Polar vortex and snow, that is what we came back to from warm and sunny, Charleston! In my opinion, snow has two sides to it a good side and a dark side, just like THE FORCE in Star Wars, seriously! Here, let me explain,
- The landscape becomes one big white gigantic frosted cake.
- You get a day off from work, if the snowfall is crazy heavy. At least a "delayed arrival" if traveling is bad.
- You can make flavored ices with fresh snow, though I don't recommend picking up snow from the side walk due to hygienic reasons.
- Most dogs love snow! Snoopy for one, loves to run and play in it and eat it.
- I learned that suede/leather etc. get destroyed by the salt.
- You tend to feel like your enacting a scene from Swan Lake due to a lack of form and balance and you fall on your back more often than necessary when things are slippery or if your dog is pulling you across the street to catch a squirrel.
- The day after a heavy snow day is like a hangover, everything on the roads is messy.
- Cleaning the salt out of the dog's paws and off the floor of your house.
To balance all the snow related events that happened this week, I baked a pound cake that was full of warm flavors. This simple cake has everything I've been craving for, especially on on a cold and wintry snow day. There's dark roast coffee that's interspersed with swirls of a sweet dark chocolate and hazelnut paste. This pound cake goes great with tea or coffee and at any time of the day. I adapted and modified the basic pound cake recipe from
. By the way, this is a fantastic cookbook and a big thank you to Sarah of
for the great recommendation. (I do need to work on my swirling technique here in this cake).
Note: I prefer to use raw hazelnuts with their skins for a fresher taste. However, if you have skinned pre-toasted hazelnuts, by all means use them, just skip the toasting part in Step 1 below and proceed directly to the food processor stage to prepare the chocolate-hazelnut paste.
pound cake with coffee, chocolate and hazelnuts
1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) raw hazelnuts with skin
1 cup (6 3/4 ounces) semi sweet dark chocolate chips
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
3 large eggs + 3 large yolks, whisked lightly
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) raw brown sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee (the dark roast variety is good here)
1 3/4 cups (7 ounces) cake flour
1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Spread the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in an oven for 15 minutes or until the nuts begin to brown. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and immediately transfer the hot nuts into a clean kitchen towel. Massage the nuts while they are still in the cloth to peel the skin off the hazelnuts. You can remove the skin off the hazelnuts that did not fall off. Place the warm nuts and chocolate chips in a food processor and pulse till you get a smooth paste. The heat of the hazelnuts will melt the chocolate. Keep this aside.
2. Grease and flour a 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.
3. In the mixing bowl of a food processor, add the butter and salt. Using the paddle attachment at medium high speed beat the butter and salt until soft and creamy. Reduce this speed to medium low and add the sugar in two additions. Once all the sugar is added, increase the speed to medium high and beat the ingredients for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. You might need to scrape the bowl down occasionally with a silicone/rubber spatula. Reduce the speed to medium and add the vanilla and the whisked eggs and yolks. Beat the ingredients for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
4. Sift the coffee and flour twice and then sift half of the dry ingredients over the butter-egg mixture. in the mixing bowl. Fold gently using a silicone/rubber spatula until combined. Sift the rest of the flour mix over the batter, repeat the folding process and scrape along the bottom of the container. There should be no visible flecks of flour at this point.
5. Pour half of the batter into the greased loaf pan. Add half of the chocolate-hazelnut paste prepared earlier. Then layer with the rest of the cake batter, followed by the rest of the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Take a skewer or knife and swirl it throughout the cake batter in the pan a couple of times to create a swirl/marble pattern. Place the pan on a cookie sheet and bake it on the middle rack for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted through the center of the cake. Note, the skewer will be gooey from the chocolate-hazelnut mixture but it should have cake crumbs if the cake is done. Rotate the cake half way through the baking process. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the loaf pan and then run a knife through the edges of the cake. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool for about 1- 1 1/2 hours before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.