kandy kake

A Coalcracker in the Kitchen

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).

Vintage Tandy Takes Box

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.

Read the whole article and find the recipe on A Coalcracker in the Kitchen