I've had quite a few leaving cakes recently, but this time it wasn't for me! One of the women from my work left on Friday to take on a new marketing role, and whilst she wasn't the first to leave in the three and a half months I've been there, she was the closest to my age and we had some good times even in such a short stint! I have been wanting to make this cake for a while and I thought that she deserved something a little special so I used my last jar of marshmallow fluff (so sad, I need to get some more from Australia or the States!) and based my cake on this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. It turned out pretty well even though it swelled to about twice the size of my cake tin size when I was baking the cakes! My flatmate helped me out with the icing because I was exhausted by that stage but it was very enjoyable and see the results for yourselves.
2 1/2 cups plain flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup Dutch-process (or other dark) cocoa powder
1T baking soda
1 1/2t baking powder
1 1/2t salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups strong black coffee
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 1/2t vanilla extract
4T unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped
2 cups sugar
60g butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 cup cream, at room temperature
1T sea salt
115g butter, softened
115g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce
2 cups icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line 3 20cm cake tins. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you're using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin). Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Fold in the peanuts. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it in the cake. You can do this leaving it at room temperature or you can pop it into the refrigerator to speed up the process. Be sure to give a stir occasionally as it cools otherwise it may get too hard and unusable.
Salted Caramel Sauce:
Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy saucepan, medium sized. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. You'll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, but that's okay. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down.Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using a candy thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 180°C. As soon as the caramel reaches 180°C, add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the sea salt and whisk to incorporate. Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into a glass jar or storage container and let cool to room temperature. You can refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 weeks. The leftovers are great on ice cream according to my flatmate!
Salted Caramel Frosting:
Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes (I like to use the whisk attachment, but it's not necessary). Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the icing sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.
If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with half of the nougat filling and then spread a couple spoonfuls of the salted caramel sauce over top to evenly cover the nougat filling. Top with a second cake layer and cover with the remaining nougat filling and top with caramel sauce. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the salted caramel frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set (or use the garage or another cold place in your house overnight, that's what we did!).