This hazelnut cake with fluffy light marshmallow topping’s simple ingredients and creamy hazelnut flavor is a wonderful treat that isn’t overly cloying with its sweetness.
You know what would make a giant slice of this homemade hazelnut cake just about perfect right now? A small cafe table, fresh steaming lattes, and laughter. This hazelnut cake is the kind of dessert made for sharing with friends and enjoying slowly with a airy marshmallow fluff frosting and chocolate dusting.
What makes a great cake?
Is it the moist crumbs on the inside with light flavors, or the soft pillowy frosting the holds it all together and brings out the kid in all of us? I wasn’t really sure until I was sitting in a tiny cafe in Bamberg Germany. It had been raining out and after exploring a bit of the university city, we were ready to head back the river cruise boat. We stopped into the cafe seeking warmth and a break from the weather. We only had a few spare Euros in our pockets between us. But that is the beauty of Europe, a few spare Euros may get you a cup of wonderful hot coffee and a slice of something from the bakery counter.
We eyeballed one another and then the cakes on display in disbelief over their simple beauty. Apple strudels, tarts, truffles, and cakes. Every type of cake you could imagine in a tiny little bakery cake all sliced and ready to be served. We settled on a marzipan cake, and honestly, I am not sure why. It was beautiful, yes, but they all were. Why marzipan I will never really know. The waitress brought it out to us and we shared our single slice with two forks. The first forkful sank through the fondant-like layer and into the cake below revealing a thin layer of marzipan cream. I bit into it knowing full well every dessert I had enjoyed while exploring had been better than the last. What I wasn’t expecting was the best cake I had ever tasted.
The single bite was soft, delicate, and yet the subtle flavors and not too sweet marzipan filling worked magic. This was what cake could be. It was everything and more without being dense or heavy. It was everything baking should be. And I knew in that moment the quest to learn a new love for baking would hit me when I returned home. I would want to hunt and research. Work and rework recipes until I could share this cake with my loved ones at home.
This hazelnut cake with fluffy light marshmallow topping is not that marzipan cake, not by a long shot. But when I saw it, something in its simple ingredients and creamy hazelnut flavor reminded me of that slice and got me into the kitchen to create something. It is a wonderful cake. The hazelnut blends into the tender little crumbs and the fluff frosting isn’t overly cloying with its sweetness. It’s a mature sort of cake that would be wonderful at a bridal or baby shower, perfect for a grown-up birthday party. The sort of cake that reminds you to stop and sip some tea while enjoying.
And who knows, maybe it was the fact that I stopped to savor every flavor and texture of the cake, sip my latte, and chat with friends escaping the cold rain of Bamberg’s late fall showers that really made that marzipan cake so amazing. Or maybe it really was just that good. Until I find a similar recipe to recreate here in my own kitchen, I guess I will never really know.
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For the Hazelnut Cake
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
- 1 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 eggs, plus 5 egg whites
- 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
for the Frosting
- 24 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 12 oz marshmallow fluff
- 2 tbs hazelnut liqueur
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
Make the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 9" round cake pans with parchment paper and grease the bottom only.
- Rub the skins off of the hazelnuts then pulse in a food processor until finely ground. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground hazelnuts in the bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, water, egg yolks, and vanilla. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour.
- Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with the cream of tar tar in the bowl of your stand mixer over low for a minute, until foamy. Slowly increase to medium high, and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until soft peaks form. Fold the egg white mixtures in 3 batches to the flour mixture until combined. Divide between the two prepared pans. Wiggle and tap the sides gently to remove air bubbles.
- Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, until light and golden and spring back when gently pressed.
- Place the pans on wire racks and cool for 15 minute. Run a knife around the edges and flip onto the cooling racks and cool completely.
For the Frosting
- In the clean bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter about 1 minute. Add the salt and cream 1 minute longer. Scrape down the sides and add the sugar in small batches until combined. Increase the speed to medium and cream until all combined. Scrape down the sides and start to marshmallow creme until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed, add the liqueur and beat one final time until combined.
- Freeze the shredding disk to your food processor and chocolate for 20 to 30 minutes before fitting the chocolate through the feed tube and shredding. Arrange the shredded chocolate on a sheet pan and freeze until ready to use.
Frost the Cakes
- Spread 1 cup of the frosting on the first cake layer. Top with the second cake and spread the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
- Make a little shovel out of folded parchment and scoop up some of the chocolate flakes. Carefully press scoopfuls of the chocolate along the sides of the cake and the top if you desire. Allow to chill in fridge until ready to serve.
- When serving, allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.
Cooks Country December/January 2016
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 659 Saturated Fat: 24g Cholesterol: 102mg Sodium: 166mg Carbohydrates: 73g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 55g Protein: 4g