Sugar is cooked to deepen the flavor of this moist Burnt Sugar Candy Bar Cake. Browned butter and crushed candy bars finish off this sweet and delicious cake.
Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and lightly flour 3 8-inch baking pans.
Place the 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a medium pot. Place over medium-high heat and allow to cook until the sugar just begins to melt, without stirring. Reduce the heat and begin to stir the mixture constantly, cooking until golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes more. Carefully stir in the hot water. (Do not be alarmed if the syrup forms lumps – this is normal.) Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat. Continue stirring until the mixture is free of any lumps. Remove from the heat and carefully pour into a liquid measuring cup. Add enough water to make the mixture equal 1 3/4 cups liquid. Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, beat together the 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, the 2/3 cup butter, the egg yolks (reserve the whites), and the 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until smooth.
In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and beat just until combined. Add half of the sugar syrup mixture and beat, followed by another 1/3 of the flour, then the remaining sugar syrup and the remaining flour.
In a medium mixing bowl, (or in a separate bowl on your stand mixer), beat the reserved egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Divide the batter evenly between all three baking pans. Bake in the preheated oven until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18-25 minutes.
Cool the cakes for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting:
Place the 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until melted. Continue to cook the butter until it forms a nut-brown color. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and the 4 tablespoons of butter until combined and cool. Beat in 2 cups of the powdered sugar. Beat in the browned butter and the 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the remaining 4 1/2 cups. Add as much of the milk as needed to get a spreadable consistency.
Assemble the cake:
Place one cake layer on your cake stand or plate. Spread about 1/2 cup of the frosting over the top of the cake, then sprinkle on 1/2 of the chopped Heath bars. Place another cake layer on top and spread another 1/2 cup of frosting and the remaining chopped Heath bars. Place the last cake layer on the top. Use the remaining frosting to frost the outside of the cake. If desired, decorate with more chopped candy bars.
high altitude changes: I added 1 extra tablespoon of sugar to the cake, plus 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon flour.
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen Favorites
Nutrition information provided as an estimate only. Various brands and products can change the counts.