Chocolate Praline Cake
In 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!
Bake the mix by package directions, but first pour the batter over an easy praline spread into the bottom of the pans. The cream, brown sugar, butter, and pecans in the praline bake into the most glorious caramel complement to chocolate cake. The secret to unmolding a perfect praline topping is to spray the bottom of the pans with vegetable oil, line with a round of parchment paper, then spray again. Then chill the praline-filled pans while you make the cake batter.
- Parchment paper
- Vegetable oil spray
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
- ¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup chopped pecans
- 1 package (18.25 ounces) Cake Mix Doctor Classic Chocolate mix
- ⅔ cup sour cream
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated chocolate or miniature chocolate chips, if desired
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut 2 rounds of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of two 8-inch round layer pans. Spray the bottom of the pans with vegetable oil, place the parchment rounds in the pans, then spray the parchment with oil.
- For the praline, place the butter, cream, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the butter has melted, 3 minutes. Divide the mixture between the two pans. Sprinkle the pecans over the top, dividing them between the two pans. Place the pans in the fridge while you make the cake batter.
- For the cake, place the cake mix, sour cream, oil, water, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the mixer speed to medium and blend for 1½ minutes, or until the batter is smooth. Divide the batter between the two pans, pouring it over the pecans. Place the pans in the oven side by side.
- Bake the cakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 35 to 40 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert onto a rack to cool praline-side up. Remove the parchment rounds.
- Meanwhile, prepare the whipped cream. Place the cream in a chilled large mixing bowl and beat on high speed until cream has thickened, 1 minute. Stop the machine and add the sugar. Beat the cream and sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes more.
- To assemble the cake, place one cooled layer on a cake stand, praline-side up. Spread with half of the whipped cream. Place the second layer on top of the first, and dollop the remaining whipped cream in the center of the cake. Garnish with grated chocolate or mini chips. Drape with plastic wrap and chill until serving time.