Friday, June 15, 2012

Chocolate Praline Cake

My grandmother and I decided to bake a cake together, and we figured we'd share it with the world while we were at it.  This is a chocolate praline cake with a boxed mix as the base, so don't be intimidated.  The reality is that this is a very easy cake to make, and it delivers impressive results.  It's perfect for making with your grandmother when you want to bake without putting too much thought into  your every move.  A box of devil's food cake mix, a few things to make a praline layer (my favorite part), and sweetened cream as the icing.  I'm talking easy, people!

Chocolate Praline Cake

8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter, cut up
¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup chopped pecans
1 box devil’s food cake mix w/pudding
1 cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
Sweetened cream
1 square (1 oz.) semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place butter, cream, and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan.  Cook over low heat, stirring, until the butter is melted, 3 minutes.  Pour the mixture evenly into the cake pans and sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans.  Set pans aside.

Combine cake mix, water, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer on low speed 1 minute.  Increase to medium speed and beat 2 more minutes.  Divide batter between pans, smoothing out over pecan mixture.

Bake cakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 35-37 minutes.  Cool on wire racks to cool 10 minutes.  Invert and cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare sweetened cream.  Grate semisweet chocolate for garnish.

Place one cake layer, praline side up, on a serving platter.  Spread half the sweetened cream on top.  Place second layer, praline side up, on top of the first and frost the top with remaining cream.  Scatter grated chocolate on top.

Sweetened Cream
1 cup heavy (whipping cream)
¼ cup powdered sugar

Place a clean, large mixing bowl and electric beaters in the freezer for a few minutes while you assemble cake ingredients.  Pour whipping cream into chilled bowl and beat with the electric mixer on high speed until the cream has thickened, 1 ½ minutes.  Stop the machine and add the sugar.  Beat on high until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 more minutes.

* To prepare the cake in a 9 x 13, bake 55 minutes.

You may remember my grandmother from "5-Ingredient Pumpkin Cupcakes," and you might thinking she still looks great.  You'd be right.  Grandmother is using a cup from the Measuring Cup Set to add brown sugar to the butter, etc. mixture.  The only problem with this part is that it's hard to keep your hands out of it once it's all cooked together.  I mean, it's a big pot of praline!

Heavy cream is measured into an Easy Read Measuring Cup.  Grandmother really does like these because they don't require picking them up to see measurements.

The recipe says nuts are supposed to be sprinkled on top of this stuff after it's already in the pans, but I jumped the gun and added them to the pan.  Perhaps that's why my gooey layer wanted to stay in the pans...  That's an Easy Read Measuring Cup with pecans, and I've got the Skinny Scraper in the pan.

Hello, Cake Pan Set!  These are wonderful because they've got handles.  I can't stress enough the handiness of handles when popping pans out of a 325-degree oven.

Grandmother suggested she and I take a silly picture to prove that we're human.  (Apparently people who post recipes online are found intimidating by some.)  This didn't turn out quite as Grandmother and I planned, but that's supposed to be me licking the scraper while her face says, "I'm shocked at your lack of sanitation!"  And yes, Grandmother and I licked everything - the beaters, the bowls - everything!  Grandmother said it's the most fun part, and I tend to agree with her wisdom.

Cakes are cooling on the Cooking Rack, but they're simply begging for me to pick at them in all their gooeyness.  Yum!  You may be able to tell here, but be prepared to help spread the praline topping when you flip your cakes.  By nature, it refuses to come out of a cake pan easily.

Sweetened cream: Freeze your Stainless Mixing Bowl with the beaters while the cakes bake, and then whip heavy cream with powdered sugar on high speed.  The cream is in an Easy Read Measuring Cup, and powdered sugar is in a cup from the Measuring Cup Set.  (How about that plate?  It gives me a bit of nostalgia.)

What do do after baking a cake?  How about a trip to the garden to pick an eggplant?  83 with the most impressive garden I've seen.  Welcome to my grandmother.

Me: "Grandmother, I'm happy to see how well your garden is doing this year.  I know it's a lot of hard work."
Grandmother: "You know, I'm happy to hear you say that.  A lot of people think it just grows!"

Have a great day, and make a cake!

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