Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

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Last time I gave you a pink treat for Valentine’s Day, and now it’s time for a chocolate one.

A chocolate hazelnut dessert! Nutella lovers, get your forks ready.

But before we dive into this cake, let’s take a moment to talk about winter weather.  So I grew up in Houston, Texas, and I spent my childhood years wishing and hoping for some white powdery snow.  My birthday candles, those rope necklaces, and fallen eyelashes were all dedicated to my hopes for some snow.  One Christmas we got almost a 1/2 inch of snow, and it was pure magic.  It promptly melted the next morning, but it was a Christmas miracle.  I was convinced as a child that I must move north to get more snow in my life.

Childhood self: you are a fool.  Snow is not always so great.  First, it’s cold.  Second, it’s not good for an anxious person to drive in (I almost went head first into a telephone pole in our parking lot last week).  Third, people in academic buildings never keep the heat at the right temperature.  Fourth, although you still have to be at work, people stop showing up to stuff which leaves you even more bitter that you had to be there.

Yeah, so snow and I are not on the outs.  I might not be so bitter if I didn’t have to walk 15 minutes to get to work each morning.  God forbid graduate students who work for the university have access to sensible parking.

Before I go on another rant, let’s talk about this cake.  This cake can brighten anyone’s snowy, cold day.  This cake is rich but light tasting.  The Nutella frosting is made with light whipped cream and taste divine- I would each just a bowl of this if I could.  The roasted, salted hazelnuts on top add such a great crunch to the combo as well as a pretty way to hide the fact that you are a subpar cake decorator, and there is hidden chopped chocolate on the inside layer   In my version of this recipe I used one of my favorite chocolate cake bases- one that I find actually turns out most and doesn’t taste dry or overbaked.

Let them eat cake!

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CAKE
Adapted from Eat, Drink, & Be Merry via Tasty Kitchen

DIRECTIONS

For the Cake:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup Frangelico
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 eggs, separate
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1 tablespoon cup all purpose flour

8 ounces Marscarpone cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup Nutella

To Assemble the Cake:
1 1/2 cup Nutella
1 cup chopped chocolate
Roasted, salted hazelnuts

DIRECTIONS

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9 inch springform pan. Line pan with parchment paper and grease.

In a double broiler, melt chocolate and butter. Remove from stove and stir in Frangelica. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, separate eggs into two separate bowls (4 yolks in one bowl, 4 egg whites in another bowl). Divide sugar in half. Pour half of the sugar in with the egg yolks and whisk together. Whisk egg yolk mixture into chocolate mixture. Stir in salt, cinnamon and flour.

With a hand mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Continue to beat, adding remaining sugar in a slow, steady stream. Beat until stiff but dry peaks do not form. Fold in 1/3 of the meringue mixture into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining meringue

*For my chocolate, I used a combination of semisweet and milk chocolate since sometimes semi-sweet chocolate is not sweet enough for me. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 60-75 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Cool on a wire wrack for 20 minutes. Remove sides of springform pan and let cool.

For the Nutella Cream:

In a large bowl whip the marscarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla, and heavy whipping cream together until peaks form. Fold in Nutella.

To Assemble the Cake:

Cut the cake into two equal layers. Place Nutella in the bowl and melt in the microwave until spreadable, about 30 seconds. Spread on the bottom cake layer. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle chopped chocolate on top. Spread a layer of Nutella cream on top. Place the top cake layer on top. Frost the cake with the remaining Nutella cream. Sprinkle hazelnuts on top.

No Bake Nutella Fruit & Nut Bars

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Are you ready for a snack, or are you ready for a snack?

Today we are going to get real serious about our snacking choices.  And by getting serious, I mean we are going to be using some Nutella. Nutella is amazing, and it is partially responsible for why I went all the way up to French IV in high school.  French culture day always meant eating lots of Nutella.  For educational purposes, of course.

I am currently working on my thesis (masters degree, I see you!), looking at issues with depression & alcohol, but what I would really like to write it on is the power of Nutella.  I am pretty sure just eating Nutella will be associated with lower levels of sadness.  New therapy treatment: instead of actually having to show up to work, I will just leave an open jar of Nutella and a spoon on my chair. Chocolate hazelnut therapy.

But if you really need some happiness, I suggest taking some Nutella and using it to make some no-bake bars.  I love lots and lots of stuff in my bars, so I packed these bars to the brim.  Filled with lots of chewy, sweet fruit and crunchy nuts, these bars make a great snack.  I used dried cherries and cashews, but the sky is the limit here.  I upped the Nutella & honey in this too, so they get nice a gooey. Mmmm.

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NO BAKE NUTELLA FRUIT AND NUT BARS
Adapted from White on Rice Couple

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup Nutella
Large pinch of salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cups dried fruit
1 1/2 cups nuts
1 cup chocolate chips, optional

DIRECTIONS

Line an 8 inch by 8 inch pan with foil and grease.

