February 15, 2005

on (the day after) Valentine's Day

Much love to everyone! :)

Over the years in Japan St. Valentine's Day has somehow become a day on which girls give chocolate to their sweetheart, or someone they want to be their sweetheart, or just about any guy around them. Anyways, chocolate-giving ritual is a excessively commercialized event that is said to have been first promoted by a chocolate company, but there's nothing wrong with having an opportunity to show your love to someone you love, and personally I won't complain about having another excuse to eat chocolate.

Yesterday I made Torta alla Gianduia, a.k.a. chocolate hazelnut cake based on a recipe from book How to Be a Domestic Goddess (2001, Hyperion) by Nigella Lawson. I mentally bookmarked this recipe as soon as I got this book, waiting for a chance to get the imperative ingredient, namely, Nutella.

Nutella is an Italian chocolate hazelnut spread that has fanatical fans throughout Europe, often spread over toasts or biscuits, but many would just stick their spoon (or even finger) into the jar and lick it straight. I am also a fan of it, but never had baked cake with it - yeah, why not?

The cake batter was fairly easy to make, and since I reduced the amount to one-third (otherwise I would have had to empty the whole 14-oz jar just for the cake, awful) and baked them in small ramekins, the cooking time was also very short, making the cakes ready in an hour or so. Cakes once rose pretty high, and then shrank - not just vertically but horizontally as well, making the cakes look rather ugly. Oh well.

Now I would normally skip most kind of frosting/icing/grazing to decolate a cake, but this time I did make something like chocolate frosting in order to enhance the overall impression of Nutella; I had been told by a friend who had already tried this recipe that the cake didn't taste too much of Nutella despite all that much of it baked into the cake. With this kind of thing, you have to use a lot if you want to taste it, a lot more than you'd think enough... that is a scary idea, but it is true. So instead of increasing the amount of Nutella in the cake, I whipped up Nutella-frosting by simply combining Nutella, rum, and a bit of milk (I didn't have heavy cream in my fridge).

Well, it worked good. The cake was just perfectly sweet and nutty, slightly fudgy, and the gooey frosting (sort of) added an extra Nutella kick. I liked the cake a lot.

(By the way, the postmark you see in the first photo is from a city called Loveland in Colorado. It is a sweet name of a place to send a card of sweet-sweet love, for sure...)


Anonymous said...

*drool* That looks soooo good! Chocolate and hazelnut s such a wonderful combination... and those little hazelnuts are so cute.  

Posted by lisa

Anonymous said...

Beautiful picture. I've made that cake before, actually before Nigella's book was published, having found it elsewhere (it must be a relatively old recipe) and, whilst I really loved it, especially the next day when the flavour and texture improves even more, I also noticed it didn't have a very strong nutella flavour. I love the fact it doesn't include any extra sugar, either, so it's not too sickly sweet.  

Posted by Niki

Anonymous said...

Chika - They're so pretty! I like the idea of the frosting. Who doesn't love Nutella? I think I've seen a 3kg bucket of those in Italy or France! I found Herme uses Nutella quite often in his recipes, so I'm looking forward to trying them.

I'd love to visit Loveland one day... 

Posted by keiko

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

lisa - true, chocolate x hazelnuts is such a divine combo.

Niki - I think it really hard to bring out enough nutella flavor in baked goods... it is meant to be eaten straight, after all. But I still love the cake, it was pretty sweet but we feel less guilty than it would have been with added sugar :P

keiko - yeah I've seen those 3-kg nuttela in a blog from Italy. Crazy, crazy, crazy, but I should be glad that I don't live in Italy, maybe? It's a bit of surprising that Pierre Herme uses nutella in his recipes! Wonder what they're like...

Posted by chika

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh...great pics! Nutella cake is one of my favorite desserts to bake because I get to lick the jar and beaters clean. I actually made a reduced fat version (which I've been meaning to blog about), and it was still very rich! 

Posted by Jessica

Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica,
I am really intrigued with the reduced-fat version of Nutella cake (is there any such thing!). I guess I should wait 'til you have blogged about it! 

Posted by chika