For the Filling
- 1 cup chocolate
- 1 1/ 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon hevay cream, at room temperature
- 1 1/ 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/ 2 tablespoons butter
For the Cake
- 3 2/ 3 cups cake flour
- 1 1/ 2 cups almond meal
- 2/ 3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/ 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/ 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/ 4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup milk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup boiling water
For the Praline
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/ 4 cup water
For the Ganache
- 1 cup chocolate, chopped
- 1/ 2 cup heavy cream
Make the filling: Roughly chop chocolate and place in a medium sized heat-proof mixing bowl. Place sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until it takes on a dark golden colour, then stir in butter and salt. Add in cream, being careful as it will bubble up, and stir to combine. You should have a smooth caramel. Pour the caramel over the chocolate and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Whisk to combine and place in the fridge for 1-2 hours for the ganache to cool down. A few minutes before assembling the cake, remove the mixture from the fridge and using an electric beater with the whisk attachment, whisk the mixture for a few minutes until it lightens in colour, increases in volume and becomes the consistency of buttercream.
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 7-inch cake tins then line with parchment paper and set aside.
Sift the cake flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl, then stir in the sugar. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla extract, then add to the dry mixture and whisk. Once combined pour in the melted butter and whisk until just combined, finally pour in the boiling water and whisk until smooth.
Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake, for 30 to 35 minutes until risen and a cake skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the praline: Place the toasted walnuts on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Set aside.
Put the sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly until the sugar has completely dissolved then increase the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, without stirring, until the sugar is at a constant roiling boil and has developed into a deep golden amber colour (330°F on a candy thermometer).
Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the mixture all over the walnuts. Let sit until completely cool, then break praline into chunks and pulse in a blender or food processor for a few seconds to form a crumb. Place them in a bowl and set aside for assembly.
Make the ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set aside. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until hot, then pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.
To assemble: Even out the tops of your cakes and divide each into two layers (you should have 4 layers total). Place your first layer down and spread 1/3 of the frosting evenly over top. Sprinkle on 1/4 of the praline walnut crumb. Repeat with the following 2 layers. For the final layer, smooth out the sides of the cake with an offset spatula, then pour the ganache over top in an even layer, allowing it to drizzle over and down the sides slightly. Garnish with walnut crumb.
Inspiration for this cake was drawn from The Boy Who Bakes (theboywhobakes.co.uk) and Thalia Ho (Butterandbrioche.com).