This chocolate praline cake is 4 layers of soft, rich and moist chocolate cake with silky smooth milk chocolate ganache and crunchy praline pecans. It’s covered in fluffy chocolate frosting, a stunningly easy chocolate drip, and more praline pecans on top. Each component is straightforward and easy to make. It's a stunningly decadent chocolate cake that will satisfy every craving and leave you asking for another slice!
- 🎂 Why you'll LOVE this recipe
- 📝 Key ingredients
- 👩🍳 How to make chocolate praline cake
- 🥄 Make ahead and storage
- ✔️ Easy Praline Pecans
- ❔ Why is milk chocolate ganache the best filling?
- ✔️ How to get the perfect drip
- 🍰 Tips to decorate a perfect layer cake
- 📖 Recipe FAQs
- 🍫 More related recipes
- 📖 Recipe
🎂 Why you'll LOVE this recipe
- Rich, moist, fluffy chocolate cake: This cake was updated with new cake layers inspired by this black velvet cake recipe. They turn out soft, rich, moist, and have the best texture and flavor.
- Milk chocolate: The filling is a milky, silky, 2 ingredient milk chocolate ganache. It isn’t overly sweet and combined with the praline pecans tastes very similar to a Toblerone chocolate bar.
- Praline Pecans: Crunchy, toasted, sugar covered pecans. This recipe makes a little bit extra because they make the perfect snack. Or buy premade praline pecans.
- Easy: Despite there being a lot of components, they're easy and straightforward to make.
📝 Key ingredients
This cake has 5 main components: The layers, the two ingredient milk chocolate ganache, praline pecans, chocolate buttercream, and easy chocolate drip.
You can omit the buttercream and chocolate drip for a naked cake to save on time and ingredients. The star of the show is really the rich chocolate layers, praline, and milk chocolate ganache.
Read through for all the tips you will need for success!
Full steps and ingredients in recipe card below.
Chocolate cake layer ingredients
Have all of the cake layer ingredients at room temperature for even mixing and an even cake crumb texture.
- Dutch processed cocoa powder: This will give the cake lots of rich chocolate flavor and beautiful texture. Use natural cocoa powder for a slightly less intense flavor and color.
- Buttermilk: Keeps the layers rich and moist. I recommend using store-bought buttermilk or kefir if you can't find buttermilk.
- Oil & butter: Both fats give the layers the best texture and flavor. Oil keeps them moist and fluffy for days, and butter gives them that rich, buttery flavor.
- All purpose flour: Weigh the flour to get the most accurate results. If you don’t have a scale, measure properly by stirring the bag and spooning gently into a measuring cup. Scrape the excess off the top with the flat edge off a knife without packing it into the cup.
Milk chocolate ganache and praline ingredients
- Milk chocolate: Use good quality milk chocolate bars. You will need two giant 10 oz (300g) bars, or an equivalent amount of smaller bars. I don't recommend using milk chocolate chips because it might not make a smooth ganache.
- Heavy cream: You need whipping cream or 35% cream for the milk chocolate ganache and the chocolate drip.
- Pecans: Raw pecan halves work best, they will toast up well in the oven.
Chocolate frosting ingredients
- Butter: Good quality real unsalted butter will give you the best results. Use softened butter so it whips up faster.
- Cocoa powder: Use dutch processed cocoa powder for a richer flavor. For a more subtle flavor and lighter color, use natural cocoa powder.
- Heavy whipping cream: 35% cream makes the frosting extra fluffy and lucsious.
👩🍳 How to make chocolate praline cake
I like to start off with making the praline pecans, then baking the layers and making the ganache. While the cake layers cool, whip up the chocolate frosting and prepare the drip.
Praline pecan step by step
Prep: Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Step 1: In a large bowl, briefly whisk egg white, vanilla, and salt until frothy. Add pecan halves and toss to coat.
Step 2: Add sugar and cinnamon into the pecans and toss to coat. Transfer onto baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 45 minutes, checking and mixing every 10 minutes to prevent burning. Take them out when golden and crisp.
