Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hazelnut Crunch Cake

Hazelnut Crunch Cake

I originally got the recipe for this cake from Everyday Italian. I made a few changes, after some trial and error. The cake recipe comes from the Cake Doctor. This is surprisingly simple and beyond delicious!

1 recipe Darn Good Chocolate Cake...

1 package (18.25 oz.) plain devil’s food cake mix

1 package (3.9 oz.) chocolate instant pudding mix

4 large eggs

1 cup of sour cream

½ cup warm water

½ cup vegetable oil

1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

Crunch: 1 cup (about 4½-ounces) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned

⅔ cup sugar

⅓ cup water

Filling: 2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone cheese, room temperature

1 cup cream

¾ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping: ¼ cup bittersweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (8-inch) cake pans. Prepare the batter for the Darn Good Chocolate Cake. Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and bake according to recipe instructions. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Place the cake mix, pudding, eggs, sour cream, water, and oil in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2-3 minutes more. The batter should be thick and well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into pans.

Bake the cake in center of the oven until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, about 45 minutes. Let cake cool on wire racks until cool.

For the Crunch: Place the toasted nuts close together in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar mixture until dissolved. Bring to a boil and let cook until the sugar is light brown, about 8 minutes. (Or test with a candy thermometer, look for the hard candy stage.) Let the bubbles subside then pour the caramelized sugar over the nuts. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and let the sugar nut mixture cool until hard, about 30 minutes. When the sugar nut mixture is hard and cool, top with another piece of parchment paper and pound into small pieces, or place the sugar nut mixture on a cutting board and cut into small pieces. Set aside.

For the filling: Whip the cream to soft peaks. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip until a bit more stiff. Fold in Marscapone cheese. Do not overmix. Fold the Crunch mixture into the whipped cream mixture.

For the topping: Place the chocolate, sugar and zest in a food processor. Process the mixture until the chocolate is finely ground.

To assemble the cake: Put 1 cake on a serving plate. Top with 1-inch of the whipped cream crunch mixture. Top with the second layer of cake and continue frosting the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream crunch mixture. Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the ground chocolate.


Yields: Serves 8-10

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How to decorate a cake, perfectly

Here is a suggestion for ways to decorate a cake, perfectly. As far as I am concerned, the only tool that is a must when decorating cakes is an offset spatula. It is a lifesaver. I cannot imagine working without one. It is also really helpful to have a really great set of pastry bags and decorating tips. If you have this, you can deliver a fantastic looking cake.