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Praline chocolate cake with chocolate drip

Chocolate Praline Cake

Mary
This chocolate praline cake is 4 layers of soft, rich 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. You don’t need an electric mixer for anything except for the buttercream on the outside.
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Chill Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 50 mins
Course Baking, Cake, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 15 people

Equipment

  • two 8" round pans

Ingredients
 
 

Praline Pecans

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon ground
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups raw pecan halves

Layers

  • 1 ½ cup water hot
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 ½ cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 ½ cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups all purpose flour 360g
  • 1 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

Filling

  • 35 oz milk chocolate 907g
  • 1 ⅔ cup heavy whipping cream

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cups icing sugar powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder dutch or natural
  • cup heavy whipping cream cold

Drip

  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
Makes: 8inch round

Instructions
 

Praline Pecans

  • Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Stir together sugar, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together egg white and vanilla to break up the egg white.
    1 large egg white, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon sea salt, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Place pecans in a large bowl. Pour egg white mixture on top of the pecans and toss well to coat. Pour sugar mixture into the pecans and mix well until all the pecans are coated.
    4 cups raw pecan halves
  • Pour coated pecans onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, mixing the pecans every 15 minutes to prevent them from burning. They are ready when the pecans are nice and golden with a crisp sugary exterior.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Store in airtight containers at room temperature (if making ahead).

Layers

  • Grease two 8” round cake pans with vegetable oil and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Add instant coffee into the hot water and stir until dissolved, set aside. If you won’t be using instant coffee, just set the hot water aside for later.
    1 ½ cup water, 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • In a very large bowl combine eggs, brown and granulated sugar, salt, and whisk until very well combined. Add buttermilk and vegetable oil, stir until combined.
    3 large eggs, 1 ½ cup brown sugar, 1 ½ cup granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon sea salt, 1 ½ cup buttermilk, 1 ½ cup vegetable oil
  • Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder right into the bowl. Use a whisk to gently fold the batter. Halfway through, add the hot water and instant coffee mixture. Fold just until you stop seeing streaks of dry flour.
    3 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup natural cocoa powder, 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda, 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pour the batter evenly into the prepared baking pans and bake for 35-45 minutes, or just until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove the baking pans from the oven and let cool at room temperature for 10 minutes before flipping them over onto a cooling rack. Use a small knife or spatula to run around the edges to release the cake easier. Let cool completely.

Filling

  • 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.
    35 oz milk chocolate, 1 ⅔ 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 that it melts evenly and doesn’t burn. Once the chocolate is mostly melted, whisk with a wire whisk to help it come together and become smooth.
  • Take it off the heat and transfer to a different container to help cool faster. Place into the freezer, giving the ganache a good mix every 5-10 minutes until the ganache becomes the consistency of thick frosting and holds its shape. This will take about 30 minutes.

Chocolate Buttercream

  • Beat the butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or stand mixer with the paddle attachment until very light and fluffy. This will take about 7-10 minutes. Scrape the bowl a few times in between.
    1 ½ cups unsalted butter, 3 cups icing sugar, ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Sift the cocoa powder into the buttercream. Beat well, scraping the bowl, and beating well again.
    ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • Add vanilla to the buttercream. Add the cream gradually, beating well until fluffy and scraping down the bowl halfway.
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
  • Fold the buttercream with a spatula to remove any large air pockets or use a stand mixer on the lowest speed for a minute. This helps to get a perfectly smooth frosting for a smooth finish.

Drip

  • 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 7 minutes. Whisk together until smooth. Set aside in a large cup with a spout until ready to use.

Assembly

  • Start off by slicing each cake layer in half horizontally to create 4 layers total. Use a large serrated bread knife and a turntable to help you. Holding the knife blade parallel to the table, cut shallow cuts all the way around the middle of the cake, turning the cake every time, until you get to the middle. Do this for the other cake so you get 4 layers total.
  • 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 ½” thick layer of milk chocolate ganache. Sprinkle chopped praline pecans liberally 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. Cover the whole outside of the cake with the remaining milk chocolate ganache to seal in all the crumbs. 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.
  • Chill the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes if the ganache is tacky before covering and smoothing with buttercream. Press praline pecans onto the bottom third of the cake.
  • 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. Tap the bottom of the cake to help the drip travel down.
  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.
  • You can also use two 9″ cake pans to make the cake, the layers will just be a bit thinner.
Make ahead:
You can make the cake layers a day ahead of decorating. Just wrap tightly and leave at room temperature.
I recommend making the filling the day of filling the cake, that way it's much easier to work with.
The cake can be made the day before serving, just store in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for a few hours before serving so that the ganache softens up again.
Keyword Chocolate praline, milk chocolate praline cake, praline pecans
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