This might be hands down the most delicious cake I have ever made. I’m not kidding–who knew a cake could remain so moist (sorry not sorry to you readers who hate that word) even when you abuse it by hacking it to pieces and leaving it on the counter (and by counter I mean the top of my parents washing machine) for several days? This cake withstood such torture and somehow remained soft without being oily and firm without being dry. Perfection.
I chose this recipe–initially intended to be cupcakes–because it was my dad’s birthday and the flavors seemed more masculine and adult themed than the more typical pink/girly/fruit explosion cakes that I normally lean toward. But if I am being completely honest I chose this cake because I have been dying, absolutely DYING, to try my hand at sugar dipped hazelnuts, and this recipe seemed like the perfect opportunity. So sorry dad, this cake was 90% just for little old narcissistic me over here! (Though to be fair he did enjoy the cake so everybody wins, right?)
For some reason I also decided that this would be the optimal time to start making videos of my baking process…………which….well, it all ended up alright, but I am always baffled with how I can turn something simple into something needlessly complex and takes three times longer than it needed to. I think I am related to my younger brother more than I sometimes like to admit… (Just don’t tell him I said that).
So I started by making the chocolate cake (aka my moist miracle cake) on Thursday, followed by making the caramelized hazelnuts, frosting, soaked figs and finishing the cake on Friday. I like to let my cakes sit in the refrigerator for several hours before I stack them, which is fortunately or unfortunately the result of personal experience with a Mt. Vesuvius type cake situation several years ago, where too large and tall a cake was stacked while still on the warm side….and COMPLETELY melted/tore/slid apart only minutes after it was completed. So being much wiser, I now make my cakes a day ahead of time to avoid such situations and to reduce stress the day of. Also I like to take pictures in good daylight and in Minnesota at this time of year it means completing everything before 4:00pm. T_T
Having made the caramelized hazelnuts I could now do it much quicker…and if I had not tried to take a million pictures in terrible lighting and also take videos of every step of the process it would have gone much faster as well. My advice is to make sure to put a lot of newspaper down on your floor because the sugar leaves huge strings everywhere–but that is also a plus because that means you can make sugar nests at the same time as the caramelized hazelnuts. Also every recipe I saw said to use the hazelnuts the same day, within hours even, but I think they can easily be used the day after since they didn’t seem to change in consistency at all between day one and even day three.
Besides the hazelnuts, I got all the parts of my recipe from F&B Department–though as I mentioned the original recipe was for cupcakes, so I doubled everything and made a four layer 6″ cake + 6 cupcakes. I also used dried figs instead of the fresh ones, as I made it at the wrong time of year and none of the grocery stores in my area are selling fresh figs. But thats okay, because the dried figs worked perfectly.
Without further ado here is the video of my cake from start to finish:
I am so ridiculously happy with how the super-fastforward of the frosting of the cake went…I could watch that on repeat all day (which maybe is weird because I literally was there and the person frosting the cake to begin with….but thats fine….we already knew I was abnormal :P)
It was unfortunately quite cloudy while I was making the cake, but I did manage to get some good pictures–so make sure to take a look before you go on to the recipe below! The design of the cake and the addition of the hazelnuts was entirely my own creation, and actually I was working off of a sketch that I had drawn out the week before I made this cake.
Fig, Cognac and Mascarpone Chocolate Cake
Recipe adapted from F&B Department
Chocolate Cake Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (I prefer paste to extract, but you can use extract)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot coffee (I used two shots of espresso + hot water)
2/3 cup sour cream
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare four 6″ cake tins and a muffin tin. Set aside.
2) In the bowl of a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter, then whisk in the cocoa powder once completely melted. Take off the heat and set aside.
3) Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
4) Using an electric mixer, beat the sugars and eggs until pale. Add the vanilla and chocolate mixture, and beat until combined. Alternately add the flour mixture, coffee and sour cream, beating until smooth.
5) Divide the batter between the prepared tins and scoop remaining batter into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes, then set on wire racks to cool to room temperature. Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Cognac and Mascarpone Frosting Ingredients (double batch)
16 oz mascarpone
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
~8 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons Cognac (or heavy cream if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
pinch of salt
1) In the bowl of an electric mixer, bead the mascarpone and butter until smooth.
2) Add in the sugar 1 cup at a time, stopping to scrape the sides and check the consistency.
3) Beat in the Cognac, vanilla and salt. Add extra powdered sugar as needed to maintain the consistency you are looking for. Set aside.
Soaked Fig Ingredients
10-15 dried figs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 – 1/2 cup Cognac
1/4 cup water
1) In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, Cognac and water. Heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes.
2) Cut half of the figs in half and add all of the figs to the syrup. Continue to cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove the figs from the syrup and place on a plate to rest and cool.
*You can save the syrup to drizzle over the cakes or discard it as you like.