This cake was envisioned while I was half asleep-half awake in bed. It happens to me many times, is it normal? Not only with food, I think I always have the best ideas when I use my early morning boosted brain power, lying in bed. It was like that before some major exams at the university,
some years, a few years yesterday (winks). If I had visualized all the subjects in my head during sleep, I knew I will be successful. And now dreaming with cakes. What does this mean?
At least I woke up with plenty enthusiasm and ready to put my hands to work in the kitchen. Since every single add-on in this cake is made from scratch I knew I would be busy for a few hours, until I could achieve my lucid daydream cake. It started with the peanuts, needing to be roasted, peeled and caramelized. Then making the shortbread cookie to go in the middle, baking the chocolate cake, preparing the dulce de leche made from sweetened condensed milk and finally the chocolate ganache frosting.
After all the first steps accomplished, it was time to assemble the cake. Naturally, the best part is to test the work done and evaluate the result. Something I don’t mind to do, trust me. Maybe you’ve already guessed that.
Layer by layer, chocolate cake, dulce de leche, shortbread cookie, caramelized peanuts, dulce de leche, chocolate cake, more caramelized peanuts and dulce de leche, chocolate ganache frosting and caramelized peanuts on top. Here you have my version of Snickers in the form of a cake. Chocolate, peanuts and dulce de leche overload.
The best part of the day was when my husband arrived, opened the fridge and exclaimed “wow”. More than words, it was his meaningful expressive eyes that said it all. And I rejoiced. My day was fulfilled.
Preparation time: About 1 hour
Cook time: 15 minutes (roasting peanuts) + 10 minutes (caramelized peanuts) + 60 minutes (dulce de leche) + 15 minutes shortbread cookie + 30 minutes (chocolate cake) + 5 minutes (chocolate ganache) = 2:15 hours
A few utensils used: 1 cookie sheet, 3 9-inch round cake pans and a spatula, besides the saucepan and lots of bowls. Kitchen appliances: food processor and mixer.
8 oz raw peanuts
For caramelized peanuts: 1/2 cup sugar (I use organic pure cane sugar) 3 tbsp water
For dulce de leche:
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
For shortbread cookie:
1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour 1/4 cup sugar 2 tbsp icing sugar 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut in little squares and cold 1 egg yolk
For chocolate cake:
3/4 cups sugar 3/4 cups cocoa powder 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/3 tsp salt 2 eggs 1 cup whole milk 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 tsp pure vanilla extract 1 cup hot herbal tea (I used wild berry) butter and flour to grease the pans
For chocolate ganache frosting:
2/3 cup heavy cream 1 tbsp unsalted butter 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (1 bar)
Roast the peanuts: Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Place the raw peanuts in a cookie sheet and bake for around 15 minutes, stirring once or twice during process. Let it cool for about 10 minutes (peanuts will continue to cook out of oven, so don’t overcook it). Rub the skins to remove them and set aside.
Make the caramelized peanuts: Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a small sauce pan, add 1/2 cup of sugar and 3 tablespoons of water over high-heat. Once it starts to boil, reduce to medium-high and let it cook for about 10 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and becomes amber. Turn off the heat and add the peanuts, tossing to get all well coated. Spread the caramelized peanuts on the prepared cookie sheet in a single layer. Let it cool to room temperature and break into small pieces. Set aside.
Dulce de Leche: I have a tutorial here. You can prepare this in advance. When dulce de leche is ready and at room temperature mix 2/3 with the caramelized peanuts in a bowl, leaving some peanuts aside for decoration. Set aside.
Shortbread cookie (The shortbread and caramelized peanuts were adapted from this baking book):
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees and grease and flour a 9-inch round baking pan. In a food processor, mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and icing sugar), add the pieces of cold butter and pulse it until the mixture resembles like bread crumbs. Pour the egg yolk and pulse once more until combined. Take the mixture out of the food processor, and shape it into a ball. Press it into the baking pan and prick the dough with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Let it cool and set aside.
Chocolate cake (adapted from the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate, seen on the cocoa powder box): Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. In a large bowl of a stand-mixer (or hand-mixer) stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, milk, extra virgin olive oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in hot tea (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil the heavy cream and butter. In another bowl, break the chocolate in pieces and pour the boiling cream over the chocolate, allowing to stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature before frosting. Assemble the cake: In a cake stand or plate of your choice, [place some stripes of parchment paper around the edges and put one chocolate layer on top (this will prevent a mess when frosting). Spread some dulce de leche on top and stack the shortbread cookie on top. Spread half mixture of dulce de leche and peanuts and put the other chocolate layer on top. Spread the remaining dulce de leche/peanut mix on top of the cake.
Frost the cake with the chocolate ganache, using a spatula. Pour the remaining caramelized pieces of peanuts on top for decoration.