We had a birthday around here this past weekend.
And no birthday around here would be complete without a birthday cake....from Giada, of course.
Things were not going according to the recipe, or instructions, when I made this cake, so it is somewhat changed from it's original and intended form. But no love lost here. It was delicious.
A delicious coating of semisweet chocolate chips, orange zest and chopped hazelnuts.
All layered onto a mascarpone cheese icing. I mixed a bunch of chopped hazelnuts into the icing as well.
Just look at that...... yum.
And oh my goodness..... mascarpone cheese. Who knew it was so good.
Hazelnut Crunch Cake with Mascarpone and Chocolate
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis and foodnetwork.com
1 box chocolate cake mix (and any ingredients listed on cake mix box)
1 cup (about 4 1/2-ounces) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (split amongst chocolate mixture and icing)
2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and toast them until lightly browned. Then, if they have skins on them, roll them in a hand towel immediately after removing them from the oven (while they are still hot) and rub them vigorously together and against each other in a vain attempt to get most of the skins off. In my experience with hazelnuts, you will never, never, get all the skins off. But hey, who said there was anything wrong with hazelnut skins? Just get as much as you can off, and pop the rest into the mix with or without their skins. I really don't think it will hurt anything.
Once you have most of the skins removed from those hazelnuts, pop 2/3 of them in a food processor and pulse away until they are the consistency that you would like. I ground mine up fairly small. My yahoo doesn't like nuts and I thought I could pull a fast one..... not.
Butter and flour 2 (8-inch) cake pans. Prepare the cake mix according to package instructions. Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and bake according to package instructions. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. My cakes baked unevenly across the top and one side was higher than the other. Don't be a fool like me. When they cool, go ahead and cut the uneven part of the cake off with a large serrated knife BEFORE you start the whole icing process. Trust me. It just makes life easier if you do it that way.
Put the mascarpone cheese, cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer whip the cream mixture to soft peaks. Fold the 2/3 of chopped hazelnuts into the whipped cream.
Place the chocolate, sugar, orange zest, and the remaining 1/3 hazelnuts in a food processor. Process the mixture until the chocolate is ground to the consistency that you desire. Once again, I ground mine fairly small, but still fairly coarse.
Put 1 cake on a serving plate. Top with 1-inch of the mascarpone and 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 mixture. I gently pressed the chocolate 'crumb' mixture into the top of the cake so that it would remain in place.
Cut and serve.