Ultimate Birthday Cake

birthday cakeI love to make birthday cakes. I love to celebrate people and to eat cake, so it just makes sense. My family and closest friends know that my cakes tend to be really ugly, probably  because 1) I’m not a perfectionist in any possible way, and 2) I get impatient for the final result and often don’t wait long enough for cakes to cool before frosting. So they all know the uglier, the better it’s going to taste. Beware of a pretty cake from me, it means I didn’t have a hand in making it. This is the ultimate birthday cake, in my opinion. My bestie and I make it for each other on our special days, and I don’t think anybody else appreciates it nearly as much as we both do, so we get lots of cake twice a year. I’m struggling with the realization that it’s another 6 months till the next birthday. The recipe is from The Cake Mix Doctor, and yes, gets its start from a mix:

 

Chocolate Praline Cake

For the praline:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
  • ¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans

For the cake:

  • 1 package (18.25 to 26.2 ounces) chocolate cake mix
  • 1 package (3.9 to 4.09) instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 to 1 1/3 cups water (see note above)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • Topping:
  • 1¾ cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 2 tablespoons, or to taste, confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated chocolate or miniature chocolate chips, if desired
  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut 2 rounds of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of two 9-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.
  2. 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. Set the pans aside.
  3. For the cake, place the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, and oil 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.
  4. Bake the cakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 37 to 40 minutes for Anne’s cake mix and 35 to 37 minutes for Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, etc. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack to cool praline-side up. Remove the parchment rounds.
  5. 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.
  6. To assemble the cake, place on 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 spread the top with the rest of the whipped cream. Garnish the top with grated chocolate or mini chips. Drape with plastic wrap and chill until serving time.

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