It seems like every year someone asks me who will make my birthday cake. And I guess that makes sense, usually people enjoy letting other people do some of the work for their birthday (or maybe they just enjoy the cake?). But for me, more than half the fun comes from planning and making my cake.
Through out the year I keep mental notes of cakes and flavors that look or sound interesting and then a few weeks before my birthday I started planning what I actually want to do. Last year, I had ice cream on the brain. This year, I had gelato on the brain.
Back in San Diego there is a gelato shop that Jesse and I love. The location is awesome, right near La Jolla cove, so we would typically treat our selves after a nice evening of watching the waves and seals. The first time we went I got a scoop of salted caramel and scoop of chocolate hazelnut and I was immediately hooked. It became my standard order. Makes me drool just thinking about it! Like a match made in heaven!
With that in mind, I created the concept for this years cake. I.am.so.excited about how it turned out. The frosting is an absolute dream. Smooth and creamy with the perfect hint of hazelnut. The salty caramel is the perfect match. In fact, I’d like to go out on a limb and say that chocolate hazelnut and salted caramel is the new peanut butter and jelly. Finally, when we threw our party last month one of our guests brought us Ferrero Rocher candies and they were the perfect garnish. Happy Birthday to me!
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans with butter, flour, and parchment paper. (Grease pans with butter. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of each pan. Butter the parchment paper then add about a tablespoon of flour to each pan, shake and tap until it’s evenly distributed)
In a glass measuring cup stir together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a standing mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment). With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients, mix until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and, with the mixer on low, add the hot coffee. Mix just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl one more time.
Evenly distribute the batter between the two cakes pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then flip out onto the wire racks.
1 cup white sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted good quality butter (I sprung for the President!)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp sea salt, divided
Spread the sugar in a thin layer in a thick bottomed pan over medium heat. Leave undisturbed until the sugar around the edges starts to melt. Give the pan a swirl to redistribute the sugar. Repeat a few times. When most of the sugar has melted, you can give it a stir with a wooden spoon. When all of the sugar has melted and it is a dark golden amber color, remove from the heat.
When the melted sugar is off the heat, add the butter and stir. It will foam up. Stir until melted. Once the butter has melted entirely, pour in the cream and whisk/stir until you have a smooth sauce. Stir in half the salt then allow to cool completely. Once cool, stir in the other half of the salt.
Nutella Cloud Frosting*
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups premium bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
2/3 cup Nutella
2 tablespoon milk
pinch of salt
*If you decide not to torte your cake (cut the layers in half) you can use half of this recipe
In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sifted confectioners sugar for about 1 minute. Add the vanilla, and beat on low for another 30 seconds. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth. Add the Nutella, milk, and a pinch of salt, and beat on medium-high speed for another minute.
To assemble the cake
Salted Caramel Sauce
Nutella Cloud Frosting
6-8 Ferrero Rocher candies, cut in half
Extra sea salt for sprinkling, optional
Cardboard cake round
Start by cutting the two cake layers in half. Place one half of one cake on the cardboard cake round. Drizzle about 1/3 of a cup of caramel sauce over the entire surface, use a spatula to evenly distribute. Top with a good heaping spoonful of frosting and spread to the edges. Repeat with the next 2 layers.
Place the 4th and final cake layer. Frost the top and sides and with the remainder of the frosting. Drizzle caramel sauce about the edge, all around the top of the cake (I started about 2 inches from the edge and poured the caramel while turning the turn table, working my way to the edge). The sauce should start to work it’s way over the edge and drip down the sides, but if it doesn’t you can use the back of a spoon or a spatula to give it a nudge. Finally, sprinkle the caramel with a little bit of sea salt and garnish with Ferrero Rocher halves.
Sunny Side Up Original idea