Has there ever been a better food-related invention than Nutella? Chocolate + hazelnut is some serious creative genius!
This Friday is (apparently) World Nutella Day. I’m not sure what to make of this arbitrary day of distinction, outside of the fact that it’s a great excuse to slather and slap Nutella in or on just about anything! I mean, I already do this with my morning oatmeal but now I’ve got some justification for that one day out of the year :)
I made this epic chocolate Nutella layer cake awhile back and I’ve just been waiting for a good time to share it and really let it shine—it seems that now is the time. This past year marked my first attempts at creating layer cakes (like these banana and brown butter pumpkin ones) and I found that frosting them into pretty, perfect cakes was MUCH harder than I could have guessed. It seems so simple, right? Just slap on some frosting, use a knife to spread it around and voila!
Nope. Nope. That’s not how it went for me. I found that cake bits would be falling off, sticking to the frosting, refusing to stay in place. That’s when I found out about the secret “crumb layer.” Yep, a CRUMB layer. In essence, many frosted cakes have TWO distinct layers of frosting, a preliminary layer (called a crumb layer since it’s used to seal up the cake crumbs), and then the real layer that you see in all of it’s perfection on top! So that’s what I did with this here cake. I used a Nutella buttercream frosting as the inner cake layer before frosting with the final layer of vanilla buttercream to really give this stunning layer cake that glow of outwardly perfection.
It also helped that it was also inwardly perfect—it’s a crowd pleaser for sure, with the moist chocolate cake layers, and a creamy Nutella frosting sandwiched within! And I’ll just leave the recipe below…
- 2 c flour
- 2 c granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 large egg
- 1 c buttermilk or sour milk
- 1/2 c vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 c water, boiling
- 1-1/2 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2-3/4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 cup Nutella
- 4 tbs heavy cream
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 c (heaping) roasted hazelnuts, chopped with few whole for presentation
- Pre heat oven to 350 F and line and flour two 8-inch round pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder) on low with a wisk.
- Add in egg, oil, and buttermilk/sour milk to dry ingredients and incorporate with whisk until well mixed.
- Add in vanilla and boiling water, and wisk into mixture until well mixed.
- Pour mixture into two 8-inch rounds.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean, or center springs back when lightly touched.
- Let sit for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Using electric mixer or stand mixer, beat butter on medium until light and creamy (2-3 minutes).
- Add in confectioners' sugar and beat with butter, followed by the Nutella and ensuring that the ingredients are well incorporated with each addition.
- Add in heavy cream and vanilla. The heavy cream really gives this frosting a creamy texture!
- Add salt to taste; salt can be used to cut the sweetness. To vary consistency, add cream for a more creamy texture, and add confectioners' sugar for a thicker consistency.
- Trim any rounded tops (these cakes are generally fairly flat and shouldn't require too much trimming) to ensure flat surfaces for the cakes.
- On a turntable and cake board or prepared surface, spread a thin layer of frosting and place the first layer of cake on top, trim side down. The frosting secures the cake in place.
- Start with about a 1/2 c of frosting in the center of the cake and use a spatula to spread the frosting to the outside perimeter with even distribution. The frosting should be about 1cm thick across.
- Add the second trimmed cake layer with the trimmed side down on top of the freshly frosted first layer. Repeat with another ~1/2 c of frosting for the top layer.
- Lastly, add another 1/2 c of frosting and work to the edges with a spatula; drag the excess frosting down to the cake sides and frost down the edges to get a nice "crumb" layer over the entire cake. The crumb layer seals in all those pesky crumbs that fall off the cake during the frosting process!
- Place prepared cake with crumb layer into the refridgerator for 1 hour.
- With the cooled and set crumb layer cake, place a large dollap of frosting in the center of the cake, and just as before, work with a spatula out to the edges, dropping down the sides with the excess frosting. Repeat as needed until entire cake is covered.
- With remaining frosting, place in a piping bag with fitted tip to apply any final decorations. (I like to like the bottom border with some frosting to hide the ugly line I usually end up with!)
- Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts along the outer perimeter on the top side of the cake. Or place along the side or bottom edge---this is up to one's creativity! Add a few whole hazelnuts to the center of the cake for the finishing touch.
- Store covered in refridgerator, and return to room temperature when ready to serve. Enjoy!
- To simulate buttermilk, I add a 1tbs of lemon juice to 1 c of soymilk, stir, and wait about 10 minutes.
- There are a number of steps for this cake; I ended up making the chocolate cake the night before, storing in the refridgerator wrapped in plastic wrap before assembling.
- For the vanilla buttercream outer frosted coat, I split the Nutella frosting recipe into half for just the crumb layer, and then made the outer layer with a half recipe of a Vanilla Buttercream (http://pennyforherthoughts.com/strawberry-cupcakes-vanilla-icing/)