This haunted house's towering cookie facade, candy details, and golden caramel windows are guaranteed to become the stuff of legend—that is, should anyone who ventures near live to tell the tale. A winding nougat staircase leads up the chocolate buttercream grounds to the entrance, where a construction-paper caretaker hovers just inside, waiting for the next unsuspecting visitor.

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • To assemble the cake: Secure one 11-inch cake layer to corresponding-size round foam board with a dab of chocolate buttercream. Spread 2 cups buttercream on top. Stack another 11-inch cake on top of buttercream, and frost as before. Top with remaining 11-inch cake. Spread 1 cup buttercream over top and sides of tier, scraping lightly to create a thin layer, or crumb coat, and refrigerate until frosting is firm, about 30 minutes. Spread 2 cups buttercream over entire tier until smooth.

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  • Repeat with 9-inch cake layers on second foam board, using 1 cup frosting between layers, 1/2 cup for crumb coat, and 1 cup for the final coat.

  • Trim 5 dowels to height of 9-inch tier and 6 to height of 11-inch tier. Insert dowels in corresponding tiers in a circle, 2 1/2 inches from the edge of cake. Center 9-inch tier over 11-inch tier, pressing gently to secure. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (#806) with remaining buttercream. Pipe pearls around bottoms of tiers for a border, as shown below. (Cake can be refrigerated up to 3 days before proceeding.)

  • Make the steps: Fill a small bowl with cocoa powder. Cut torrone into 2-to 2 1/2-inch-long blocks. Cut toothpicks in half (1 for each block). Roll torrone in cocoa powder to coat. Insert toothpicks into torrone blocks, and push blocks into cake, starting from top of 9-inch tier and curving to bottom of 11-inch tier. Using a vegetable peeler, shave milk chocolate; sprinkle over tops of tiers.

  • Finish the cake: Carefully transfer assembled cookie house to top of cake. Press cookie doors into cake in front of house. Decorate cake with cookie tree, tombstones, and candy cats, if desired. Press caretaker cutout onto top of cake, behind door. Arrange a flashlight behind cake to shine through door and windows.

Cook's Notes

You will need to photocopy this caretaker template; trace onto black construction paper. You will also need a flashlight (for illuminating the caretaker); one 9-inch and one 11-inch round foam board; 11 round wooden dowels (1/4-inch diameter each); and toothpicks for this recipe.

Variations

Other types of nougat can be used in place of the torrone.

Reviews (18)

