Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeI spent this past weekend celebrating my little sister, Eliot’s 30th birthday. We ate breakfast tacos and went to our first game at Fenway Park and laughed til we cried at least once. We also put on one hell of a birthday party in her Cambridge, MA, apartment, complete with lots of friends, a batch of salsa, and two of these Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cakes.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeEliot didn’t specifically ask for this cake. When we started talking about her birthday a few weeks ago, she said she’d be perfectly happy with Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies or the Winning Hearts & Minds Cake we both love so much. After her summer in India, she’s discovered that maybe wheat isn’t for her, so her main request was that whatever I made be gluten-free. That was easy enough—I am all about flourless cakes. And chocolate and hazelnut is her favorite sweet flavor combination, so here we are.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeY’all, this Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is like a combination between a fudgy brownie and a jar of Nutella. Chocolate hazelnut overload! It’s very simple to put together and only has six ingredients: bittersweet chocolate, hazelnuts, eggs, butter, sugar, and salt. Yep, that’s all it takes to make this cake, but as with most recipes that have minimal ingredients, each one must be handled with care.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThe chocolate has to be melted and cooled to room temperature.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThe hazelnuts have to be toasted before having their skins removed and being blitzed into a fine meal.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThe eggs need to be separated and the whites have to be whipped to stiff peaks.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeYes, all of that must be done before the batter can be put together. None of those steps are difficult or time-consuming, but they are completely necessary—no shortcuts here!

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeTo make the batter, cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg yolks and hazelnut meal before adding the chocolate. Stir 1/4 of the whipped egg whites into the batter before carefully folding in the rest 1/4 at a time. Pour it all into a buttered, parchment-lined cake pan and bake it just until a tester comes out clean.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeInvert it onto a foil-lined plate.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeRevert it onto a serving dish (or your favorite cake stand).

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeEliot wanted her cake served with a dusting of confectioners sugar, but I prefer it with a puddle of ganache and some more toasted, skinned hazelnuts.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeSlice it up and try not to eat the whole thing.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThis Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is truly phenomenal. Chocolaty, hazelnutty (it’s a word today, okay?!), rich, but not too heavy—basically everything you want in a decadent dessert! Between testing, partying, and blogging, I’ve made five of these in the past week, and I am still having a hard time not sneaking bites and evening out edges.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeBasically, what I’m saying is make this, and/or come take cake #5 away from me 🙂🙃

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeHappy birthday, Smel!

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
makes one 9-inch cake

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I use Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate)
6 ounces (1 heaping cup) whole raw hazelnuts 
6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar

Garnish:
3 ounces (heaping 1/2 cup) whole raw hazelnuts
7 tablespoons heavy cream
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

In a double boiler or the microwave, melt bittersweet chocolate. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and butter again. Set aside.

Place hazelnuts on a dry, rimmed sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Immediately transfer hazelnuts to a clean, dry, textured hand towel. Fold towel around the hazelnuts and then rub the towel with the palm of your hand. This will allow the hazelnut skins to loosen. This step does not have to be done perfectly.

Transfer hazelnuts to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a fine meal forms. Set aside.

Place egg whites and salt in a very clean, dry large mixing bowl. Use a very clean, dry electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat until combined. Add egg yolks three at a time, mixing to combine. Add hazelnut meal in two installments, followed by room-temperature melted chocolate.

Use a silicone spatula to add 1/4 of the whipped egg whites to the batter, stirring as much as necessary to get them to incorporate.

Continue adding the whipped egg whites in 1/4 increments, gently folding them into the batter.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake 23-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Top may still be a bit jiggly, but it will set as the cake cools. Let cake cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Release the cake. Line a dinner plate with foil. Dip a small knife in warm water and slowly run it around the edge of the pan, dipping again as necessary, to loosen the cake. Place the dinner plate, foil-side down, on top of the cake pan. Holding on to both the pan and the plate, quickly flip them over. Remove the pan and the parchment. Gently place a serving plate, top-side down, onto the bottom of the cake. Holding tightly to both plates (but not so much as to crush the cake), quickly revert. Remove the foil-lined dinner plate.

Prepare the garnish. Place hazelnuts on a dry, rimmed sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Immediately transfer hazelnuts to a clean, dry, textured hand towel. Fold towel around the hazelnuts and then rub the towel with the palm of your hand. This will allow the hazelnut skins to loosen. Set aside to cool completely.

Warm cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, just until it simmers. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate. Let sit undisturbed until chocolate looks soft. Stir with a fork until smooth. Spread or drizzle ganache over the cake. Dot with toasted hazelnuts, as desired.

Chocolate will set a bit after 20 minutes. Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to three.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Bundt CakeI have loved baking with berries and stone fruit all summer, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not excited to do some fall baking. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been daydreaming about apples and pears, cranberries and warming spices, and of course, pumpkin. I’ve already gone through five cans of the stuff while testing upcoming recipes! If you love pumpkin, you’ve come to the right place.