In a saucepan combine butter, honey, Nutella, salt, and brown sugar.  Whisk together over medium heat until combined.  Remove from heat.  Stir in dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips.  Spread mixture into pan.  Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Hazelnut Macarons with Nutella Buttercream

Ah, the elusive macaron.  I decided to take them on again a second time.  I was worried that my first batch was a fluke success, so I set out to take my time and be careful.  I was very fancy and had my mise en place.  At first everything was going very smoothly.  Then I tried to scrape down the bowl of my food processor using a rubber spatula.  Well, I have a little PSA for all of your: the blades of a food processor are very sharp.  I removed my spatula and found a little piece of rubber missing in the abyss of my nut flour.  After a few slight expletives, I called on my mother to help me sift me nut flour.  And of course at the very end of the mixture, there was the pesky little piece of rubber.

Shaking off my little mishap, I began beating my egg whites and combining.  I had my home-made pastry bag (a plastic ziploc bag) all set up to pipe out the filling.  I was feeling very confident having everthing all ready to go.  I filled my bag and then realized that when piping a mixture, it is helpful to have your frosting tip already in the bag before.  A few expletives and a panic snip of the scissors, and I had a huge hole in my pastry bag and macaron mixture all over my hands.  With a messy fix of some scotch tape, I got the frosting tip on, quickly piped out my macarons, and then wondered what I was doing in the kitchen.

In the end, batch number two of macarons was a success (because we didn’t end up eating any plastic spatula, it could have been like a king cake gone wrong).  My macarons developed their signature feet at the bottom and the nutella buttercream came together extremely easily.  So please take a moment to chuckle and learn from my mishaps, then go make some macarons.  They are one of the most rewarding desserts to make, you will get a moment of pure glee when they come out.

If you want some tips and some reassurance that you too can make macarons, visit Brave Tart’s post about macaron myths. She helped give me the final confidence boost that I could make macaroons, and you can too!  These can be a great edition to any cookie swap or holiday party.  Wow your friends with these sandwich cookies!

HAZELNUT MACARONS WITH NUTELLA BUTTERCREAM
Barely Adapted from Annie’s Eats
INGREDIENTS

For the Macarons:*
5 1/2 ounces almonds
2 ounces hazelnuts
10 ounces powdered sugar
100 grams egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

For the Nutella Buttercream:
12 tablespoons butter, softened
6 tablespoons nutella
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

For the Macarons:

In a food processor, combine almonds and hazelnuts.  Process for 2-3 minutes until well ground and paste-like.  Add powdered sugar and process until combined, scraping down the bowl if needed.  Set aside.

In a large bowl combine egg whites and cream of tartar.  With a hand mixer beat until stiff and glossy, 3-4 minutes.  Fold nut mixture into egg whites in three batches.  Transfer to a pastry bag with a large round frosting tip.

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Pipe macaron mixture in 1 1/2 inch circles, about 1/2 thick.  Leave space in between as they will spread slightly.  Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Place baking sheets on lower two wracks in oven.  Bake macarons for 6 minutes.  Switch the baking sheets (so the one on the lowest rack is now on the upper and vice versa).  Bake for 7-8 minutes.  Let macaron shells cool completely on wire rack.

For the Nutella Buttercream:

In a medium bowl, combine softened butter and nutella.  With a hand mixer, beat until combined and whipped, 1-2 minutes.  Add salt and powdered sugar.  Beat until combined and fluffy.

Pair up your cooled macaron shells so that they match in size.  Spread nutella buttercream on half of the pairs and place the other half on top to form a sandwich.  Place in airtight container and chill for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.’ Let sit at room temperature about 15-20 minutes before eating.

Makes about 20-22 macarons.

*All ingredients for macarons must be at room temperature

Nutella Bananas Foster Nachos

Bananas foster is a rich, classic, and delicious dessert.  And it has the wow factor of all that fire when flambé it.  Knowing my tendency to burn myself even when not cooking with flames, I have never made anything a la flambé and was not about to on a random night when I was craving something sweet.  Instead, I decided to try to take Bananas Foster and put a new delicious (and safer) twist on them.  So how do you go about making bananas foster even better?  Is it even possible, you may ask?  One simple word: Nutella.

Nutella and bananas is a soul mate-level pairing- the two are just meant to be together.  And you and these nutella bananas foster nachos are meant to be together too.  Make yourself a nice big batch and settle in front of the TV for some trashy and wonderful reality television (I will take any kind of Housewives on Bravo) for maximum enjoyment.

 
NUTELLA BANANAS FOSTER NACHOS
INGREDIENTS

For the Cinnamon Pita Chips:
1-2 ounces pita chips
Olive oil, for brushing
1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Nachos:
1-2 bananas, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon rum, optional
2-3 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, chopped
2-3 tablespoons Nutella
Vanilla Ice Cream, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line a baking sheet with pita chips in a single layer.  Lightly brush with olive oil.  Evenly season with sugar and cinnamon.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Keep warm.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add butter and brown sugar and cook until melted, about 1-2 minutes.  Add bananas and toss to coat.  Stir in rum if desired.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until bananas are warmed through but still firm.  Stir in toasted hazelnuts.

Warm nutella in microwave until you can drizzle over chips, about 30 seconds.  Drizzle nutella over pita chips.  Pour banana mixture on top.  Top with vanilla ice cream.  Devour.

Serves 1-2.