78 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 22
  • 4 star values: 24
  • 3 star values: 14
  • 2 star values: 16
  • 1 star values: 2
Rating: Unrated
11/16/2011
Devil's Food cake and the labor-intensive buttercream recipe was the best I've ever had. Very difficult to find 11" pan, but the 12" I used worked great. Made only 2 of each layer & the cake was still HUGE. Made the cake & frosting the day before, as well as frosted the layers. On Halloween I made the cookies, which will crack if burned! Accidentally used 1/2 stick too much butter in cookie dough, but it was still delicious. Used brownies for stairs, worked great.
Rating: Unrated
10/30/2010
The sugar
Rating: Unrated
10/30/2010
The sugar
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Rating: Unrated
10/30/2010
The sugar
Rating: Unrated
10/30/2010
The sugar was a real challenge, but after reading the comments about putting the heat higher I turned the sucker up to 1 notch below high and guess what?? After a few excruciating moments of thinking I was going to get crystals again I noticed an amber color beginning. I stirred the sugar so that it would rotate to the bottom where it was burning and therefore turning amber. I have an electric stove if that makes a difference.
Rating: Unrated
10/15/2010
Every single thing you need for a recipe should be on one page, you should NOT have look through to make sure you got all the links ie. how to make the trees, etc. I can think of nothing more frustrating than if one were to begin making a recipe and realized they inadvertently neglected to copy some crucial information for how to add something that really made a difference in looks! There is no real reason why the data simply could not be added to the Haunted-House Cake recipe page.
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Rating: Unrated
10/11/2010
I am going to make this cake for a little girls birthday next week. I am no "Martha Stewart" and I love making things as easy as possible. I purchased a pre-assembled gingerbread haunted house from Wal-Mart ($9) and will be using icing to decorate it. I will be using milky way candy bars (in the freezer for 15 minutes for easier cutting) instead of tarrone. What is tarrone anyways?! II am going to use boxed cake mixes and use my standard chocolate butter cream icing recipe. I know this cake will
Rating: Unrated
10/11/2010
I am going to make this cake for a little girls birthday next week. I am no "Martha Stewart" and I love making things as easy as possible. I purchased a pre-assembled gingerbread haunted house from Wal-Mart ($9) and will be using icing to decorate it. I will be using milky way candy bars (in the freezer for 15 minutes for easier cutting) instead of tarrone. What is tarrone anyways?! II am going to use boxed cake mixes and use my standard chocolate butter cream icing recipe. I know this cake will
Rating: Unrated
08/05/2009
Could we have a larger picture so we can see the details please?
Rating: Unrated
11/18/2008
I made this cake for a halloween party. It turned out beautiful and delicious! I think it was the best cake that I made so far! The frosting was delicious! I didnt have any problems with the cookie breaking, I think others made it to thin. I did have a problem with the windows, but I realized that they left out the caro syrp. after that it was great! Martha you are the best!
Rating: Unrated
11/06/2008
I made this cake for our Halloween themed wedding reception. I was determined to have a cake I loved after paying an arm and a leg for a wedding cake that looked nothing like what I ordered. I was very impressed that it not only looked incredible, but tasted amazing. It was time consuming, but worth it. This was my first major baking project and it came out perfectly. No one could believe I made it. Thanks for the recipe!
Rating: Unrated
11/04/2008
Emily,Jill,charlotte are woundering how the birthay cake turned out.we did not have the frosting problem because we bought it.but our cookie dough turned out not in bits instead it made a strong facade and a spooky tree.do not spend 15 hours on the cake and the frosting JUST BUY BUY BUY BUY IT.have fun making the facade and spooky tree.
Rating: Unrated
10/31/2008
...side, and if it doesn't look right in the morning from spending the night in the fridge, then I am just going to have to suck it in and add meringue powder. I was wondering if anyone else was having this problem? I followed the recipe word for word. It looked fine, until I added the chocolate to it. Then it started to thin out. Any suggestions?
Rating: Unrated
10/31/2008
I am in the process of making this cake for a birthday party I am throwing for my friend tomorrow. I have probably spent roughly 6 hours on it already. Not an easy cake to master. I haven't gotten to the cookies yet, that is the last thing I am planning to do, but I am still not sure if I am going to. My only concern is how my frosting turned out. I made some caramel buttercream as well to go with this cake, but I don't think the chocolate buttercream came out quite right. It's on the soupier...
Rating: Unrated
10/30/2008
I made the haunted house cookie using the recipe provided, very aware that the cookie would be tricky. I stuck to the recipe, I measured carefully, but I have to report the recipe is a disaster. It is just not up for being rolled out for cookie cutting. It is too crumbly. Save yourself a heap of time and curses, ignore this cookie dough recipe and find one that isn't gong to break into bits. When cooked the house is brittle and begging to break when you so much as look at it. Waste of time.
Rating: Unrated
10/30/2008
Dont make this cake unless you know what you are doing. It took me 15 hours to make this cake following the recipe. It was delicious!
Rating: Unrated
10/28/2008
Emily 12, Charlotte 11 and Jill adult are having fun making this delicious recipe. We had a blast! We took lots of short cuts! Make the chocolate cookies but don't bother makimg the frosting nor the cake,just buy the cake mix and the frosting!DON'T FORGET to enlarge the templates and make two triangles!!!!! Have fun!!!
Rating: Unrated
10/26/2008
This looks amazing!