This Heath Bar Cake is my new favorite poke cake recipe. After all, what could be more delicious than putting candy bars in a cake? It's a delicious match up of chocolate and caramel flavors - and it's easy to make in under an hour!
This Heath Bar Cake is one of my all time favorite desserts, combining the irresistible flavors of rich chocolate, creamy caramel, and the salty crunch of Heath Bars. It's a bit of an old fashioned recipe - but it's always the best ones that stand the test of time, right?
While most Heath Bar Cake recipes call for a boxed cake mix, I actually like to make my cake from scratch. It's so much more delicious and still very simple to throw together.
This Heath Bar Cake is:
- An easy poke cake recipe!
- Kid friendly.
- Fun and easy to make.
- A totally delicious crowd-pleasing dessert.
And once you've mastered this basic poke cake recipe, you can get creative and experiment with different toppings and fillings. (Keep reading for some fun variation ideas!)
What is a Poke Cake?
But first you might be wondering - just what is a poke cake anyway? Well, it's exactly what it sounds like! You bake up a delicious cake, then literally poke holes all over it, and then pour tasty fillings right over the top. It gets you all the delicious flavor of a layered cake, with a whole lot less work!
I absolutely love poke cakes - so much that I have an entire Poke Cake Roundup up of my favorite flavors.
Ingredients & Supplies You'll Need
As I mentioned, this Heath Bar Cake is made entirely from scratch. No boxed cake mixes here! Here's what you'll need:
- Flour - I used a basic all purpose flour.
- Cocoa Powder - Make sure it's a good quality brand. I love this Ghirardelli one!
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Butter - Melt it in the microwave and then let it cool slightly before using!
- Eggs - It's best if the eggs are room temperature.
- Vanilla Extract
- Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Caramel Sauce
- Heavy Cream
- Powdered Sugar
- Hot Coffee. (Or just use hot water if you don't want the coffee flavor.)
- Heath Bars - Duh. These are the star ingredient!
- 1 cup hot coffee (or hot water)
In addition, you'll need a 9"x13" baking pan, and something for poking all the holes in your poke cake! I like to use the back of a wooden spoon for this task.
How to Make a Heath Bar Cake
The first step is to make the base cake! Start off by combining all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a large mixing bowl.
Then in another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract. Then combine the dry and wet ingredients together for the cake batter. Whisk in the hot coffee.
Pour the cake batter into a prepared cake pan. And bake it at 350 F for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or sharp knife inserted comes out clean.
Now comes the fun part - poking the holes in the poke cake! I like to use the back of a wooden spoon for this - but you can use anything of a similar size. Poke holes all over the top of the cake!
Next pour the condensed milk and caramel sauce all over the surface of the cake, making sure all the yummy goodness soaks into the holes in the cake. Let the cake cool and then chill it in the fridge for at least an hour.
Finally, we'll add the whipped topping. I make this homemade as well, by whipping together heavy cream and powered sugar. Spread this over the chilled cake, and top it off with the crushed Heath Bars.
(Scroll down to the recipe card for more detailed step by step instructions, including measurements and times.)
Helpful Tips & Tricks
When making a Heath Bar Cake, I find these tips and tricks are quite helpful:
Freeze the Heath Bars!
To prevent the Heath bars from melting while crushing them, it helps to freeze the bars for at least 20 minutes. I know that sounds weird - but it works!
Crushing the Heath Bars.
When it comes to crushing the bars, I prefer to do it before removing them from their wrappers for less mess. This method also makes it easier to work with the candy without touching the chocolate directly.
Poking the holes!
Most people use a fork to poke the holes in their poke cakes, but personally I find that leaves you with holes that are way too small to soak up the ingredients well. I like to use the back of a wooden spoon for nice big holes! You can use any clean utensil of a similar size.
Don't skip the chill time.
You want to make sure the cake is well chilled before topping with your whipped topping, or you risk a big melty mess. Letting the cake sit for a while also lets the flavors of that condensed milk and caramel sauce really soak into the cake.
Storing the Heath Bar Cake
In the Refrigerator
You can store the cake for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. It should be covered tightly with plastic wrap or stored in a covered container.
In the Freezer
To freeze your poke cake, cover the cake or store individual servings in airtight containers. The cake will stay fresh for up to 3 months in the freezer. When you are ready to eat, simply remove from the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge.
Use a boxed cake mix.
As I said, I prefer a fully homemade cake. But you can also just use a boxed cake mix for the base cake, following the package directions and then proceed from the step where you start poking holes in it. If you're going this route, I recommend using a German Chocolate Cake Mix or Devil's Food Cake Mix. You could also make this with a yellow cake mix if you want less chocolate flavor.
Use a premade whipped topping.
If making your own whipped topping sounds like too much work, feel free to use a store bought version like Cool Whip.
Add a cream cheese layer.
Another delicious idea is to add a layer of cream cheese filling to the cake. To do this, mix an 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese with 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. After poking holes in the baked cake, spread the cream cheese mixture over the top. Then, drizzle your caramel sauce and condensed milk as usual, followed by the layer of whipped topping and a generous sprinkling of Heath Bar pieces.
Add some fruit!
If you like a little fruity flavor in your desserts, try incorporating a layer of fruit preserves or fresh fruit. Some popular choices are raspberry or strawberry preserves and fresh sliced strawberries or raspberries.
Experiment with toppings.
While the traditional Heath Bar pieces remain a family favorite in my house, you could try mixing in other candy bar pieces, such as Snickers or Butterfinger. If you don't have Heath Bars but love the flavor, you can use chopped up chocolate and toffee bits as a substitute. Or, get even more creative and try toppings like crushed cookies, pretzels, or even potato chips for a unique salty-sweet combination.
These are just a few of the many possible variations to the classic Heath Bar Cake. Remember, the key is to have fun and get creative with your dessert!
More Tasty Dessert Ideas
If you love this Heath Bar Cake, be sure to check out these other delicious recipes:
- 21+ Creative Poke Cake Recipes
- Lucky Charms Cookies
- Strawberry Poke Cake
- 35+ Insanely Good Summer Dessert Recipes
Heath Bar Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup buttermilk room temperature
- ½ cup melted butter
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot coffee or substitute hot water
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- ¾ cup caramel sauce
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 4 Heath Bars chopped or crushed
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan and set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
- Pour the wet ingredient mixture into the dry ingredient mixture and stir until combined.
- Add the hot coffee
- Mix until the batter is smooth
- Transfer the cake batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick or sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- When the cake is finished baking, remove it from the oven. While cake is still warm, poke holes all over the surface of the cake using a clean utensil, such as the back of a wooden spoon.
- Pour the condensed milk and caramel sauce over the surface of the cake.
- Allow the cake to cool and then chill in fridge for at least an hour
- To prepare the whipped topping: In a stand mixer, whip together the heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.
- Spread over top of the chilled cake.
- Top with the chopped Heath Bars and serve!