Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cake

Perfect for Valentine celebrations, this rich, moist, single-layer torte prepared with semisweet chocolate, ground pecans, and a generous amount of butter, is irresistible. The soft texture of the cake, the creaminess of the caramel, and the crunch of the nuts and chips combine to form a celestial trinity. This recipe serves eight easily so you can make it for a crowd, or offer it to a single special person and have some delicious leftovers.

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cake

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened plus extra for greasing the pan
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup ground pecans
1/2 cup flour plus a little extra for the baking pan

7 ounces caramels (1/2 of a 14-ounce package; about 25)
3 tablespoons heavy or whipping cream
11/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8- inch round baking pan that is at least 2 inches deep. Line with a round of parchment and butter and flour the parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a heat proof bowl set over but not touching a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until mixture is smooth. Set aside.

With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat the butter until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then gradually beat in the sugar, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at time, and beat just until blended. Mixture may look curdled; that’s okay. Lower speed and add vanilla and melted chocolate. Combine the pecans and flour and beat into the batter.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan, and level batter with a spatula or table knife. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool pan on a rack.

To unmold, run a sharp knife around the inside edge of the pan, then invert cake onto a serving plate.

For topping, unwrap the caramels and add them to a heavy, medium saucepan along with cream. Place over medium low to medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until caramels melt and mixture is smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the caramel over the top of the cake and spread just to the edge with a spatula or table knife. Mix the chocolate chips and chopped pecans in a bowl, then press them on top of the caramel. Cool cake to room temperature. (Cake can be made 1 day ahead; leave at room temperature covered with a cake cover or dome or wrapped in plastic wrap. Serves 6 to 8.

Note: I used Kraft’s Caramels, which are available in most supermarkets.

© Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2011

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