Cake layers step by step
Prep: Preheat oven to 355°F (180°C). Butter two 8" round baking pans and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.
Step 1: Pour boiling hot water into cocoa powder and whisk to remove any lumps. Set aside to cool while making the batter.
Step 2: Use an electric mixer to beat softened butter, oil, sugar, and salt until light and creamy.
Step 3: Add vanilla, and eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add buttermilk, vinegar, and beat to combine.
Step 4: Sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda into the same bowl. Fold with a wire whisk until mostly combined.
Step 5: Pour cocoa powder and hot water mixture into the cake batter and fold until no more dry streaks of flour remain.
Step 6: Divide cake batter evenly between two buttered and lined cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs attached.
Let cool for 10 minutes before flipping them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Tip: Don't overmix the batter when adding flour or you will be left with dense cake layers.
Milk chocolate ganache filling step by step
Step 1: Place chopped milk chocolate in a large bowl. Pour cream on top. Melt chocolate on top of a double boiler (saucepan filled with simmering hot water), or in the microwave in 7 second increments.
Step 2: Whisk until fully smooth and melted. Place the bowl of ganache into the freezer to cool, mixing every 5-10 minutes until the ganache becomes the consistency of thick frosting and holds its shape.
Chocolate frosting step by step
Step 1: Beat softened butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl frequently.
Step 2: Add vanilla and salt, beat until combined. Add cocoa powder and beat. Add cream gradually, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating well to combine. Set aside at room temperature until ready to frost.
Assembly step by step
Step 1: Cut each cake layer in half to create double the amount of layers. Use a long serrated bread knife and a sawing motion to create even layers.
Step 2: Spread a third of the thickened milk chocolate ganache on top of the cake layer.
Tip: If the ganache becomes too thick, soften it with a short burst in the microwave or on top of a saucepan of simmering water. You want a thick frosting spreadable consistency.
Step 3: Sprinkle chopped praline pecans liberally on top of the ganache. Repeat with the rest of the layers until you get to the last cake layer.
Step 4: Spread chocolate frosting liberally on top and the sides of the cake. Use a long spatula or bench scraper to smooth the sides.
Step 5: Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl and pour boiling cream on top. Let sit for a few minutes before whisking. Let cool briefly (pop it in the freezer) before pouring onto the middle of the cake. Spread over the edges to let the chocolate drip down.
Step 6: Place the cake into the freezer for a few minutes to set the drip. Top with more praline pecans.
Serving Tip: The cake is best served at room temperature. Serve within an hour or two, or refrigerate and let it come back to room temperature before serving.
🥄 Make ahead and storage
The best part about this chocolate praline cake is that you can make it ahead of time! I do recommend pouring on the drip the day of so that it stays shiny.
You can make and bake the layers a day ahead of assembling the cake. Cover them so that they don't dry out and leave at room temperature.
The cake can be filled and frosted the day before. Use a cake container/carrier to store it overnight in the fridge so the frosting doesn't get ruined. It will also prevent the cake from drying out and tasting like fridge.
The praline pecans can be made up to a week or two ahead of time. Store in an airtight container at room temperature and try not to eat them all!
✔️ Easy Praline Pecans
It’s so easy to make praline pecans with this method here. Usually praline pecans involve cooking a caramel syrup and using it to coat the pecans. I prefer to make a candied pecan version because it’s so much easier. The egg white helps the sugar to stick and creates a crunchy coating.
The cinnamon really brings out that toasty warm praline flavor, you really don’t taste it much! If you don’t like cinnamon you can leave it out but I highly recommend it.
❔ Why is milk chocolate ganache the best filling?
It’s silky smooth, incredibly flavorful and not overly sweet or bitter! The only downside is that it requires a lot of milk chocolate to make - but it’s totally worth it. Milk chocolate ganache requires a higher ratio of chocolate to cream than dark or semi-sweet chocolate because it sets softer.
