Thursday, November 4, 2010

Double Chocolate Praline Fudge Cake

Every now and again I miss Georgia.

I don't miss the 110 degree weather with 200% humidity, swarms of gnats, living in the middle of nowhere, dealing with snarky college students, or being in grad school... but I do miss living near Savannah and fresh pralines on River Street.

Savannah is a city with character- not to mention home of the great Paula Deen and her fabulous restaurant Lady & Sons (I've been lucky enough to eat there not once, but three times and man oh man, her fried chicken is good!)

When my grad school roommate decided to get married in Savannah and asked me to make her cake, I knew one of the tiers had to be the Double Chocolate Praline Fudge Cake that I found a few years ago in Southern Living.  I have been waiting for a special occasion to try this cake for a long time and what better occasion to do you get than a Savannah wedding?

You can't go to Savannah and not stop at River Street Sweets for a free praline so the choice was a no brainer..  lucky for me she liked the idea as well.

With the wedding in just 3 weeks (yes, I'm traveling with another wedding cake!), I had to try out the cake before serving it at the bow-tie affair. If you are a fan of chocolate and pralines you're going to love this cake. It is out of control rich, which in turn makes it out of control delicious.

Double Chocolate Praline Fudge Cake
Southern Living Magazine
Bake time: 22-24 minutes Oven: 350

1 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sugar
2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease and flour 2 or 3 8-inch round pans and line bottom with parchment paper.
Cook butter, cocoa and water in saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes or until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool. I repeat, LET COOL COMPLETELY- put it in the fridge, put it in the freezer, whatever you do, let it cool completely.
Let cocoa cool for about 10-15 minutes in fridge.
Meanwhile, beat buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla.
Pour cooled cocoa mixture to buttermilk mixture beating until blended.
In a small bowl, combine/whisk flour, sugar and salt.
Gradually add flour mixture to cocoa/buttermilk mixture, beating well after every addition (Your batter will be thin).
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 22-24 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Transfer to wire rack and cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing from pan and allowing to cool completely.
Allow cakes to cool for at least 1 hour before trying to frost.
One cake is cooled, begin to prepare chocolate ganache and praline frosting.

*The original recipe spreads Chocolate Ganache between each layer of cake as well as the sides and then tops the cake with the Praline Frosting. Because I will be decorating the wedding cake with fondant I knew I needed a smooth surface so I made this cake like I would be making hers, with the Praline Frosting between layers and frosting the outside with the Chocolate Ganache.

Chocolate Ganache
1 12oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter

In a glass bowl, add chocolate chips and whipping cream.
Two ways to make this:
1. Heat in a double boiler, whisking until smooth. Once chocolate is melted remove from heat and gradually add butter, whisking until smooth.
2. Microwave 2 to 3 minutes until chocolate is melted, stirring at 1 minutes intervals. Whisk until smooth. Gradually add butter, whisking until smooth.
Allow to cool briefly and whisk until spreading consistency.

Don't make the Praline Frosting until you're ready to frost your cake because it hardens VERY quickly.

Praline Frosting
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Chop pecans and place on baking sheet or shallow pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until pecans are toasted and fragrant.
In a medium saucepan, bring brown sugar, whipping cream and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for about 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
Gently stir in toasted pecans allowing mixture to thicken and cool slightly.
Use immediately

*If you have left over frosting you can use it to make your own pralines. Simply lay parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet and place spoonfuls of praline frosting on sheet about an inch apart. Allow to cool and harden for about 20-30 minutes.

Happy Baking!