Monday, March 31, 2008

I have a crush...

P “Did you see…”

G “…Tartelette’s Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Pie!”

P “What’d ya think?”

G “Well, you know me, I don’t like fruit desserts that much. I’d rather make the chocolate coffee tartelettes.”

P “mmm…I think I’m going to have to try them.”

P and G (in unison) “I love Tartelette!”

It may be slightly apparent from this small snippet of a probable but fictional (and slightly overdramatized) conversation with my co-worker that we have a bit of a crush on Tartelette. It was the first blog, I started reading regularly and began my path into the foodie blog world. I love the way she presents her delicious and inventive desserts through interesting witty prose and beautiful photography. I soon became hooked on the Daring Bakers, branched out into many other blogs and then ultimately started my own. Thank you Tartelette for your inspiration! and for my new cookbook!

A few weeks ago, I had the luck and honor to win The Sweet Melissa Baking Book from Tartelette’s random drawing. This book is excellent. I have flipped through it a number of times. In fact, it was on my night stand for a little while so I could read it before bed and hope for some sweet dreams... Each time, I discover something new that I am dying to make. Recently, work has been a little rough and everyone is very stressed. So, I decided that a cake would cure everything or at least give everyone a wonderful sugar rush. After some debate, I settled on the Hazelnut Raspberry Layer Cake because I was intrigued by the Hazelnut cake layers. It is true, I always gravitate towards chocolate desserts. If I order a dessert at a restaurant, which is rare because I normally walk away feeling like I could do better, it tends to be chocolate. Lately I have been trying to grow as a cook and a person by branching out of my chocolate comfort zone. I've even made a few lemon cakes and loved me I did not like lemon before at all. I thought a hazelnut cake with fruit would be a wonderful new thing to try. When I saw the gorgeous, fresh, and less expensive strawberries, I decided to substitute them for the raspberries.

The cake is phenomenal. The layers were light and fluffy. The buttercream to die for. Cake decoration is not my strong point...I tend to cover all mistakes with more icing. This cake is very forgiving as the buttercream covers all problems and looks great in the process. I am going to enter this into Mike's Strawberry Seduction event because doesn't it just tempt you..mmm...maybe its time to break into the extra buttercream!

Hazelnut Strawberry Layer Cake
(adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book)

1 2/3 cups hazelnuts, toasted and cooled (See P.S.)
2 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 large egg whites, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Butter and flour to 9in cake pans. Line each pan with a 9in round of parchment paper.
3. In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts with 2/3 cup sugar and pulse grind until it is a coarse flour.
4. Transfer hazelnut flour into a large bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, an additional 2/3 cup of the sugar and the baking powder, and whisk to combine.
5. Have ready a fine-meshed strainer (I used a sifter). In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, brown the butter over medium heat. When the milk solids have reached a nutty brown color, immediately remove from heat. Using the strainer, strain the butter into the flour mixture. Stir to combine. Discard butter solids. Stir in vanilla.
6. In a clean bowl of an electric mixer with a clean whip attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks (I used my hand mixer and it worked but took a while). In a slow steady stream, with the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining 2/3 cup of the sugar. Increase the speed to high. Beat until they are firm, not dry, glossy peaks of meringue.
7. Using a rubber spatula, briskly fold on-third of the meringue into the batter to lighten it. Add the remaining meringue and gently fold until just combined.
8. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 20 minutes before turning the layers out onto the rack. Cool completely before filling and frosting.

Strawberry Buttercream

2 cups chopped strawberries
2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 water
3 egg whites, at room temperature
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cup strawberries sliced for decoration and filling

1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the 2/3 cup of sugar and the water and cook to 240
˚F on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in another bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the 3 tablespoons sugar and beat until there are medium stiff-but not dry-peaks of meringue.
3. When the sugar syrup reaches 240˚F, decrease the speed of the mixer to medium, and immediately but slowly pour the hot liquid sugar in a steady stream down the side of the and into the meringue. Beat together until stiff glossy peaks form.
4. With the mixer on medium speed, add the butter in pieces to meringue. The mixture will break, but just keep beating and it will come together beautifully.
5. Pour the strawberries into buttercream and beat until combined.

Put it together:
1. Spread buttercream over one layer of cake. Cover with chopped strawberries.
2. Place the second layer onto the first layer. Ice the sides and top. Check out this for tips.

P.S. Toasting Hazelnuts:
Preheat oven to 350. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 7 minutes. Halfway through stir the hazelnuts.


Manggy said...

For a title there I thought this post was gonna be about me! Haha. :) You're a very sweet co-worker! They're lucky to be working with you.

Kevin said...

Your cake looks good! I like the sound of the hazelnuts in the cake and the strawberries in the buttercream.

Peabody said...

I have a crush on her too. :)
Great looking cake.

Pixie said...

Mmmmm, this looks lovely. I can't wait for strawberries to be in season and try some of the recipes from Mike's event, including this one!

Sylvie said...

Oh my that looks so delicious. How could you go wrong with something that has strawberries and hazlenuts in it?!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I agree, Tarlette's blog is top notch. It was one of the first blogs I every read too. She is also very kind. She has some mad skills!

LyB said...

Seems we're all a bit sweet on Tartelette! Your cake looks so incredible, and a hazelnut cake intrigues me too!

Resa said...

Ginny making/eating a lemon dessert? ::dies of shock::

Anali said...

Such a pretty cake! I love how all the Daring Bakers have their own take and everyone's dessert and post is so different. I have some blog crushes too! It's funny how that happens. : ) Thanks for dropping by my blog!

Gattina said...

I think your combo of hazelnuts and strawberry already a big winner! And I see the cake texture... perfect!

Ginny said...

manggy- haha!!! who said I can't have more than one crush? ;) My co-workers love me, their waistlines...probably not!

kevin- it is a great combination. You must give it a shot sometime.

peabody- thank you!

pixie- thank you! I can't wait too! I love strawberries!

sylvie- you really can't- I found out the easy way!

jenn- isn't she just great?

lyb- it was definitely worth it! The flavor and texture was phenomenal.

resa- yes, sist! mom said it was our southern roots coming through!

anali- thanks for visiting mine!

gattina- thanks! The texture was great!

SweetDesigns said...

Fantastic! nothing like a lovely strawberry cake, and with hazelnuts! I want a slice!!!