September 18, 2012

Chocolate & Hazelnut Birthday Cake

Does anyone else have something that you constantly think you're out of, but in reality you have vast quantities sitting in the back of your pantry?  My husband and I are like this with Nutella.  We often return home from the grocery store with a new jar of the sweet chocolate spread, only to be surprised to find many more jars in the pantry.  We currently have four mostly-full jars cluttering our shelves and serving as vivid reminders of just how disorganized we are.

Ug.  So much Nutella.

We recently returned from vacation with an unopened, off-brand, Greek jar of Nutella (my husband swore we'd eat it on the trip), and I decided we absolutely had to stop buying the stuff and start eating it.

I've been meaning to make my brother-in-law a birthday cake for a long time (his birthday was several months ago).  I decided this was an excellent opportunity to put some of that Nutella to good use with a chocolate and hazelnut cake.

I really enjoyed the almond cake I made using Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible, and decided to re-purpose the recipe for chocolate and hazelnuts.

I was a little nervous about adding chocolate to the recipe, as I wasn't sure what this would do to the structure of the cake.  I made the cake the night before presenting it to my husband's brother - just in case I needed to find a new recipe when it failed terribly.  Luckily, it turned out alright.  The cake layers were a little crumbly when they first came out of the oven, but became easier to work with once they had cooled.

For the frosting, I did a Swiss Meringue Buttercream...with a generous quantity of Nutella.

Overall, this cake was quite delicious.  The cake itself was a little dryer than I'd like, and I think the hazelnut flavor was a bit mild (it was a bit overwhelmed by the chocolate flavor).  However, when combined with the buttercream it was very nice.

Speaking of the Nutella buttercream - it was amazing.  Delicious, and silky, and Nutella-y.  Yum

In the end, my in-laws enjoyed the cake, I got to try out a new recipe, and we are a little closer to using up that Nutella.  Win-win-win.

Chocolate & Hazelnut Cake
Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Golden Almond Cake (The Cake Bible).

2 eggs
⅙ cup + ⅔ cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1⅔ cups (166 grams) cake flour
½ cup cocoa powder
⅓ cup ground hazelnuts (I used Bob's Red Mill Hazelnut Flour, but you can grind your own)
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter (softened and cubed)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Line two 6" round cake pans with parchment paper.  Grease and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. Lightly mix together the eggs, ⅙ cup sour cream, and the vanilla extract.  Set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, hazelnuts, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  
  4. Beat in ⅔ cup sour cream and butter on low speed until the dry ingredients are moist.  Increase to medium speed and beat for 1-2 minutes more.
  5. Add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating until incorporated after each batch.
  6. Spoon into prepared pans.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.  Careful, the cakes will be crumbly when warm.
  8. After the cakes are cool, level and torte (cut in half) each cake layer so that you have 4 even layers.  I like using a cake leveler to do this.

Chocolate & Hazelnut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup chocolate & hazelnut spread (Nutella)
pinch of salt

  1. Cube the butter and leave out at room temperature (make sure you don't leave it over the dishwasher or oven or it will get too warm).
  2. Whisk the eggs whites and sugar together in the top part of a double broiler.  Make sure that the water in the bottom part is simmering, not boiling.  Keep whisking until a candy thermometer reads 160° F.
  3. Transfer to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment installed.  Whip at a medium speed until the mixture is at room temperature (the bowl feels neutral when you touch it).
  4. Lower the mixing speed and add the butter, one cube at a time.  Keep mixing until there is an obvious change in the consistency of the buttercream - from soupy to much more solid (you can usually hear the mixer start making different noises).  If it stays soupy for a very long time, throw the bowl in the refrigerator for ten minutes or so and retry.
  5. Add the vanilla, chocolate & hazelnut spread, and salt and keep mixing until they are incorporated.

1 comment:

  1. Cake looking very elegant. Thanks for sharing such simple recipe. I am going to try this hazelnut cake . It is my favorite cake .


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