Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hazelnut Crunch Cake with Mascarpone and Chocolate

Courtesy Giada's Kitchen

When I made this thing, I screwed it up and so the presentation was less than desirable. Luckily I figured out a way to salvage it and it was delicious! Next time it'll be yummy AND pretty! Watch for my notes to save yourself my embarrassment :)

1 boxed chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients needed to make it

1 cup hazelnuts (abotu 4.5 oz.), toasted and skinned (toast by baking in single layer at 350 for 8-10 minutes)
2/3 c. sugar

2 (8oz.) containers mascarpone cheese, room temperature (can substitute all or half for cream cheese if you're cheap or dislike the taste of mascarpone)
1 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 c. bittersweet chocolate
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. orange zest

Prepare cake as directed on box and bake in 2 round cake pans; let cool.

Crunch: Place toasted nuts in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheet. Combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water in small saucepan and bring to a boil on med-high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and then continue to boil WITHOUT STIRRING (my first mistake) until sugar is light brown, about 8 minutes (just swirl the pan from time to time). Remove from heat, let bubbles subside and then pour over nuts. Place baking sheet in fridge and let cool until hard, about 30 minutes. Once cool, place on cutting board and chop, saving a few larger pices for decoration.

Filling: The directions say to beat mascarpone, cream, sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form but when i did this the mascarpone curdled. Next time I will beat cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form, beat mascarpone separately until creamy, then combine both mixtures by hand. Then mix in chopped nut crunch.

Topping: Blend or process chocolate (chips or small pieces), sugar and zest until finely ground.

Assembly: Place one layer of cake on plate or stand, spread 1 inch of filling on top, place second layer of cake on top and then frost entire cake with remaining filling. Sprinkle top and sides with ground chocolate topping and add decorative shards of hazelnut crunch.

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