Chocolate Praline Cake: From Bake-Off winner to birthday favorite

pralineIn 1988 a college music professor made music for the mouth when she created the Chocolate Praline Cake and won the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Julie (Konecne) Bengtson of Minnesota received $40,000 plus a kitchen makeover for this praline-topped chocolate cake that appealed to the indulgent times. Through the years, I have baked and adapted this cake. My family loves it. It appeared in the Cake Mix Doctor cookbooks, and now I adapt it for my mixes.

The method is dead-easy. You stir together butter, cream, and brown sugar over heat until bubbly, pour this into two layer pans, top with chopped pecans and then pour over chocolate cake batter. This recipe works well with my Classic Chocolate cake mix because my mix has deep chocolate flavor and a moist, rich texture. When you flip the layers out to cool, my cake underneath supports the praline, and you can stack the layers without any crumbling or splitting. The only garnish needed is whipped cream.

The secret to success is first to spray the bottom of the pans with vegetable oil, line them with parchment paper, then spray with oil again. Now pour in the warm caramel and sprinkle pecans on top. Pop the pans in the fridge while you make the batter and preheat the oven.

That little bit of chilling time keeps the praline cool, and it remains separate from the cake batter when the cake bakes. It makes for easier unmolding, too. If, by chance, any of the praline sticks to the pan when unmolding, just press it back onto the cake. This cake is really foolproof – you will see!
Wouldn’t it have been nice back in 1988 if there had been a better, all-natural cake mix to use in great recipes like this? At least, now there is. Enjoy!

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