This chocolate caramel cake with chocolate nougat filling (AKA Milky Way cake) is a candy bar- and cake-lover’s dream!
Remember these chocolate chip cookie snickers bars I made awhile back? Well ever since I made them I’ve been dreaming up other ways to use the nougat filling.
Naturally my first inclination was to make a snickers cake. Candy bar + cake = bliss. And nothing short of it.
But after a few seconds of googling (how did anyone know anything before Google?) I realized it’s been done, and done in exactly the way I’d envisioned my cake. So I turned to another candy bar: the Milky Way.
Caramel? Yes. Chocolate? Of course! And a delicious nougat filling. It was perfect.
Until I googled Milky Ways to be sure I wasn’t forgetting an essential component. And it turns out the nougat in a Milky Way is malted. Did you know this? I never noticed, probably because I was too busy shoveling them into my mouth as fast as possible.
But I’m not a malt lover so I didn’t add any malt to my filling. (My cake, my rules.) If you NEED to stay true to the candy bar you could mix some malt powder into the nougat when you add the marshmallow creme.
And I don’t think this cake is any less delicious for it. Really, it’s a chocolate caramel cake with nougat filling. Is malt absolutely necessary? Of course not!
To make the chocolate cake layers, we use a box mix doctored up in my favorite way, with sour cream. It’s so soft but still sturdy enough to hold up to being smeared with the filling. (Nougat is not the most spreadable confection out there—use an offset spatula dipped in boiling water if you have trouble.)
I made my own caramel sauce for the cake; it’s super simple and doesn’t require a candy thermometer, and it’s way better than store-bought.
When you frost your Milky Way cake, you’ll want to be sure to get the frosting really smooth, as that will allow your caramel to drip down the sides of the cake better. (One day I’ll do a post about how to get a super smooth cake but for now I’ll just say use this icing smoother to smooth it. You can also use an offset spatula dipped in hot water but I feel like I have better control with the smoother.)
Seriously, can you even take the chocolate and caramel combo? If you love it as much as I do then you need this Milky Way cake in your life soon!
- 1 15-ounce box chocolate cake mix
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup whole milk at room temperature
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup evaporated milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup evaporated milk
- 1 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3 to 5 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder optional
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray and set pans aside.
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer. Divide evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 22 to 28 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pans for 20 minutes, then carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely before filling and frosting.
While cake layers are in the oven, make your caramel sauce.
Combine the sugar, butter, water, and salt in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla. Set aside to cool.
Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and evaporated milk, then bring to a simmer. Simmer 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat. Add the marshmallow creme, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract and stir vigorously until completely combined. Let cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Set one cake layer on a cake stand or cardboard cake circle and spread half of the filling in an even layer over the cake. (An offset spatula dipped in hot water is helpful here.) Spread 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce over the filling. Top with another cake layer, pressing down lightly. Repeat with remaining filling and cake layer—you’ll have leftover caramel sauce. Refrigerate until filling is set, about 1 hour.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until very smooth. Add 3 cups of the powdered sugar, the cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons of the milk or cream, and the vanilla, espresso powder, and salt. Mix on low until well combined, stopping a few times to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn mixer to high for 3 to 4 minutes, beating until frosting is very light and fluffy. Add additional powdered sugar if frosting is too thin and additional milk or cream if it is too thick.
Remove cake from the fridge and frost with the chocolate frosting. Smooth the edges of your cake with an offset spatula—this will help your caramel drip down the sides nicely. Refrigerate your cake and the leftover for at least three hours (or overnight), until the frosting is set.
When your frosting has set, warm the caramel sauce just until it is thin enough to drip down the sides of your cake. Transfer it to a squeeze bottle and squeeze caramel around the top edge of your cake. Squeeze the bottle a little harder in some places to create drips, then fill in the circle with the remaining caramel sauce. Refrigerate to set the caramel, then slice and serve.
You can make the cake layers and caramel sauce ahead. Cool cake layers to room temperature and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then you can store them in the fridge for up to 2 days or the freezer up to 3 months. Cool the caramel sauce to room temperature, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.