As a coal cracker, I was surrounded by the ability to enjoy just about every variety of Tastykake product out there (Tastykake bakery was based in Philadelphia, Pa. and their products were widely available in just about every store in the Coal Region, from grocery chains, to Mom and Pop corner stores, to gas stations.)
My absolute favorite as a kid was the product originally known as Tandy Takes (now renamed to Kandy Kakes) which went on to become the most popular Tastykake product. Made in two versions at the time, my chosen one was the milk chocolate en-robed, peanut butter-topped little gem of yellow cake. (The other version was a dark chocolate and white creme topped chocolate cake. Today they make specialty/limited time versions for holidays in many flavor combos).
When I was a child, it was a huge treat to receive a pack of Tandy Takes. I savored them one at a time, stowing away separately the three cakes that came in the individual package. In my mind, I would schedule each one’s demise (accompanied by a glass of milk over ice!)
Well planned attack
There was a ritual I had when it was time to down one of those delightful little cakes — I would nibble around the entire outer edge, taking off the coating of chocolate until I was left with a disk of cake topped with a layer of peanut butter and the remaining chocolate which was then finished off in three equal bites. Confession time — I still eat a (now) Kandy Kake the same way today.
By The 80’s, Tastykake was no longer just a Philly phenomenon. Improved distribution meant their products were becoming available throughout a much wider area around the US.
Satisfy a craving
If you love the milk chocolate/peanut butter Kandy Kakes like I do, but cannot get them — or love them so much you need an entire pan full — here is a homemade version that will please your craving for a Pennsylvania favorite.
A few notes
I have used chocolate chips when making this with poor results; depending on the brand, the chocolate gets too hard when cooled. In addition, some brands of chips do not melt nicely; they are formulated to keep their shape during baking so their melting properties are not ideal for use in this recipe. My preference is to use Hershey’s chocolate bars or Merckens candy coating wafers. That said, your mileage may vary; if you have a baking chip you like that you know melts well, feel free to use them.
The recipe calls for 1 cup peanut butter. I always use traditional, smooth peanut butter, not the “natural” style. Depending on the texture and viscosity of the peanut butter, I find I often use up to 1/4 cup more to get full coverage on the cake. “Dolloping” the peanut butter in small mounds across the surface of the hot cake allows the peanut butter so soften nicely and spreading it becomes easier.
The original recipe called for 8 ounces of chocolate, but I use 12 ounces in my recipe. I have found that 8 ounces was not enough to get the full coverage over the peanut butter that I desired. If, once melted, you decide you do not need that much, discard it or allow it to re-hardened and use it at a later date for garnish on other baked goods (or snacking!).
Baking this on a parchment lined pan makes the cake easy to remove for cutting. To ease in cutting even more, score the chocolate layer while it is nearly set, marking out your future cutting lines. This allows you to cut through the chocolate layer more cleanly.
Homemade Kandy KakesCourse: DessertCuisine: Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate
Vanilla cake topped with a layer of creamy peanut butter smothered in milk chocolate.
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
12 ounces milk chocolate candy bars (like Hersheys) chopped OR 12 ounces milk chocolate flavored candy melts
2 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a large bowl, beat margarine/butter and sugar until creamy.
- Add flour, baking powder, cooled milk, vanilla and eggs. Beat until smooth.
- Spread into a greased 15 x 10 x 1-in. baking pan. Bake 350 F degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Don’t over-bake.
- As soon as cake comes out of the oven, gently spread on the peanut butter covering the entire top of the cake in a thin layer. Hint: drop small dabs of peanut butter scattered across the cake. The heat from the cake will soften the dabs of peanut butter making them easier to spread. Allow the cake to cool completely.
- In a double boiler or metal bowl over simmering water, melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Avoid getting any water in the chocolate to prevent seizing. Gently drizzle over the cooled cake then spread the chocolate to completely cover the peanut butter.
- Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm or allow chocolate to harden at room temperature. Allow to come to room temperature before cutting into squares for serving. Scoring the chocolate before it is completely set makes cutting these bars easier.
- Can be cut then wrapped in individual, portable servings.
- I have used chocolate chips when making this with poor results; depending on the brand, the chocolate gets too hard when cooled. Some chips do not melt nicely; they are formulated to keep their shape during baking so their melting properties are not ideal for use in this recipe.