I’m a little odd. No, not like that! It’s just that I don’t love chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it either. But when it comes to sweets, there are many other hits on my favorites list before chocolate makes an appearance. So maybe it’s no surprise that my absolute favorite candy bar is a Take 5, since it full of other goodies like peanut butter, caramel, and pretzels. I crave this bar. Unfortunately I’m staying away from peanuts and sugar these days, so craving this candy bar is as good as it gets.
My co-worker and friend, Karen, is celebrating a milestone birthday today. Karen loves candy, especially when there are peanuts and chocolate and peanut butter and caramel and pretzels involved. After all, salty and sweet are two of her major food groups.
I had been dreaming of making a Take 5-inspired cake for…months (no joke), and I knew that Karen would love it as much as me. Six Sisters Stuff recently posted some Take 5 Cake Mix Bars, but I had in mind a layer cake that mimicked the layers of the candy bar. Kitchenaid and Cookbooks made a sheet cake with layers like a Take 5 candy bar, but again no layers.
Inspired, I started planning. I knew that I wanted a chocolate cake layer and some sort of peanut or peanut butter layer. The Take 5 candy bar has both in it, so I decided to make a peanut butter frosting and a salted peanut cake. I also knew that I wanted to use crushed pretzels with some sort of caramel filling, and I decided to use another frosting layer that incorporated both.
As I mentioned when I made these brownies, I now do a lot of my baking for others by staring with box mixes. I take a hint from Tidy Mom and substitute the oil called for on the box with butter. I don’t melt the butter, though; I just let it soften. And I substitute the water called for with buttermilk. So I purchased boxes of both chocolate and butter recipe cake mixes to begin. While I was in the cake mix aisle, I decided to give some of the pre-made frostings a try. I picked up a tub of buttercream frosting to use as the base for the peanut butter frosting and a tub of cream cheese frosting for the base of the caramel-pretzel frosting. The chocolate buttercream frosting, however, was made from scratch.
I’m not the most talented of cake decorators. In fact, I may add it to my list of goals to improve upon. I could take a class, but when do I have the time. (Note: Make it another goal to find more time.) I usually cover up my frosting woes with something bright, sparkly, sweet, or all of the above to distract the eye. On this cake, I wanted to repeat some variation of the chocolate-peanut-caramel-pretzel theme. Then I remembered the Rolo pretzel candies that I have seen around the web. Instead of pecans, though, why couldn’t I just use peanuts?
if you didn’t already know, I like to play with food, and these yummy layers are proof. I baked the cake layers the night before I planned to assemble the cake, because it helps to keep the crumbs out of my impatient frosting way. Because it ended up being four layers, I also used two bamboo skewers inserted through the center to hold everything together. The cake transported well in my Wilton cake carrier, but it was tall and heavy…somewhere between 8-10 pounds. I had leftovers from all three frostings, but that makes my husband happy. I made him mini layer cakes with the leftover cake trimmings. What?!? Waste not, want not.
Take 5 Layer Cake
Salted Peanut Cake Layers:
1 box of butter recipe cake mix
butter equal to amount of oil called for on cake mix box,softened
buttermilk equal to the amount of water called for on the cake mix box
16 oz. dry roasted, salted peanuts
Chocolate Cake Layers:
1 box of chocolate cake mix
butter equal to amount of oil called for on cake mix box, softened
buttermilk equal to the amount of water called for on the cake mix box
Peanut Butter Frosting:
1 can of prepared buttercream frosting
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 can of prepared cream cheese frosting
1/2 c. caramel ice cream topping
approximately 2 cups of small pretzel twists
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
1 c. butter, softened
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted
1 t. vanilla
5 c. powdered sugar
4-5 T. buttermilk
Rolo Pretzel Candies:
16 small pretzel twists
16 Rolos, unwrapped
16 dry roasted, salted peanuts
Preheat oven to 325°F and prepare two 9-inch cake pans by lightly greasing or spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
Prepare the chocolate cake layers first. Follow the directions on the box, substituting the butter and buttermilk for the oil and water. After removing the baked cakes from the pans, allow the pans to cool completely. When cool, prepare the pans again with additional greasing or non-stick cooking spray for baking the salted peanut layers.
To prepare the salted peanut cake layers, grind the peanuts in a food processor until they are finely ground. Be careful not to leave them in too long, or you may end up with peanut butter. Follow the directions on the butter recipe cake mix box, substituting the butter and buttermilk for the oil and water. Before pouring the batter in the prepared pans, mix in the ground peanuts.
Allow the cake layers to cool completely. When cool, trim the layers as needed to make them even on top. Rounded cake layers make it more difficult to stack them, especially for a tall cake like this.
To prepare the peanut butter frosting, simply mix the canned buttercream frosting with the peanut butter. For the caramel-pretzel frosting, chop the pretzels in a food processor until they are in pieces about the size of a chocolate chip. Take care not to turn the pretzels into crumbs. I use the pulse button on my food processor to keep from chopping them too much. Then mix the pretzels with the canned cream cheese frosting and caramel ice cream topping.
To prepare the chocolate buttercream frosting, first combine the butter, vanilla and chocolate. Begin to add the powdered sugar to the chocolate mixture slowly, one cup at a time. Next add the buttermilk, one tablespoon at a time, until the buttercream is a spreadable consistency.
To assemble the cake, place a chocolate cake layer on your cake plate. Top with peanut butter frosting. Add a salted peanut cake layer. Top with caramel-pretzel frosting. Add another chocolate cake layer, followed by more peanut butter frosting, and the final salted peanut cake layer. Frost the sides, then the top with the chocolate buttercream. Place the frosted cake in the refrigerator until the buttercream has stiffened.
To prepare the Rolo pretzel candies, place the pretzel on a baking sheet. I placed mine on a silicone baking mat for easier cleanup. Place an unwrapped Rolo on each pretzel. Bake in an oven at 325° Fahrenheit for 4-5 minutes, or until the Rolos are slightly melted. Remove from the oven, and while warm place a peanut on each Rolo. Lightly press on the peanut to spread the Rolo over the pretzel. Allow to cool completely.
To complete the cake decorating, add more caramel-pretzel frosting to the top of the cake. Place the Rolo pretzel candies evenly around the top edge of the cake. Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Makes 16 large slices.