Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hazelnut Pound Cake with Chocolate Sauce

Took this cake to a Memorial Day weekend party with friends. They are always a hungry, easy-going crowd, so I thought I'd experiment by adapting my favorite pound cake recipe. I used Frangelica (hazelnut flavored liqueur) instead of lemon juice and added a chocolate sauce, just in case the cake wasn't strong enough on it's own.

This recipe requires a food processor, but it is worth getting it out of the closet. It's a fast and easy way to make a pound cake. Learned this technique in a 2002 issue of Cook's Illustrated.

For the cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
1 1/2 c. cake flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 c. sugar
3 T. Frangelica hazelnut liqueur
4 large eggs
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9x5" loaf pan with softened butter, dust with flour, tap out excess and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a glass measuring cup, microwave the butter, just until melted. Whisk melted butter thoroughly to reincorporate any separated milk solids.

In a food processor, add sugar.

Add liqueur, eggs, and vanilla; process until combined about 5 seconds. With the machine running, add melted butter through the feed tube in a steady stream. Takes about 20 seconds. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

Sift flour mixture over eggs mixture in three steps, whisking gently after each addition until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce to 325 degrees and continue to bake until deep golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.

Poke holes all over the cake. On top and on the sides.

Brush on glaze. Cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour. Cooled cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.

For the glaze:
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. Frangelica hazelnut liqueur

While the cake is cooling, bring sugar and liqueur to boil in a small nonreactive saucepan, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.

For the sauce:
adapted from a Betty Rosbottom recipe

4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
4 ounces good quality dark choc. chips (3/4 c.)
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. light corn syrup
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 t. vanilla extract
1 T. hazelnut liqueur
1 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts
pinch of salt

The Betty Rosbottom recipe has slightly different mix of ingredients (unsweetened chocolate, no salt, no liqueur, more cream) and she cooks this recipe on the stove, which takes at least 20 minutes of carefully watching and stirring. Too much hassle for me. I decided to do it in the microwave.

In a microwave safe vessel (I used a 4 cup Pyrex measuring bowl), place the butter, the corn syrup, the choc. chips, and the sugar. Mix it together thoroughly, so that it is uniformly wet.

Place the bowl on a plate and microwave it on high for 1 minute. Remove and mix the ingredients together until the butter melts from the residual heat and the mixture is smooth.

Cool slightly. Then, add a little bit of cream. Mix it in. Then add the rest of the cream, and stir until your mixture is homogeneous and smooth.

Heat for 5 minutes on high, stopping after each minute to stir thoroughly. Do not let it come to a boil.

Remove, add the vanilla extract. At this point, I set aside a cup for those who do not like nuts.

Pour the hazelnut liqueur over the hazelnuts, salt them, then stir together to coat. Fold them into the remaining chocolate sauce.

Makes 3 cups in total. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, according to Betty Rosbottom. Reheat slowly on low heat, stirring constantly, before serving. Or pop it in the microwave on low for a while.

P.S. If you don't know Betty Rosbottom, she has excellent recipes and I enjoy her cookbooks. My mother-in-law gave me her Cooking School Cookbook.

After the party, the consensus was the pound cake was excellent, including the fudge sauce, but the nuts in the sauce could have been skipped.

I was surprised how many people said they don't like hazelnuts. Interesting. But no one complained that hazelnut liqueur was in the pound cake. They loved it. And I must say that my microwave version of the chocolate fudge sauce was very tasty.

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