I need to talk to you about the holidays, about the parties, about the dress, and about the cocktails. I need to talk to you about how cake, how the right cake can make it all better.
I had the perfect holiday dress all picked out. This dress would get me through thick and thin, casual and dressy. It was a simple and sassy black dress. I could do it up with colorful tights and heels or tone it down with a cardigan and scarf. This dress could go from holiday family function to night on the town…
All was fine and good until the dress actually went out on the town. Correction- I went out on the town and… well… the dress didn’t survive.
Let’s just say, that after several glasses of wine, and various other spirits, I found myself (and my dress) rolling down a rainy concrete hill. Don’t worry. I wasn’t hurt. I was protected by a hearty belly full of booze and the three friends I rolled down the hill with. It was hilarious. Memories were made. Dresses were… torn.
I now know that holiday parties are dangerous. That lesson came at a steep price: one helluva hangover and one tragically torn dress.
With my holiday dress out of commission, I was in a serious bind this weekend. Yea… the “what am I going to wear!?” bind. I decided to not sweat it. I decided that if I waltzed into a party with a gorgeous cake, not a soul would be worried about what I was wearing…
I was totally right.
This cake saved me from wardrobe worries. I threw on jeans, a top and my favorite owl necklace and made an entrance proudly holding this cake in front of me.
The first thing I heard as I made my way in: “Joy is here with cake!” and then came the hugs. Success!
Next year… I dunno… maybe I’ll buy two holiday dresses and use this cake for backup.
Mocha Hazelnut Marble Cake with Mocha Sour Cream Ganache
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, finely ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
9 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, divided use
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coffee (hot or cold)
1 teaspoon instant coffee, finely ground (or instant espresso powder)
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 12 cup Bundt pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Don’t place the pan on a baking sheet – you want the oven’s heat to circulate through the Bundt’s inner tube.
I toasted my whole hazelnuts in a 350 degree F oven for about 12-15 minutes or until they were fragrant. Once cool, I ground them until fine in my food processor.
Whisk together the flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder and salt.
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Put 2 tablespoons of the butter, cut into 4 pieces, into the bowl, along with the chocolate, coffee and instant coffee. Heat the mixture, stirring often, until the butter and chocolate are melted and everything is smooth and creamy – keep the heat low so that the butter and chocolate don’t separate. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining 2 sticks butter and the sugar at medium speed for about 3 minutes – you’ll have a thick paste; this won’t be light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. The mixture should look smooth and satiny. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately, adding the dry mixture in 3 portions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients).
Scrape a little less than half the batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate and, using a rubber spatula, stir to blend thoroughly.
If you want to go for the gingko pattern, scrape all of the white batter into the pan and top with the chocolate and marble it minimally. If you want a more marbled pattern, alternate spoonfuls of the light and dark batter in the pan. When all the batter is in the pan, swirl a table knife sparingly through the batter to marble them.
Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the Bundt pan to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool the cake completely on the rack.
Mocha Sour Cream Glaze
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
Melt chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until completely melted. Remove bowl from the double boiler situation.
Stir sour cream into the melted chocolate.
Add corn syrup and vanilla and continue to stir.
Slowly add the brewed coffee bit by bit, stirring to incorporate.
This will be a thick glaze. If you would like it much thinner, you can always add more corn syrup and coffee. This glaze will thicken slightly as it cools.
Spread onto the cooled Mocha Hazelnut Bundt Cake.