Pumpkin Bundt CakeThis first recipe of fall is a great one, if I do say so myself. This Pumpkin Bundt Cake is soft, sweet, and full of that seasonal flavor we all love. It’s made with an entire 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée and a hefty dose of pumpkin pie spice.

Pumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin by itself has a very subtle flavor, so quality pumpkin pie spice is imperative for quality baked goods. While there are many great store-bought versions, I prefer to make my own Pumpkin Pie Spice blend. It’s a combination of seven warming spices including all of the ones you’d expect (think cinnamon and nutmeg) and a couple of surprises (think cardamom). It has a depth that I haven’t found in even the highest quality packaged versions. I swear by this particular blend, but feel free to use any Pumpkin Pie Spice you like.

Pumpkin Bundt CakeEnough about spices though. Pumpkin Bundt Cake is a breeze to make. The simple no-mixer-required batter comes together in just a few minutes. In addition to the pumpkin purée and pie spice, it contains oil, light brown and granulated sugars, four eggs, and all the other usual suspects.

Pumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakeOnce the beautiful orange batter is ready, pour it into a bundt pan that has been heavily greased and floured. While I usually rely on a paste of oil and flour to keep my cakes from sticking, that particular method does not work well with this recipe. Instead, I recommend heavily (and I mean heavily) greasing every nook and cranny of the pan with butter, or even shortening, and giving it a good dusting of flour. Pour the batter into the pan and bake it for forty minutes. Let the cake cool for a few minutes before running a knife along all of the edges and inverting it. There’s nothing quite like the relief that comes when a bundt cake comes out in one piece.

Pumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakeThe cake itself may be made up to a day in advance. To do this, let the cake cool to room temperature before carefully wrapping it in plastic and letting it sit overnight. The pumpkin spice flavor will actually deepen as the cake sits, making this a very appealing make-ahead dessert. If you don’t have that kind of time though, your cake will still be delicious on the day it’s baked.

Pumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakeBefore serving, glaze the cake. I prefer to use a vanilla glaze here, but feel free to add a pinch of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to jazz it up. To make the glaze, whisk together some confectioners sugar, salt, vanilla, and milk until thick, but still pourable. Carefully pour it over the top of the cake and then let gravity do its job. It will turn out rustic and beautiful every time 

Pumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakeI love this cake so much, you guys. It has a moist crumb and a fairly light texture; it will stay soft for days! And the flavor is everything you want in a pumpkin baked good—there is just enough spice 😊 Like I said, I’m positively in love. 

Pumpkin Bundt CakeHappy fall, y’all 🍂🍁Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Bundt Cake
makes one 12 cup-capacity bundt pan

For the pan:
2 tablespoons softened butter or shortening
~1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin purée (I like Libby’s and Trader Joe’s)

Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 12 cup-capacity bundt pan heavily with butter or shortening and dust with flour. Set aside.

Make the cake. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy (about 1 minute). Whisk in light brown and granulated sugars followed by oil, vanilla, and pumpkin purée. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Smooth out the batter with a spatula or wooden spoon. Tap the full pan on the counter 5-10 times to release air bubbles. Bake 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a few spots comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the outer edges of the pan before inverting the cake onto a rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar and salt. Whisk in vanilla and milk. Glaze should be thick, but pourable.

Place the cake (still on the cooling rack) over a sheet of wax paper. Pour glaze over the top. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cake to a serving plate before slicing and serving.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter.

Chocolate Chip.

Cookie Cake.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeTake it from someone who has made three of these cakes since Saturday—this stuff is dangerous.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeIt’s basically one huge chocolate chip cookie that’s been amped up with brown butter. Oh, and the brown butter is melted rather than chilled and softened, so this is a no-waiting, no-mixer recipe. And there’s tons of deep caramel flavor from dark brown sugar. And chocolate chips.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeIt’s dangerous, I tell you.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeDid I mention the Chocolate Buttercream? It’s pretty important—I consider it one of the two things that makes this dessert a cake instead of just a gigantic cookie (the other is that it’s baked in a cake pan). This frosting is everything. Seriously. It’s sweet, buttery, and intensely chocolaty, but also almost ethereally light and fluffy. And easy. And difficult to stop eating with a spoon once you’ve finished using it for decoration 😬

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeSo basically what I’m saying is that you absolutely should make this Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, but don’t attempt it alone. You’ll need someone to keep you from eating the whole thing.

Luckily for all of us, it’s always more fun to share dessert.Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes 1 9-inch round cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For decoration:
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below)
rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl.

Whisk dark brown sugar into the brown butter, followed by egg and yolk and vanilla. Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips. Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 20-22 minutes, until the top no longer appears shiny.

Let cookie cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan before inverting the cake onto the rack. Revert onto a serving plate. Decorate with Chocolate Buttercream and sprinkles as desired.

Decorated cake will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Chocolate Buttercream
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
3 tablespoons heavy cream

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Load into a piping bag fitted with a tip (I used a star tip here), or spread with an offset icing knife.

