It’s always the pretty picture on the cover of the cookbook that draws me!

SL Christmas 2007small

Isn’t that an amazing looking cake?! Hello! Why would I even think about attempting to make that?!

Well, I did. I made it for my hubby’s birthday. He didn’t get a choice of cake this year, poor thing. He usually picks yellow cake with chocolate frosting or chocolate cake with no frosting, warm from the oven.

I have wanted to try this cake since, well, 2007 when I got the cookbook.

This is actually a pretty easy cake. It is not made from scratch. This is NOT, however, an inexpensive cake to make. Lots of ingredients. Some of them I left out completely.

Here is what you will need:

Unsweetened cocoa

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix

1 (3.4 ounce) package chocolate instant pudding mix

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cups milk

1 cup canola oil

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp. chocolate extract (optional) I left it out.

1 tsp. almond extract I used all vanilla because I have people in my house who don’t like almond flavoring.

3 (1.55 ounce) Hershey bars

3 (16 ounce) tubs homestyle cream cheese frosting

3 (7.75 ounce) boxes frozen cheesecake bites, coarsely chopped ****WARNING****see note below!

1 (12 ounce) jar dulce de leche caramel sauce I used caramel ice cream topping because I already had it on hand.

Double chocolate rolled wafer cookies

Chocolate fudge rolled wafer cookies I only used one kind of cookie.

•Grease 2 (9 inch) round cake pans and dust with cocoa.

•Mix the cake mix and next 7 ingredients, that is through the extracts, with an electric mixer. Mix on low for a little while then turn up the speed-like the box says.

•Fold in the chopped chocolate bars and pour batter into the pans. You can use any kind of chocolate bar, I suppose.

chocolate bars

•Bake at 350˚ for 32 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on racks.

•Wrap and chill the cakes for 1-24 hours. This is to make the cutting into layers easier.

wrapped cakes

I think I could have stopped right there and been a happy camper. Chocolate cake with pudding and chunks of chocolate bars–yum!

•Use a serrated knife to cut the cakes in half horizontally. You should now have 4 cake layers.

cut cake in half

•Place one layer, cut side up, on your cake plate. Spread with 1/2 cup of the frosting.

cream cheese frosting

• Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheesecake bites.

*****Here is the part I warned you about*****

I looked high and low for cheesecake bites! The recipe recommended Sara Lee. After practically killing myself trying to find these things, I finally went to the Sara Lee website to look for them. In desperation I sent them an email asking where I could find these cheesecake bites in central Arkansas. Usually it takes a while for companies to answer queries of this nature. My email must have sounded pitiful because they got right back to me. Perhaps the Sara Lee folks are just Johnny-on-the-spot about things like that. We’ll go with that. Anyway, turns out, they don’t make them any more! AAAaaaaa! What was I going to stuff my chocolate cake with?! (That was not Sara Lee’s fault. They were very nice and even sent me a coupon for a free cake.  Thank you, Sara Lee.)

I remembered those yummy cheesecake squares you can get at Sam’s.

cheesecake box

I decided to use the plain pieces for my cheesecake “stuffing”. I don’t remember how many I used. The package came with 21 plain cheesecake pieces. I know I didn’t use all of them because we enjoyed the rest later! Looks like I used about 4 pieces per layer. Oh, rats, I didn’t use the other flavors. My poor family had to eat the leftovers.

I chopped the cheesecake into quarters.

cut cheesecake

Ok, now I’m ready to proceed with the rest of the recipe.

•Repeat the process with remaining 3 layers, frosting, and cheesecake, omitting cheesecake on the last layer.

stuffed with cheesecake

•Frost sides and top with the rest of the frosting.

I am really bad about having crumbs in my frosting. I tried to do a thin crumb coat. I chilled it for a little while then put some more frosting on top of that. I still had crumbs in my final coat. One day I’ll work on that skill, or not.

crumb coat

•Drizzle caramel sauce over the cake. Let it drip down the sides and look all yummy! Chill until ready to serve. Decorate with the rolled cookies and leftover cheesecake. I decided the cheesecake bites I ended up with weren’t as fancy looking as the Sara Lee ones from the picture on the book, so I didn’t use them. Had this been leaving my house, I might have used them just to dress up the bottom of the cake.

pretty cake

My cookies on top kinda look like a campfire! Ha!

inside of cake

sliced cake

It was very rich, as you can imagine!

Critics’ Corner

Chip: Awesome! Not your average birthday cake.

Megan: I really liked it, but I thought it would be more “cheesecakey”.

Katie: A tantalizing mix of caramel, chocolate, and all that good stuff. I enjoyed every single bite!