a little questionable, but I gave it to him anyway and he thought it was the sweetest thing ever. Over a decade later, I’m still cringing over presentation even though I didn’t know any better at the time.
So I had to make another cake. A better cake. A Godmother cake.
Farewell melted candy bar clumps in batter and hello to a dreamy rich chocolate cake layered with homemade nougat, caramel sauce, and peanuts, then covered with a silky ganache and topped with more caramel and peanuts, because why not? This is a special occasion cake after all.
I used my perfect chocolate cake recipe and baked it into three layers. The ganache was made using a bittersweet chocolate in a 2:1 ratio, and I made the homemade nougat from scratch by modifying this recipe. The nougat was the biggest headache in getting this cake right as the temperature measurements in the recipe I linked to are wrong for a nougat that fills cake. My research showed that the typical temperature range for nougat is somewhere between 270-300 F, a much higher number than the 245 F in the recipe. Through some trial and error, I found a temperature that sets enough to fill the cake, but doesn’t get too hard for cutting or taste too chewy.
Because soft nougat isn’t the most stable filling, I used ganache to create a dam for the filling like this:
To be extra sure my cake wouldn’t slide, I also added lollipop sticks to hold the cake layers in place while I added my ganache frosting and refrigerated the cake for a few minutes to set. I used a little extra ganache to fill the holes up top, and even after driving the cake an hour and letting it sit at room temperature while we visited with friends over dinner, it held up beautifully through cutting and all.
This ganache will also set up quite well at room temperature, but I’d had a few cake meltdowns in the testing process (literally), so I was being extra cautious. You will likely be just fine.
A friend we shared this cake with recently had a baby and said Snickers bars were her craving during the pregnancy. I knew my deconstructed (reconstructed?) cake version was ready to share when she took a bite of cake and said, “This tastes just like a Snickers!” More important, though, is that the Godfather loved it, and didn’t mind having the same birthday cake, four times over, 12ish years later.
- Follow ingredients and instructions for my Perfect Chocolate Cake, but split the batter into three even portions and bake three layers instead of two.
- 2 large egg whites
- ⅔ cup (132 g) granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp (90 ml) light corn syrup
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) water
- 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 cup caramel sauce (store bought works too if you want to save a few steps!)
- 1 cup chopped peanuts, divided (I used 50% salt peanuts)
- 10 oz (290 g) semi sweet or bitter sweet chocolate
- 5 ounces (150 ml) heavy cream
- If you are using homemade caramel, make your caramel before you start baking your cake so it has ample time to cool. The ganache and nougat may be made while the cake is cooling as both set rather quickly. You may also bake the cake a day in advance and then make the ganache and nougat the following day when you are ready to assemble.
- Bake your chocolate cake in three layers using the recipe found here. Set aside to cool completely or wrap and chill until needed.
- Make the ganache by melting the chocolate and heavy cream together in a double boiler or in the microwave at 50% power. Start with 1 minute, then add additional 30 second intervals as needed until smooth and shiny. Set aside.
- Wash your cake pans, grease, and line with parchment. I find that making the nougat into a round shape helps when it comes to filling.
- Combine the corn syrup, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, gently swirling the pan occasionally to ensure even heat distribution. Boil about 5 minutes until it reaches 275 F (135 C).
- When the sugar mixture is about 5 degrees from the target temperature, start whisking your egg whites on medium speed with either a stand mixer or hand mixer until it looks frothy like a bubble bath.
- Keeping the mixer at medium speed, slowly drizzle in the sugar mixture in a very thin stream, keeping it away from the sides of the bowl and the mixer whisk. This will take about two minutes. Don't rush it because you are tempering the egg whites as you go. The first few droplets of sugar mixture may crystallize when they hit the bowl, but they dissolve.
- Continue mixing until the mixture turns opaque, then stop the mixer and add the vanilla and salt.
- Turn the mixer back up to high speed and continue whipping until you've reached firm peaks. Then, using a spatula, fold in your peanut butter. Divide the nougat in two and place in your prepared round pans. Set aside for a few minutes while it sets up and cools down.
- To assemble the cake, place the first layer of cake on your cake plate or board.
- Using a piping bag or a plastic zip top bag with the corner snipped off, pipe a border of ganache around the edge of the cake. Carefully remove one nougat disc from the pan and place it on top of the cake, making sure to keep the nougat inside the ganache "wall". Top with ⅓ cup chopped peanuts and ¼ cup caramel sauce. Top with the second layer of cake.
- Repeat the process and top with the final layer of cake. Use the remaining ganache to frost the cake.
- To decorate, press the remaining peanuts along the bottom edge of the cake and drizzle the top of the cake with caramel. Enjoy!