Funfetti Layer Cake

Funfetti Layer CakeI didn’t have any real reason to make a Funfetti Layer Cake this week. There were no special occasions. Nobody asked for a cake. Today is my dad’s birthday and Sunday is my pal, David’s, but neither of them would have Funfetti as their first choice. Nope.

Funfetti Layer CakeI just made this cake because I felt like it. In the last few weeks, I have stocked up on sprinkles at Sahadi’s and finally made a white cake recipe that I love, and if those two things aren’t enough reason to slap together a layer cake this cheerful…well, I don’t know what is.

Funfetti Layer CakeI mean, really. This has got to be the happiest cake on earth. Or at the very least, the happiest cake in Brooklyn 😍

Funfetti Layer CakeFunfetti Layer CakeFunfetti Layer CakeNow, you may be wondering what sets Funfetti Layer Cake apart from a plain white cake with some sprinkles. The answer is…well, not much. In fact the only differences between my regular white cake recipe and this cake are 1/4 teaspoon of imitation butter extract (for that box mix flavor without the box mix) and a veritable ton of rainbow sprinkles. There’s no big secret or anything—Funfetti is just white cake with pizzazz. Because sometimes you just need cake with pizzazz, am I right?!

Funfetti Layer CakeI frosted this cake with vanilla buttercream and coated the sides with as many nonpareils as the frosting would hold! This was done mostly because, as I have previously mentioned, the kitchen is the warmest room in my apartment right now—not ideal for beautiful frosting! This coating of sprinkles covers all manner of sad-looking frosting, and it’s super cute 💗

Funfetti Layer CakeFunfetti Layer CakeLook how adorable that is! I love how the bright white cake really makes the sprinkles pop. I’m just crazy about all that color 💕💕💕And as if aesthetics alone aren’t a good enough reason to make Funfetti Layer Cake from scratch, know that my version beats the pants off anything you can find in a box. The cake is light and buttery, and the frosting is super fluffy and delicious, and…oh, who am I kidding? This one’s all about the sprinkles.Funfetti Layer Cake

Funfetti Layer Cake
makes 1 three-layer frosted cake

To Grease the Pans:
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cake:
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups milk (not skim or fat-free)
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
4 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)*

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
5 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt 
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5-8 tablespoons heavy cream
rainbow sprinkles (jimmies or nonpareils), for decoration

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together oil and flour. Use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer to the entire insides of three 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Sift together four times. Do not skip this step. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, oil, vanilla and almond extracts, sour cream, and milk. Set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean, dry medium-large mixing bowl. Use the whisk attachment on an electric mixer to beat egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Do not over mix. Set aside.

Fold dry ingredients into wet in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Carefully fold half the whipped egg whites into the batter, followed by the other half. Fold in sprinkles.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Lightly tap each pan on the counter a couple of times just to help any large air bubbles dissipate. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans for fifteen minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge of the pans and inverting the layers onto a rack. Allow to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached. Frost and layer cooled cakes. Decorate with sprinkles immediately after frosting.

Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note:

For information on the difference between jimmies and nonpareils, click here.

Everyday Chocolate Cake

Everyday Chocolate CakeDo you ever have Chocolate Cake Emergencies? Times when you’ve just had a string of bad days or worked too much, or are in an otherwise foul mood that can only be solved with a bit of chocolate cake?

Everyday Chocolate CakeThis week has just been one big Chocolate Cake Emergency for me. I’m making a couple of big changes and I am a walking, talking ball of stress. Logically, I know that sweets cannot (and will not) fix any of my problems, but on a week like this, they sure can’t hurt.

Everyday Chocolate CakeEveryday Chocolate CakeEnter this Everyday Chocolate Cake: a nine-ingredient one-bowl wonder with no need for layering, frosting, or anything else. There are no difficult-to-find ingredients, unusual methods, or long processes—this is an easy, straightforward recipe with spectacular results. Really, this soft, fluffy, deeply chocolaty dessert is just what I want when a Chocolate Cake Emergency arises.

Everyday Chocolate CakeAs I said before, this cake doesn’t need any sort of adornment; I prefer to eat it by its lonesome or with a light dusting of confectioners sugar. If you want to get a little fancy, I recommend topping a slice with a scoop of ice cream (current favorite: Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Gelato) or drizzling the whole cake with ganache.

I’ll be real with you though—this cake really doesn’t need a thing. In fact, I think its less-is-more approach is what makes it so damn great.Everyday Chocolate Cake

Everyday Chocolate Cake
makes 1 9×5-inch loaf cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (I like Droste)
1 1/2 baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup milk (not skim or nonfat)
confectioners sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla.

Sift in flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Mix just until combined. Add milk and mix on low until combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Tap on counter to release any air bubbles. Bake 38-42 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Run a small, thin knife around the edge before inverting. Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired. Slice and serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.