Halloween Candy Cake layers:
2 ¼ cups (350g) all purpose flour
2 ¼ cups (450g) granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup (100g) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ cups (350mL) buttermilk (buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Of note...you'll need a kitchen scale if you want to measure ingredients in grams.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in bits of softened butter until it’s no longer visible in the dry ingredients and the mixture looks crumbly.
Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and beat 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 550g. Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans, and cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
Meanwhile, make your frosting!
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 cups powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon clear vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
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.
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles) or an 8” acrylic cake disc (I started using these so I wouldn’t waste so many cake circles!)
-Cake leveler – (uneven layers don’t stack well, and this cake leveler from Wilton is inexpensive & my long-time go-to)
- Cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper – these will make smoothing your frosting SO much faster and easier!
- Small piping bag & star tip– this set has been my favorite for 3+ years now!
- Halloween candy of your choice! I like the chocolate variety packs like this one - for the cake in the pictures I used M&Ms, Reese’s cups, and Kit Kat, Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, Almond Joy, and 100 Grand bars (in hindsight, mint patties don't jive well with the other candies).
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!
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!