My cousin and her family were coming over to my parents' house one Sunday afternoon and I naturally brought dessert for their visit. Any excuse to bake, right? I normally don't make layer cakes since they're not as easy to portion out like the cookies and brownies I bring to work but since this wasn't for work but was actually a sit-down occasion where I could slice and serve onto real plates with official forks, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to be a bit more fancy.
1/3 cup dark or regular cocoa powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 1/3 cups whole milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans, toasted, plus additional whole pecans for decorating
1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips (optional)
Caramel sauce (I used Trader Joe's salted caramel)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Line with parchment circles.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat 3/4 cup butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla, until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Beat in 1 cup melted chocolate chips until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in flour mixture, alternating with milk, until well combined, about 2-3 minutes.
- Evenly scrape batter into prepared cake pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees F, for 35-40 minutes, or until cake edges pull away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted into cake comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool for 12 minutes before running a knife around edges and inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.
- To make the ganache, melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in heavy cream and bring to a boil; turn heat off and stir in 2 cups chocolate chips until melted and smooth.
- Spread ganache evenly onto first layer of cake. Place second cake layer on top. Spread the rest of the ganache over cake top and sides. Sprinkle and top with remaining pecans. Decorate the top with whole pecans. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the top, and drizzle caramel everywhere.