Thursday, January 04, 2007

Chocolate Praline Cake from a mix (outstanding!)

Here's a show-stopper of a dessert, a fancy layered thing with a quick praline of butter, brown sugar, cream and pecans in the bottom of the pans, and chocolate batter on top. You sandwich the layers with sweetened whipped cream. Works well with a pudding-in-the mix cake, but if you want to use plain devil's food cake mix, that works great too.

  • Preparation time: 12 minutes
  • Baking Time: 35-37 minutes
  • Assembly time: 15 minutes
  • 8 T. (one stick) butter, cut up
  • 1/4 C. heaving (whipping) cream
  • 1 C. packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 C. chopped pecans
  • 1 package of devils food cake mix with/without pudding
  • 1 C. water
  • 1/2 C. vegetable oil (canola, corn, safflower, soybean, sunflower)
  • 3 large eggs
  • Sweetened Cream (see below) made with 1 C. heavy whipping cream and 1/4 C. confectioners' sugar
  • 1 square (1 oz) semisweet chocolate, grated or shaved for garnish

  1. Place rack in center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set aside two 9-inch round cake pans.

    (NOTE: Alternatively, for a cake that totes easily to other locations, bake this cake in a 9x13 inch baking pan for 55 minutes. Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan, and then invert the cake onto a serving platter. Let it cool completely, then frost with the sweetened cream and garnish with the grated chocolate. Not as high-impact visually, but still an attractive cake that everyone will devour!)

  2. Place the butter, cream and brown sugar in a small heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the butter is melted, 3 minutes. Pour the mixture evenly into the cake pan(s) and sprinkle it evenly with the chopped pecans. Set aside. (I won't tell if you lick the saucepan too...YUM!)

  3. Place the cake mix, water, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides again if needed. The batter should look well combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pan(s), pouring over the pecan mixture, then smoothing it out with the spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.

  4. Bake the cakes until they spring back when lighly pressed with your fingers, 35 to 37 minutes. Remove them from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack to cool, praline side up.

  5. Meanwhile, prepare the sweetened cream.

    Place a clean, large mixing bowl and electric mixer in the freezer for a few minutes while you assemble the ingredients (1 cup heavy whipping cream and 1/4 Cup confectioners' sugar). Pour the whipping cream into the chilled bowl and beat with the electric mixer on high speed until the cream has thickened, 1 1/2 minutes. Stop and add the sugar. Beat the cream and sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes more. Makes enough to generously fill or thinly frost a 2 layer cake, 12-cup bundt cake, 10-inch tube cake or 9x13-inch sheet cake.

  6. Grate the semisweet chocolate for the garnish.

  7. Place one cake layer, praline side up, on a serving platter and spread half the sweetened cream on top. Place the second layer, praline side up, on top of the first, and frost the top of it with the remaining cream, working with clean, smooth strokes. Scatter the grated chocolate on top of the cake. Slice and serve.

    * You can store this cake, covered loosely in waxed paper, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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