chocolate praline layer cake

Candice Brown

Rich, decadent and impressive, this cake is full of flavour and features a gorgeous nutty praline that I adore. Trust me, the whipped ganache is a game-changer. Just don’t be tempted to lick the hot caramel — I learnt the hard way.

serves 10 people

Butter, for greasing
275g plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp baking powder
150g golden caster sugar
65g soft brown sugar
25g ground almonds
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp golden syrup
225ml coconut oil, melted
225ml whole milk
100g white chocolate, to serve
For the ganache
500ml double cream
400g dark chocolate, broken up
200g blanched hazelnuts
200g golden caster sugar

01 Heat the oven to 160C (non-fan 180C). Grease and line two 20cm round tins with baking parchment.

02 Put the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugars and almonds. Make a well in the middle, add the eggs, syrup, coconut oil and milk. Mix until it’s all combined and smooth — on a low to medium speed if using an electric mixer.

03 Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 30-35 minutes until they’re springy to touch. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out gently, remove the paper and leave to cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

04 To make the ganache, place the cream in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat until small bubbles start to rise all over the surface. Remove from the heat, add the dark chocolate and leave for 10 minutes before stirring through. Place in the fridge to cool and set.

05 Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray, then heat in the oven for 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Leave to cool, then roughly chop.

06 Line a flat baking tray with greaseproof paper. In a large saucepan, add the sugar and 1 tbsp water and set over a medium heat. Do not stir the pan, but gently shake it every so often — the sugar will crystallise, clump together, then start to dissolve. Once the caramel is a deep golden colour (after 5-10 minutes), tip in the toasted hazelnuts. Shake the pan to coat the nuts in the caramel, then carefully pour it onto the greaseproof paper to set.

07 When the caramel has turned rock hard and clear, lift and drop it to break it into pieces. Blitz one-third in a food mixer or blender. Roughly chop another third and reserve for decoration. Break the remaining third into jagged shards and set aside.

08 Once the ganache has set, place it in a large bowl of an electric mixer and whip for 2-3 minutes, until it turns from dark and glossy to pale and whipped. Fold through the blitzed hazelnut praline.

09 Spread two-thirds of the whipped ganache on one of the sponges, then top with the second sponge. Lightly press the reserved chopped praline onto the outside of the ganache to decorate. Add the rest of the whipped ganache to a piping bag and pipe small rosettes onto the top sponge, decorate with the caramel shards, then grate over the white chocolate.