It’s surprising how quickly time flies. Where has the time gone? I’ve turned around to find that another year has slipped away, to realize I’ve become 22 and going on 23, and to spot two long white whiskers on my puppy’s graying muzzle.
It’s one thing to know that time waits for no one. It’s a whole other thing to experience it.
But time is a double-edged sword. At the same time, more of us are of legal drinking-age, I’ve plowed through half of my first year in medical school, and my gangly, shy little cousin has blossomed into a beautiful, strong 16-year old girl. Yesterday, as the world celebrated the first page of 2014, we celebrated Nat’s Sweet 16th – the age-marker for being halfway through high school, studying for AP tests, prepping for ACTs and SATs, and laying hands on the long-awaited driver’s license. Gosh I feel old.
Rare is the request for chocolate cake in my family, but chocolate cake Nat did request for her birthday. Embarking on an internet quest for a chocolate cake worthy of closing the covers of 2013, staining the crisp first pages of 2014, and marking the 16th chapter of my cousin’s life, I turned to my favorite bloggers for guidance. They didn’t let me down. Swimming through devil’s foods, black forests, and chocolate mirrors, I finally settled on another recipe from Joy the Baker: her Mocha Rum Cake. A recipe simply can’t go wrong when it starts off with melting bittersweet chocolate and butter together.
A cup of liqueur never hurts either. Instead of the dark rum that Joy used, I chose Frangelico, an Italian hazelnut-flavored liqueur. The chocolate and hazelnut pairing made perfect sense to a Nutella-nut like me.
Having left my baking equipment in Atlanta, I had to do some searching for cake pans. After digging around in one of my aunt’s basements, I finally uncovered an angel food cake pan I could use for the occasion. Wouldn’t it have been funny if I had chosen to make a devil’s food cake?
I wanted so much to scrap the whole cake idea and use this as fondue…it would have been so easy to demolish the entire bowl with some strawberries and bananas. I’m still not sure how I was able to resist it.
Tipsy Hazelnut Mocha Cake – adapted from Joy the Baker
cocoa powder for dusting
12 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Frangelico
1 1/3 cups strong brewed coffee
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 handful of pecans, chopped up and toasted
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter a 12-cup bundt- or angel’s food cake-pan and dust with cocoa powder. Tap out excess.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Over a pot of barely simmering water, melt and stir together the butter and chocolate in a large bowl until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in Frangelico, coffee, and sugar.
4. Beat in the dry ingredients 1/2 a cup at a time, remembering to scrape down the sides in-between. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well-combined.
5. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 1 hour and 40 minutes – 2 hours, being careful to not overbake.
6. Allow cake to cool completely in the cake pan on a cooling rack. Invert onto serving plate, drizzle with chocolate ganache and sprinkle with toasted pecans. Serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened, vanilla whipped cream.
For ganache: Heat 1/8 cup of half and half until just simmering and pour over 4 oz of chopped up chocolate. Stir until completely melted, adding a pinch of salt. Let sit until it reaches the desired consistency.
-Feel free to substitute any type of liqueur you’d like! Dark rum, brandy, amaretto, or cognac would all be excellent options.
-Try making it into a layer cake with a Nutella filling!
-Don’t want to use alcohol? Try using fruit juices or extra coffee instead.