Chocolate Cake with Ganache and Praline Topping

I love to eat baked goods.  Well, who doesn’t.  But I don’t actually like baking very much until I randomly find inspiration.  This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetite magazine, to make cupcakes.  I gave most of them away, but I told myself that it was ok to keep a few.  Well, I ate four.  In one day.  This recipe has many parts but it is delicious for any occasion.  The cake is moist, and the bittersweet ganache balances the sugary and nutty topping.  Unfortunately, the picture does not do it justice.


For the cake 

  • non- stick vegetable spray
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the ganache

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream

For the praline

2 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted, chopped

For the cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9-inch cake pan with non-stick spray.  Line with parchment.  Spray parchment.  Dust with flour, tapping out any excess.  Place butter and cocoa powder in medium bowl.  Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over; stir.  Let stand 2 minutes; whisk until blended.  Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in another medium bowl.  Whisk buttermilk, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Gradually whisk cocoa mixture into buttermilk mixture; whisk until smooth.  Add flour mixture in 3 additions (batter will be thin).  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Run knife around pan edges to release cake.  Invert onto rack; remove pan and parchment and cool completely.

For the ganache

Place chocolate and cream in a small pot and melt the chocolate over very low (careful not to burn).  Once melted, stir in butter.  Let stand until spreadable, about 30 minutes.  Spread all over the top and sides of cake.  Transfer to cake plate and chill for  2 hours or up to 1 day.

For the praline

Stir first 3 ingredients in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat until butter melts.  Boil 1 minute without stirring.  Remove from heat; whisk in sugar and vanilla.  Add pecans; stir just until combined.  Quickly pour the praline over the cake.  Spread just to edges.

This cake recipe is labor intensive.  If you don’t feel like spending all day baking then use a boxed cake and spice it up with the ganache and praline.


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