Halloween Candy Cake

there's a time for understated....

....but imho, there's also a time for massively overdone 😉 

Literally packed as much chocolate Halloween candy as I could into one cake, and pasted more onto the outside and piled even more on top! 😉  Annnd that's really about all that was involved in this cake 😉 Recipe below! 

Cake: 

I've recently changed 'favorite chocolate cake' recipes - I borrowed, doubled, and slightly modified one from Nick at @thescranline, and it's *amazing.* Also a tad less labor-intensive than the one I'd been using, which I'm always a fan of. 

I doubled and slightly-modified a chocolate cupcake recipe from thescranline.com - check out Nick's site and his Instagram feed if you haven't already; he does some incredible work!

Of note...you'll need either a kitchen scale to measure ingredients in grams OR - you can use this fancy ‘grams to cups converter’. Or just use the conversions I ballparked for you. You’re welcome.

Chocolate Cake layers:

Ingredients: 
350g all purpose flour (roughly 2 1/4 c)
450g caster sugar (roughly 2 ¼ c)
100g cocoa powder (roughly 1 ¼ c)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt  
1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened 
4 large eggs, at room temperature
350ml milk (about 1 ½ ; I used a 2c pyrex liquid measuring cup with mL marks on the back)
2 t vanilla extract

Instructions:
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 320 FC (160C) for a fan forced oven. Grease 3 8-inch pans with baker's floured spray and/or line pans with parchment paper. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients and no lumps of butter are visible. 

Next, add milk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds. 

Fill the three pans evenly - I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part, and each of mine weighed out to about 700g. Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake layers to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting. If you insert a skewer or toothpick and it comes out with wet batter, bake for another few minutes at a time until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Cool completely – set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.

Meanwhile, make your frosting!

Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
1 cup cocoa powder
6-7 cups powdered sugar
4-6 Tablespoons milk
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar and cocoa powder alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- Halloween candy of your choice! I recommend the chocolate varieties just out of personal preference! I used regular and peanut M&Ms, York Mint Patties, Reese’s cups, and Kit Kat, Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, Almond Joy, and 100 Grand bars. 
Cake levelercake turntable, offset spatula, bench scraper, and piping bag with a star tip - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful!

Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting.
Cover the layer with as many candy varieties as you want to use, and add a little bit of frosting on top to hold your next cake layer in place. Center your next cake layer on top! Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers, adding the final layer on top. 

Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like - a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer. 
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. I usually set the cake into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting at this point, but this time I didn’t – I wanted the Halloween candy to stick to the frosting. Ha. 

This is the part…where you can go a little crazy! I literally pasted as much Halloween candy as I could all over the outside of the cake, and then added a rim of halved Reese’s cups to keep the pile of candy I stacked on top in place. Plaster and pile your cake with Halloween candy however you see fit! 

And that's it - you're done! High-five yourself! 

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo! 

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