I've been looking for inspiration. The kind of inspiration that spurs me to impulsively throw on my coat and run out to the store for the ingredients missing from my pantry for the recipe that I have to make. Now. I start with my favorite food blogs - nothing. Next I spend a few minutes looking through a couple of cookbooks I haven't used in a while - still nothing. The way over-priced special issue of America's Test Kitchen - nothing. Giving up, I crawl into bed with an empty stomach and a unfulfilled desire to be inspired.
Determined not to throw in the (kitchen) towel, I steal a quick glance through my binder of recipes torn from newspapers, magazines, and scrawled on scraps of paper before leaving for work and came across a recipe I pulled from a 2005 issue of Country Living. Inspiration found!
I've been wanting to try the Praline Turtle Cake recipe for a while now and am glad I finally did. The cake is fluffy and moist and just a great chocolate cake. Each layer is covered with a I-would-have-licked-the-hot-pan-it-was-so-good praline topping. This is the first cake recipe I have made that doesn't involve use of a mixer and includes vinegar in the ingredient list but was super easy to make.
My dreams of posting a perfect sliver of this beautiful cake perched on a pretty plate were dashed when I gave into pressure from my daughter to cut the cake while it was still warm. The picture above is all that was left and a testament to how good it was.
A blog-worthy picture of the finished product (from countryliving.com):
Praline Turtle Cake
Betty Nicoson, Terre Haute, IN via Country Living Magazine
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup fudge topping
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
Make the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans and fit a circle of parchment paper large enough to cover 1 inch up the side of each cake pan.
Heat the butter, brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved. Do not boil. Divide the sugar mixture between the prepared pans. Sprinkle 3/4 cup pecans over sugar mixture and set aside to cool.
Combine the flour, cocoa, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, sour cream, oil, vanilla, and vinegar, and 1 cup hot water and mix with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the cake pans -- over sugar mixture -- and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the cake center comes out clean -- 35 to 40 minutes. Cool cakes in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans and turn cakes out onto a cooling rack. Remove the paper and cool completely.
Assemble the cake: Spread the fudge topping over the sugar mixture side of one cake layer. Place the second layer over the first and drizzle with the melted chocolate and the remaining 1/4 cup pecans. Frost the cake sides with your favorite chocolate icing.