i want candy — candy bar cake

by hungryrabbit on October 28, 2011

Candy Bar Cake w Brown butter Caramel Icing

Halloween is only a few days away and, I’m not ready for it. It’s not like M and I dress up for Halloween parties or mingle in the NYC Village Halloween Parade, but we are usually in a playful spirit. With M being busy with work, recent travels, my recovery from an intense month of rehearsals, and hosting Pie Party LIVE, there is nothing we want more than to have some chill time.

Just because we are not participating in the festivities doesn’t mean I don’t have the taste for candy leading up to All Hallows Eve. The flavors of commercial confection, though not a staple in our household, still calls to me once in a while. Caramel, almond, coconut, peanut, fruit, chocolate—the permutations are endless. There’s something for everyone.

I’ve been meaning to make a cake to celebrate Danceology’s win at Gym Crew Challenge. So I came up with a cake that embodies my three favorite flavors in a candy bar. Caramel is the main flavor profile. Coconut then gives it a surprising undertone and particular kind of nostalgic candy comfort. You can’t make a candy bar-like cake without a nutty crunch, so I employed pecans, which pair beautifully with the caramel.

Maybe next year we’ll have more time to prepare and really submerge in the spirit of Halloween. For this year though, while the cheers of the Halloween Parade echo through the neighborhood, M and I will enjoy this grownup version of trick or treat.

Candy Bar Cake w Brown Butter Caramel Icing

yield: one 6-inch cake


2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup Caramel Syrup (recipe to follow)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Brown Butter Caramel Icing (recipe to follow)
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup unsweetened coconut, toasted
Caramel discs (optional)


1. Set oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350℉. Butter two 6-by-2-inch round cake pans and set aside.

2.Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

3. In a stand mixer, using a paddle attachment cream butter and sugars on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

4. On medium-low speed, slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition Add vanilla until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. With mixer running on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with coconut milk (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with dry ingredients, and beating in each addition until barely combined. Remove bowl from stand mixer.

6. Fold in pecans by hand with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl.

7. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; spread batter to edges of pans with rubber spatula and smooth surfaces.

8. Place cake pan on 1/2 sheet pan. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes, rotate sheet pan half way through. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto wire rack. Cool cakes completely, about 1 hour.

Caramel Syrup

– you will not use up the entire recipe


2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water, plus 1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt


1. Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a stainless steel saucepan, stir until mixture feels like wet sand. Set pan over medium heat and cook until amber color, about 20 minutes. Brush down side of pan with wet pastry brush if necessary to prevent crystallization.

2. Remove pan from heat, slowly pour in one cup of water, caramel will sputter. Stir until the sputtering subsides, add salt and stir to combine. Pour in heat proof bowl and let cool completely.

Brown Butter Caramel Icing


12 tablespoons ( 6 ounces) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons dark rum
4 tablespoons caramel syrup


1. Add butter to a saucepan over medium heat and cook until brown, about 8-10 minutes (Keep a close eye, butter goes from brown to black quickly). Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Add sea salt and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add confectioner’s sugar to the cool butter, a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner’s sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.


1. Trim each cake horizontally to level off the surface.  Place one cake layer on serving platter or cardboard round. Spread 3/4 cup icing over cake layer evenly and top with 2nd layer (upside down). Spread remaining icing evenly over top and sides of cake.

2. Sprinkle toasted pecans evenly on the side of cake, pressing lightly to adhere. Sprinkle unsweetened coconut on top. Decorated with caramel discs.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips October 28, 2011 at 7:31 am

This sounds divine! You really are a sweet genius! Sorry you won’t be doing anything fun. But sometimes “Chill Time” is best!

If it’s any comfort, it looks like most Saturday parties are going to get snowed out anyhow…. You could always just dress up at home ;-)

Nelly Rodriguez October 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

Oh this looks gorgeous and bet it tastes soo good!

Evelyn October 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Wow! Your candy bar cake looks amazing! My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures!!!

SweetSugarBelle October 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Oh KEN! I want this too!!! SO BEAUTIFUL!

Tina@flourtrader October 28, 2011 at 6:40 pm

You are so busy, where do you find the time! Glad you took time out to post this lovely cake. By your ingredient list, I am sure that even the pickiest of palates will find your cake to be delicious. That ingredient list has a lot of goodies in it. The way you have iced and decorated it-really does entice. Well done.

Barbara | Creative Culinary October 28, 2011 at 9:52 pm

When I saw your title I cried a little; thinking, NO, not Ken too! But alas, those tears have turned to ones of joy as I see nary an M&M or Mars Bar or even worse? Candy corn.

