Cake

The Candy Bar Cake of Your Childhood Dreams

If you’d told me at age eight that my job would one day involve inventing a cake with a layer of chopped candy bar, I might have fainted. I would have needed to lie down and breathe deeply to recover.

I distinctly remember arguing with my mother at the grocery store around this age. She declined to buy me a king-size Snickers; I fixed her with my fiercest glare and promised that when I was an adult, I’d buy all of the candy I could touch.

At the ripe old age of 28, I’ve gained some nutritional wisdom. I do not buy candy every time I grocery shop. Sometimes I even eat raw kale.

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But I’ve never lost my sweet tooth.

Upon seeing a toffee-filled coffee cake in the Land O’Lakes recipe archives, something stirred in me. My eight-year-old self tapped me on the shoulder and whispered reverently: “Candy cake?”

Photo by Posie Harwood

Let’s discuss the original recipe for the cake itself, which is fantastic (and a nice blank canvas, back-pocket recipe). Sour cream gives it the tender, moist crumb that characterizes a very good coffee cake. Fragrant with almond extract, it’s not too sweet, which helps balance out the rich filling. The batter by itself would make a very good cake. You could add a layer of cinnamon sugar and chopped toasted nuts and call it a day.

I, too, intended to follow the original. I did! But I saw a box of Almond Roca candy—chunks of butter toffee coated in chocolate and almond—and a light bulb went off.

I spread half of the batter over the cake pan, then topped it with a layer of chopped Almond Roca and some semisweet chocolate chips, then a final layer of cake batter. Thirty-five minutes later, the cake rose golden and domed above the pan. A paper-thin crust forms on the top and shatters delicately at the touch of a knife. Underneath is a soft, light cake. A ribbon of melted chocolate and toffee runs through each slice.

Almond Roca is a good pairing for the almond extract in the batter. But you can improvise endlessly. If you want to go the candy route, try a toffee bar (like Skor or Heath) or Toblerone. I suspect Twix or Kit Kat or Butterfinger would be ridiculously good.

Let it be known that I am usually adamant about baking entirely from scratch. I’m not a semi-homemade type of cook. So I particularly love this cake: a choose-your-own-adventure recipe that will work just as nicely with a homemade candy filling or your favorite drugstore bar.

If you are trying to keep things classy (I salute you), you can riff off the idea of a candy bar and make a homemade filling:

  • If you love Almond Joy, try a combination of dark chocolate chips, toasted almonds, and shredded coconut.
  • If you like Mr. Goodbar: chopped milk chocolate and chopped salted peanuts.
  • And If you like Crunch bars: milk and dark chocolate, puffed rice cereal, and cacao nibs.

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