Well, it’s official: I am the worst. I make all these promises (“I’ll be better about blogging!” “I’m back!” “I won’t be a total lame-ass anymore!”), and then I break them pretty much immediately. It’s no wonder my readership on this blog has plummeted.
To my five remaining readers: I am really, really sorry.
I was going to post a recipe for sweet pea crostini, or the multigrain muffins I made recently, but no. I could not post a semi-healthy recipe as a peace offering. Unacceptable. Peace offerings should involve sugar. And cream. And chocolate.
So instead, I offer you this chocolate-hazelnut cake: a moist chocolate cake filled with a milk chocolate/hazelnut cream and coated in a bittersweet chocolate glaze.
Let the groveling commence.
I’m not going to make outlandish claims for this cake, but it will win you new friends, elicit marriage proposals and bring about world peace. Just sayin’.
In fact, it was such a hit at my friend’s dinner party that several guests demoted their prevailing “all-time favorite” desserts and moved this cake into the top spot. Whoa.
So, if you think you could forgive me and my slack blogging, I was hoping — maybe — we could kiss and make up. What do you think? Not sure? Why don’t you give this cake a try, and maybe then you’ll give me a second chance.
Adapted from the Bon Appetit Cookbook
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 pound good-quality milk chocolate
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
4 teaspoons powdered sugar
1 cup sifted all purpose flour (sifted and then measured)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
12 whole hazelnuts toasted and skinned
Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Place chocolate in medium bowl. Pour hot cream mixture over and let stand 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Set aside.
Blend hazelnuts and sugar in processor until a smooth paste forms, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Stir paste into chocolate mixture. Refrigerate filling until cool but still spreadable, about 2 hours.
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch diameter cake pan with 2-inch high sides (I used a springform pan). Line bottom with parchment. Dust pan with flour and tap out excess.
Sift flour and next 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Stir 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water and espresso powder in small bowl until powder dissolves. Mix in buttermilk. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, then vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions each.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes (test at 40). Cool cake in pan on rack 5 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack. Peel off parchment. Turn right side up onto another rack and cool completely.
Using an electric mixer, beat filling until slightly softened and lightened in color, about 30 seconds to one minute. If not soft enough, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes — you want the filling to be soft enough to spread easily. Cut cake horizontally in half. Place 1 layer cut side up on platter. Slide waxed paper strips under edges of cake. Spread about half of filling over cake. Top with second layer, cut side down. Spread remaining filling over sides and top of cake. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Combine chocolate, butter and corn syrup on top of double boiler set over simmeringn water. Stir until smooth. Remove from over water and cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
Pour glaze in a pool over the center of cake. Using icing spatula, spread over top and sides of cake. Arrange 12 nuts around the top edge of cake. Remove waxed paper.
This cake can be prepared one day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at least one hour at room temperature before serving.
Yield: 12 servings