Just to look at this heavenly chocolate cake will make your mouth water! Honestly, this is definitely one of the best cakes I've eaten. It's a triple layered moist chocolate cake with a rich ganache filling and a homemade toasted pecan candy-like praline icing on top that runs over the sides. In Ina Garten's words, "How can that be bad!?!"
This is such a wonderful cake to make.....the second time around. The first time I baked this cake was for my husband whenever he graduated from his undergrad, in December '07. I decided to make this particular cake because it looked like a very special cake meant for a Christmastime occasion. This cake isn't only reserved for the best because it is simply beautiful and irresistible (although it is) but because it was a pill to make the first time around. This was my very first totally made from scratch, and when working in a tiny apartment kitchen with little counter top space it was a challenge! One mistake I made was not greasing and flouring the pans nearly enough, therefore causing some of the edges of the cake to stay in the pan. The cake turned out a little lopsided, but with all the frosting you couldn't really tell. I do believe that baking this in a larger kitchen made everything a bit easier this time, and so it turned out straight and more beautiful! I thoroughly enjoyed the baking process this time. I love to roast nuts in the oven and allow them to fragrance my home, and licking the silky cake batter off of the wooden spoon after the cakes are in, and watching the bits of rich chocolate melt slowly into the cream and butter as the ganache comes together. *Sigh.
I am learning more about this cake each time I make it. The last time I made it the night before my husbands birthday, because I always think cake are better whenever they sit for a day or two. The next time though, I think that I will bake the cake and spread the ganache on the night before, but I'm going to wait to make and put the praline icing on until soon before eating, or at least the day of. You will know exactly why whenever you make this and you are pouring the hot pecan praline icing over the cake and it is still glistening and buttery. The warm icing just about 1 hr. after pouring it on would be a perfect time to eat this cake. So you will have the best of both worlds: a moist cake, and warm icing!
If you make this delicious cake, I hope that you enjoy every step of the process and take in all the delicious smells and tastes along the way. Perfect with a hot cup of coffee or cold glass of milk. Although we never want anything else, a scoop of butter pecan ice cream would make this dessert over the top! This cake reminds me of why I love chocolate and the holidays!
1c. butter or margarine
1/4c. baking cocoa
1tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Cook first three ingredients in a saucepan, stirring constantly, until butter melts and mixture is smooth; remove from heat. Cool.
Beat buttermilk, and next 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add butter mixture to buttermilk mixture, beating until blended. Combine sugar, flour and salt; gradually add to buttermilk mixture, beating till blended. (Batter will be thin.)
Coat 3 (8 in.) round cake pans with non stick spray (I use the one specifically for baking) and line the bottoms with was paper. Pour batter evenly into pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 22-24 mines or until set. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove carefully from pans and cool layers completely. I do not remove paper from cakes until they are completely cooled.
Spread about 1/2 c. ganache between cake layers; spread remainder on sides of cake only (not on top). Chill cake 1/2 hour. Pour frosting slowly over the top of cake; spreading to edges, allowing some frosting to run over the sides. Freeze if desired; thaw at room tempurature 4-6 hours. Garnish with chopped pecans, if desired.
Makes 10-12 servings.
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 c whipping cream
1/4 c. butter or margarine, cut into pieces
I use a double boiler (a large bowl over a pan of simmering water) to melt the chocolate chips and whipping cream together. Almost constantly stirring until the chocolate is very smooth.Gradually add the butter. Cool, whisking often, 15-20 minutes or until spreading consistency. Makes about 2 cups.
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/3c whipping cream
1c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. chopped pecans, toasted
Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a 2 qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Boil for one minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add toasted pecans, stirring gently 2-5 minutes or until frosting begins to thicken slightly. Pour immediately over cake. Makes about 1 3/4 cups.
*This is a candy-like frosting that hardens quickly, so make it right before pouring it over the cake.