These days it seems I look for every and any excuse to make cake. I have been on a bit of a baking rampage, and my tiny studio kitchen is nearly groaning under the weight of so many cakes. It's gotten quite ridiculous. Not that I personally have a problem with cake for breakfast every day, my waistline, however, does indeed have a problem with that. There's the chocolate one resting comfortably in the freezer, the lemon berry cake on top of the stove (with enough slices taken out to cause it to bear an eerie resemblance to Pacman) and now there's the birthday cake on the counter. So. Much. Cake.
And so I pawn them off on friends and co-workers. I offered to make this latest cake for a friend's be-lated birthday. When I asked what kind he wanted he mentioned something with hazelnuts and chocolate. That of course, brought to mind one thing. Nutella! Genius! Had anyone ever thought to make a cake out of nutella before? Of course. Nigella Lawson, in fact. I should have guessed. She cooks, she speaks in a gorgeous English accent, she's pretty easy on the eyes and she makes cakes out of nutella. This woman could obviously rule the world if she chose to do so. Luckily she chooses to simply share her recipes instead.
I pored over the recipe. It was madness, for sure. Not only does it call for an entire stick of butter, two full chocolate bars, and rum, but it uses an entire jar of nutella. This cake is obviously not for the faint of heart, but considering the culinary requirements for an earlier cake experiment (4 sticks of butter!) I was not to be intimidated. Now that cake was crazy!
It was a dreary, drizzling kind of day. I hauled myself off to the gym to try and make up for the breakfast problem of the week, and then started in with Elliott Smith to accompany me. Elliott makes a fine cooking companion. Of all the albums in my possession, his are the ones I never tire of. If only there were more of them.
And here is the result! So dense and delicious and full of nutella! I'm quite pleased with it, and it really couldn't have been easier. Nothing to fear...as long as you have plenty of people to share it with, of course.
Nutella Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Cake: 6 large eggs, separated pinch salt 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 1 13-ounce container Nutellla 1 tablespoon rum 1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Ganache: 4 ounces whole hazelnuts 1/2 cup half and half (she calls for heavy cream but I was out, half and half worked well) 1 tablespoon rum 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter a 9-inch springform pan. In a large bowl (preferably metal), whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff. In another bowl, cream the butter and Nutella, then add the rum, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in melted chocolate.
Add a blob of beaten egg whites to the chocolate batter, and mix gently until well-combined. Fold in the remaining whites, one-third at a time, very gently but thoroughly. Pour into springform and bake for 40 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting tester, which should come out mostly clean; lightly pressing finger into top to check for a slight bouncing-back; and observing edges beginning to separate from pan. Let cool completely, in pan, on a rack.
Toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet, or toaster oven shaking them around frequently. Do it for about 4 minutes, or until they are lightly browned, then let cool completely. If hazelnuts came with skins on, put them in a towel after toasting and rub around; this will remove most of the skins.
Chop chocolate, and add to sauce pan with half and half and rum over medium-low heat. Once chocolate is melted and components are combined, whisk until mixture reaches desired thickness, then cool. Remove rim of cake pan and pour cooled ganache over, spreading lightly to create a smooth, shiny surface, and apply hazelnuts all over.
Thank you for sharing, Elissa! This looks stunning.