THIS looks stunning Ken; so up my I love everything caramel alley. Just gorgeous. I might have to make. Wow, just WOW!

megan @ whatmegansmaking October 29, 2011 at 8:32 am

This is a beautiful cake! Much better than a regular old candy bar :)

Bunkycooks October 29, 2011 at 8:41 am

Ken, now this is truly gorgeous! I also have to say how refreshing it is to see a Halloween inspired treat that isn’t full of candy and just for kids! Love this. :-)

Gail October 29, 2011 at 9:01 am

Such a sophistciated, adult way to say Happy Halloween! Just lovely, Ken. But, we’ve come to expect nothing less from you!!!

Joan Nova October 29, 2011 at 9:08 am


Lora October 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm

What an outstanding cake. Wow! Happy Halloween. I will be one of those freaks on the street at the parade.

My Recession Kitchen October 29, 2011 at 8:10 pm

This looks wonderful! I’m going to bookmark your recipe for later.

argone October 30, 2011 at 5:02 am

Makes me drool, this cake is so tempting … congratulations !

foodwanderings October 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Ken, You elevated Halloween to a unparallel level of sophistication. This is truly an elegant dessert!

foodwanderings October 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm


Russell van Kraayenburg October 30, 2011 at 6:39 pm

My god, you make stunning cakes! This is beautiful and the recipe looks incredible. Can I move in with you?

Jen Laceda October 30, 2011 at 11:24 pm

O.M.G. !!!! Yummy! Love the cake stand, too ;)

shirley@kokken69 October 31, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Oh, this is just too gorgeous! Love the caramel icing!

heather October 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm


Winnie November 1, 2011 at 8:15 am

Ken this is such a stunning cake. And I can only imagine how delicious it would be!

Sandy@divaeatsworld.com November 1, 2011 at 5:55 pm

caramel, pecans, coconut, RUM….you dirty-dirty boy!

Cookin' Canuck November 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Everything about this cake screams “Yes!” to me. That top photo is absolutely gorgeous. By the way, I watch the Danceology video and you guys rocked it!

Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi) November 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm

This is gorgeous! Happy to be a new fan.

Elizabeth November 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm

What a gorgeous cake and I.Am.Dying. over that frosting. Brown butter and me are like this.
Love it!

Luciana November 2, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Wonderful cake! I love all flavors.

MikeVFMK November 3, 2011 at 12:25 am

Ken, so bloody beautiful! I’ve been meaning to come by and leave a comment since I first saw a photo from this post. Well, I’m finally here. It’s brilliant! Love this post.

Chez Us November 4, 2011 at 8:59 am

Ken, I cannot think of the words to describe this cake. It really is a show-stopper. I love the spun sugar on top – gorgeous. I, too, am like you and love all of those flavors in a candy. You did forget … to add a little dark chocolate, but I will forgive you because you added the caramel. :) Really stunning!

Jamie November 5, 2011 at 7:48 am

Sweetheart, I want to come over and kiss you. Hard. I have been so upset about all the store-bought candy finding its way into “recipes” all over the food blogosphere… this is not the way to inspire home baking or healthy, wholesome eating habits. Bad. Bad. And here you have created a fabulous, gorgeous cake with all of our favorite candy bar flavors (oooh yes caramel and coconut and pecan) from scratch. You are so multitalented my darling Ken. This cake is not only gorgeous to look at, really pastry shop perfect, but fabulous and I want a slice. Can I move in?

Jamie November 5, 2011 at 7:49 am

See? I ditto double what Barb said… yay for no candy corns, M & M’s or chopped kit kats for you! Perfect!

hannah@ Bake Five November 9, 2011 at 3:07 am

i admire you……..r cake! and your ingeniuty too, of course! haha…

Sandra January 17, 2012 at 10:06 am

Hi there,

On your caramel syrup recipe you say you need 1/2 cup water + 1 cup water. In the method you say add 1/4 cup of water to the sugar. Which one is the correct one?

hungryrabbit January 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Thanks for pointing that out. It’s 1/4 cup.

Sandra January 23, 2012 at 7:39 am

I made it with 1/2 cup water and it came out fine too.

I made this cake and it was DELICIOUS! I changed it up a little though. I didn’t make the icing because my family aren’t really into really sweet things (I am!). So instead I stabbed the cake, after it was cooked, with a toothpick all over and poured the rest of the caramel syrup over. It came out like a dense pound cake. Also instead of using pecans I used walnuts because that’s all I had.

I’d love to try the recipe again properly with the icing one day too :)

Emily February 8, 2013 at 4:30 pm


The video for caramel discs is no longer available. Can you link to something else that shows how to make them?


hungryrabbit February 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I updated the video. Basically you make a light caramel and drizzle it on a silicon mat to form the disc. -Ken

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