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The Candy Bar Cake of Your Childhood Dreams

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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.

Candy Bar Coffee Cake
Candy Bar Coffee Cake

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.

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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.

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?”

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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.

Almond Joy Candy Bars

Almond Joy Candy Bars by Kristin Rosenau

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Homemade Crunch Bars: Better than the Original, and Just as Fast

Homemade Crunch Bars: Better than the Original, and Just ... by Marian Bull

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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.

Homemade Twix Bars

Homemade Twix Bars by Kristin Rosenau

Homemade Crackly Candy Bars

Homemade Crackly Candy Bars by Teresa Floyd

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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Candy Bar Coffee Cake

1e4d7b52 fd4f 4798 ae19 d0f715768358  ry 400 Posie Harwood

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Makes one 8-inch cake
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped Almond Roca candies (or a combination of chopped toasted almonds and toffee bits)
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Tags: cake, candy, coffee cake