In celebration of Valentine's / Galentine's / LOVE Day, I made a little sweetheart cake to bring more love into our lives. I don't know about you, but the news has been especially weighing on me and seems to just get heavier and heavier as the days go on. This year I'm not looking at February 14th as a romantic holiday to celebrate with my hubby. I see Feb 14th as a reminder to give more love to everyone on that day and every day.
This recipe is a variation of that classic combo and playing with texture and other complementary flavors. I'm a pretty big fan of chocolate and strawberries as a combo if it isn't clear already. Haha. Promise I'll come up with more recipes that aren't chocolate and strawberry ;)
This chocolate cake is much lighter than my other recipe and I love the addition of hazelnuts since it gives it a little crunch and the nuttiness goes nicely with the chocolate. As for the buttercream, I added rosé wine to give it a little bite to the sweetness of the strawberry. I gotta say I'm definitely using this buttercream recipe for other desserts in the future! #roseallday
I think a 6" cake is the perfect sweetheart sized cake for a small dinner party. I'm also not opposed to using a little fondant and sprinkles to add those finishing touches but they're definitely not crucial to a beautiful and delicious cake. I've included below if you're interested in learning how to make fondant hearts without a cutter.
This was a fun cake to make since I'm usually making cakes with 6 layers vs. 3 layers and soo much easier. Ahhh those even layers are also so calming for my OCD need for perfect layers and cake. The other new technique was to have the top of the cake a different color from the sides of the cake.
The key to this look is to pipe and nearly finish smoothing out the top layer first. Then pipe and smooth out the sides of the cake. From there, as you smooth out the top edges, make sure to clean your spatula or flat surface after every swipe.
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake + Strawberry Rosé Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes One 6" sweetheart love cake
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake:
- 1 cup roasted unsalted hazelnuts, finely ground
- 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 1 cup whole milk, room temp
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Strawberry Rosé Swiss Meringue buttercream:
- 7 egg whites, room temp
- pinch of cream of tartar or a couple drops of lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 1/2 sticks butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch kosher salt
- 1/4 cup + 1-2 tablespoons fresh strawberry puree
- 3 to 5 tablespoons dry rosé
- 1/3 cup freeze dried strawberries (They sent good ones at Trader Joe's.)
- couple drops of food coloring
- sprinkles, fondant and any other decoration finishes
MAKING CHOCOLATE CAKE:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 3 6" round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. If you didn't buy roasted hazelnuts then make sure to roast them yourself either in a pan (no oil) oven then let to come to room temp. Place roasted hazelnuts into a food processor and grind until they become small crumbs but not too much where they are a paste! Measure out ¼ of the hazelnuts and set aside. This can be used either on top of the cake or for other recipes.
3. In a stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, add the processed hazelnuts, sugar, all-purpose flour, cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt. Mix until incorporated.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract. (All but the water.) Then slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the stand mixer bowl with the dry ingredients. Batter will be on the thicker side so this is where you stir in the boiling water. After incorporating it will be a very thin, wet batter. Total process shouldn't take long and make sure to not over-mix the ingredients.
5. Divide the batter evenly into prepared pans. I use a kitchen scale and think it might be time for a new one! Then tap the baking sheets against the table to remove the air pockets.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Give the cake pans a turn halfway through the baking (after 8 minutes).
7. Let cake cool on a wire rack until ready to frost.
MAKING SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
1. Cut/clean fresh strawberries and place them into a food processor to puree then set aside. Will only need 1/4 of the puree for one batch of buttercream. Add wine to the strawberries In a food processor blend the freeze dried strawberries to a fine powder and set aside.
2. Add whisk attachment to stand mixer. Wipes down the electric bowl mixer with some lemon juice to ensure no fat/oil contamination. Add in egg whites and granulated sugar.
3. Create a double boiler with a medium pot filled 1/3 of the way with water. Ensure that the mixer bowl does not touch the water.
4. Add stand bowl with eggs & sugar and place over the boiling water with a medium heat. Lightly and constantly whisk the egg whites to avoid any eggs cooking. After 4 minutes or so, check temperature of eggs and ensure it reaches 160°F / 71°C.
4. Place bowl back on stand mixer and begin to mix on medium high for about 10 minutes. Will want your egg whites to be at a stiff peak. Check your bowl at 8 minutes and see how much more is needed.
5. When bowl is cool to touch, remove whisk attachment and switched to the paddle attachment. Start adding in butter one tablespoon at a time and incorporate all the butter on the slow setting.
6. After butter is incorporated, add vanilla extract. Keep mixing until light, creamy and airy.
7. Set aside 2/3 of the batch in a bowl since that will be the buttercream used for the outside of the cake. The other 1/3 of the buttercream, add in 1/4 cup of strawberry puree, strawberry powder and 5 tablespoons of rosé. Continue to mix in the stand mixer. Taste this as you go! If you need more strawberry, add more powder. If you need more rosé, then add another tablespoon. Careful not to over add on liquid. Always make sure you mix fully before adding more when you're tasing.
8. Of the remaining 2/3 batch of buttercream, divide to two bowls again 1/3 in one bowl (light pink for top of the cake) and 2/3 in another bowl (darker pink for the sides of the cake).
9. Apply light pink buttercream to the top of the cake and smooth out as you would normally do. THEN apply the darker pink buttercream on the sides. Carefully smooth out buttercream and when working on the edges of the cake on the top, wipe every time you swipe with your spatula/straight edge.
10. Decorate with sprinkles and fondant hearts.