Remember when I said that homemade vegan caramel sauce was “perfect for drizzling on a cake”, perhaps “a certain cake which you may be seeing in the future”?
Yeah. Well. Here you are.
Because, as it turns out, my mom is actually fifty years old this year. Crazy, right?
So obviously I had to make a ginormous, over-the-top cake worthy of such a huge birthday. Because, as I took to reminding my mom, you only turn fifty once. You only get to celebrate your half-century of successful life once. Or, I don’t know, I can’t stop you from celebrating it twice, but most normal people only have one fiftieth birthday.
But how to make a cake befitting such an occasion? For inspiration, I turned to Katherine Sabbath, ever the wise cake-baker, and scrolled through her feed until I found something I foolishly thought I could replicate. This cake, featuring “double chocolate brownie filled with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups & cookie dough fudge, decorated in a rustic style vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream & topped with homemade salted caramel, toffee shards, macadamia crumble & caramel meringue kisses”, became the basis for the cake you see here.
|I see no resemblance.|
Of course, not being a cake-making genius, I had to simplify the concept a little bit. I used devil’s food cake instead of brownie and filled each layer with peanut butter cup-stuffed peanut butter cookie dough, then frosted the whole shebang with a basic vanilla bean buttercream, drizzled it with a shit-ton of caramel, and topped with crunchy caramel shards and more peanut butter cups. A little more approachable than a tiered, topping-overloaded mega cake, I think.
|I definitely have no problem approaching this cake for another slice.|
Making this cake was a little stressful, a little more so than making, say, a loaf cake. Maybe it was because I now apparently have issues making chocolate cake. Or maybe because my mom’s birthday coincided with exam week, and god knows baking and AP biology studying do not work well together (don’t worry—I passed with flying colors *pats self on back*). But the end result? SO SO worth it.
|Now obsessed with caramel drip cakes.|
The peanut butter filling here is like a thick layer of rich, buttery fudge between the dense, intensely chocolaty devil’s food cake. The chunks of homemade peanut butter cups (I used this recipe) don’t hurt either. The crunchy (and, I should warn you, extremely sharp) caramel shards provide welcome textural contrast, as does the super gooey caramel sauce.
|I had a little trouble deciding how to decorate the top of the cake, as you can see.|
But the most important thing? My mom loved it.
Here’s the recipe.
Chocolate, peanut butter, and caramel layer cake with vanilla bean buttercream
1 recipe devil’s food cake
Peanut butter cup cookie dough
84 grams • vegan butter, room temperature • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
192 grams • peanut butter • 3/4 cup
75 grams • granulated sugar • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
82 grams • light brown sugar • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
15 grams • nondairy milk • 1 tablespoon
153 grams • all-purpose flour • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
2 grams • salt • 1/4 teaspoon
4 grams • vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon
12 vegan peanut butter cups, roughly chopped
Vanilla bean buttercream
336 grams • vegan butter, room temperature • 1 1/2 cups
540 grams • powdered sugar • 4 1/2 cups
60 grams • nondairy milk • 1/4 cup
12 grams • vanilla bean paste • 1 tablespoon
3 grams • salt • 1/2 teaspoon
200 grams • granulated sugar • 1 cup
60 grams • water • 1/4 cup
1 recipe caramel sauce
First, bake the cake layers. Bake according to the recipe here, omitting the raspberry extract. Let cool completely before using.
To make peanut butter cookie dough, start by placing vegan butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer; beat until smooth. Add granulated sugar and light brown sugar and cream until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add milk, flour, salt, and vanilla and mix until the dough comes together. Fold in chopped peanut butter cups.
Divide dough between two 6-inch round baking pans, both lined with parchment. Press dough into the bottom of each pan. Freeze until firm.
To make the frosting, start by placing vegan butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and beating until smooth. With mixer on low speed, spoon in powdered sugar a little bit at a time. Then slowly pour in milk and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla bean paste and salt. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
To make caramel shards, stir water and sugar in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Don’t boil until all the sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook until it reaches a rich golden color. Remove from heat and pour on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Let cool completely, then break into pieces.
Finally, assemble your cake. Remove one cookie dough layer from the baking pan and place on top of one of the cake layers. Frost with a thin layer of vanilla bean buttercream, then top with another cake layer. Repeat with the other cookie dough layer and remaining cake layer so you have a three-layer cake. Frost the exterior with vanilla bean frosting. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Decorate with caramel shards and peanut butter cups.
|Just LOOK at that beast.|
For more ginormous layer cakes, check out the links below.
Brownie mega cake with raspberry, rosewater, and cookie dough. Also inspired by Katherine Sabbath.
Momofuku-inspired carrot cake. You’ve never seen such over-the-top carrot cake.
Brooklyn blackout cake. Four giant layers of awesomeness.
Meyer lemon crepe cake. If you’ve ever wanted to make a fifteen-layer cake, then here you go.