Don’t use milk chocolate chips because they may not emulsify and melt together properly. I recommend using a good quality milk chocolate bar. You can find extra large 10 oz (300g) chocolate bars at most grocery stores.
The chocolate and cream are melted together to form a smooth filling. It then needs to be chilled until it becomes a spreadable consistency. I pop it into the freezer and give it a good mix every 5-10 minutes.
If you prefer dark chocolate, this triple chocolate cake has a whipped dark chocolate ganache filling.
✔️ How to get the perfect drip
The perfect drip relies on the temperature and consistency of the ganache. You want it to be at room temperature and about as thick as chocolate syrup.
The best way to go about it is to pour some on the back edge of the chocolate praline cake and see if you like the way it drips! If the drip is too thick, put the cup of ganache into hot water or blast it in the microwave for a few seconds to thin it out. If the drip is too thin, pop it into the freezer for a minute before trying again.
To get more uniform drips you can use a piping bag or a bottle with a thin tip. I prefer a more organic drip so I just poured and spread with a spatula.
For a unique drip, check out this biscoff cake with a biscoff cookie drip!
🍰 Tips to decorate a perfect layer cake
- Rotating cake stand: Use a I highly recommend a rotating cake stand like this one. You can use a Lazy Susan as well! It will make it so much easier to get all around the cake.
- Crumb coat: Spread a thin layer of frosting all over the top and sides. Pop it in the freezer for 10 minutes before giving a final, thicker layer of frosting all around. This helps lock in all the crumbs and create a smooth finish. It is optional though, I didn't do this.
- Take your time: Use long spatulas or a cake scraper and take your time to get a smooth finish. scrape your spatula clean every time you take a swipe to smooth the frosting.
- Air bubbles: Heat up a clean metal spatula slightly with a kitchen torch and smooth the sides of the cake to get rid of any bubbles and smooth the sides further.
- Add a drip: Chocolate drips are easy to make and help elevate any cake!
If you want more nutty flavor, use the nutella frosting in these ferrero rocher cupcakes instead of the chocolate buttercream.
📖 Recipe FAQs
That is probably because it was too warm. Pop it into the freezer for 10 minutes, stirring and scraping the sides halfway through to get it to thicken up a bit.
Measure the flour properly. I use a scale to weigh the flour for the most accurate results. If you don’t have a scale on hand, you can measure the flour properly using dry measuring cups. Mix your flour with a spoon, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level off the top with the flat edge of a knife without packing in the flour. It isn’t as accurate as using a scale but is the next best option!
After adding the flour and cocoa powder into the cake batter, only fold the batter just until you stop seeing ribbons of dry ingredients. Overmixing will cause too much gluten to form which will make your cake dry and tough. I recommend using a whisk to fold because it will break up most of the clumps of flour.
You could use either natural or dutch processed. In this cake, I recommend using dutch processed cocoa powder because it will give you a richer flavor and softer texture. Dutch processed will just have an extra alkaline ingredient in the cocoa powder. Natural cocoa powder will have only cocoa powder.
Use good quality milk chocolate bars. You can find large 10oz (300g) milk chocolate bars in grocery stores in the chocolate aisle. You will need two large chocolate bars. I don't recommend using milk chocolate chips because your ganache might seize up and not melt.
You can also use two 9″ round or three 8" round baking pans, the layers will just be a bit thinner. Reduce the baking time by about 10 minutes.
🍫 More related recipes
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Chocolate Praline Cake
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon ground
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 4 cups pecan halves raw
- 1 cup dutch cocoa powder dutch processed (see notes)
- 1 cup water boiling hot
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup vegetable oil I use grapeseed oil
- 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon vinegar white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour 300g
- 20 oz milk chocolate 600g
- 1 ¼ cup heavy whipping cream 35%
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup cocoa powder dutch or natural
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream 35% cold
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream 35%
- ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). In a large bowl, whisk together egg white, vanilla, and salt until slightly frothy. Add pecans and mix to coat.1 large egg white, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon sea salt, 4 cups pecan halves
- Add sugar and cinnamon into the pecans. Mix well to coat.¾ cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Pour coated pecans onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, mixing the pecans every 10 minutes to prevent burning. They are ready when the pecans are golden with a crisp sugary exterior.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature (if making ahead).
