2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour*
3/4 cup Dutched cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons orange zest, no bitter white pith
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
Pecan Praline Topping:
1 cup firmly packed Dixie Crystals Light Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
12 oz best quality chocolate. (50-55% cocoa)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 310°F. Butter and flour three 8 or 9-inch baking pans and set aside.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and sugar and set aside. In a bowl large enough to hold all ingredients whisk eggs and buttermilk until well combined. Add oil, orange zest, vanilla and salt and whisk smooth. Meanwhile, heat water until hot. Add dry ingredients buttermilk-egg mixture and whisk smooth. Add hot water in 3 increments, while whisking batter smooth in between additions.
Divide batter evenly into pans. Bake for 40-45 minutes until center of cake bounces back when lightly pressed with a finger. After 5 minutes, remove and allow to cool completely before proceeding.
Pecan praline topping: Place pecan pieces and pecan halves in separate bowl and set aside.
In a saucepan bring all ingredients to a boil excluding pecans. Boil for 7 minutes ensuring that mixture will not boil over. Remove from heat and pour half of boiled mixture into bowl containing pecan pieces and other half into pecan halves. Stir each mixture and set aside to cool.
Ganache: Chop chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl, set aside.
In a saucepan bring heavy cream and sugar to a boil. Pour boiling cream onto the chopped chocolate. Add butter. Whisk until smooth and the chocolate is melted. Set aside.
Assembly: Place a cake layer on a serving plate and remove the parchment. Spread half of pecan pieces caramel evenly on the surface of the cake. Top with another cake layer and use remaining pecan pieces caramel.
For the top of the cake: Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium pastry star tip with cooled ganache. If ganache is still too soft-runny to pipe it is best to wait, although the ganache can be chilled if set in ice water and stirred. Pipe a double ring of rosettes on surface of the cake. Fill the center of cake with a mound of pecan halves caramel filling.