- Grease two 8” round cake pans (see alternatives in notes) with a piece of cold butter and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Add cocoa powder into a medium heat safe bowl. Pour boiling hot water and whisk until no more lumps remain. Set aside to cool while making the batter.1 cup dutch cocoa powder, 1 cup water
- Use an electric mixer to beat softened butter, oil, sugar, and salt until light and creamy.½ cup unsalted butter, ½ cup vegetable oil, 1 ½ cup granulated sugar, ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add buttermilk, vinegar, and beat to combine.4 large eggs, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 cup buttermilk
- Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into the same bowl. Fold with a wire whisk until mostly combined.2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- Pour cocoa powder and hot water mixture into the cake batter and fold until no more dry streaks of flour remain.
- Divide cake batter evenly between two buttered and lined cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs attached. Let cool for 10 minutes before flipping them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- I like to start the ganache before the cake layers to give it plenty of time to cool. Bring a pot with a few inches of water to a simmer on the stove. Find a large heat safe bowl that fits on top of the pot.
- Chop the chocolate with a serrated knife and place into the bowl. Pour cream over the chocolate.20 oz milk chocolate, 1 ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- Place bowl on top of the pot of simmering water and mix the ganache gently with a spatula. Stir frequently so it melts evenly. Once the chocolate is mostly melted, whisk with a wire whisk to help it come together and become smooth. Alternatively, melt in the microwave in 7 second increments stirring frequently.
- Take it off the heat. Place the bowl of ganache into the freezer to cool, mixing every 5-10 minutes until the ganache becomes the consistency of thick frosting and holds its shape.
- Beat softened butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl frequently. This will take 7-10 minutes.1 ½ cups unsalted butter, 3 cups powdered sugar
- Add vanilla and salt, beat until combined. Add cocoa powder and beat.¼ teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, ¾ cup cocoa powder
- Add cream gradually, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating well to combine. Set aside at room temperature until ready to frost.⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
- Bring the cream to a simmer in a pot on the stove. Place chocolate chips into a medium heat safe bowl.½ cup heavy whipping cream, ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Pour the cream over the chocolate, cover, and let sit for a few minutes. Whisk together until smooth. Set aside in a large cup or bowl until ready to use.
- Start off by slicing each cake layer in half horizontally to create 4 layers total. Use a large serrated bread knife and a sawing motion
- Place a dollop of ganache onto the bottom of a cake board or cake stand. Place the first layer onto the cake board and cover with a third of the milk chocolate ganache. Sprinkle chopped praline pecans over the ganache. Place the next cake layer on top, repeating with the ganache and the praline pecans until you get to the last layer. If the ganache is too thick and difficult to work with, warm it up on top of a pot of hot water or blasting it in the microwave a few seconds at a time.
- Frost the outside of the cake with chocolate buttercream. Smooth it out with a long metal spatula or a cake scraper.
- Test the drip on the back of the cake. If it’s too thick, heat it up by placing the cup of chocolate drip in a bit of hot water. If it’s too thin, wait another 5 minutes and try again. Pour the drip on top of the cake, spreading it out to the edges with a small offset spatula, letting it fall down the edges of the cake.
- Chill the cake for 5 minutes in the freezer to help set the drip and arrange more praline pecans along the top edge of the cake in a circle. Slice and serve the cake at room temperature.
- You can also use two 9″ round or three 8" round baking pans, the layers will just be a bit thinner. Reduce the baking time by about 10 minutes.
- The cake is best eaten at room temperature. That way the ganache is silky smooth. It hardens and becomes very stiff when cold.
- Cake leftovers will keep well wrapped tightly or in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer. Make sure to serve it at room temperature so that the ganache becomes soft again.
- If the ganache becomes to hard, blast it in the microwave at 5 second intervals and whisk in between until you get a workable consistency.