Yes! You read that right. I am cooking recipes out of the World of Warcraft Official Cookbook. For a nice introduction to the when, where and why of it all, see my first post here.
This month (March) in our house means a couple of birthdays, mine included. So working this recipe into our menu wasn’t hard! The recipe itself isn’t too difficult, but candying the nuts on your own is a little tedious and frustrating unless you are a candy pro. You can easily buy already candied nuts and save yourself the hassle. I did the candying, muttering under my breath the entire time I was trying to pry those little suckers off the parchment paper.
What I really enjoy about it is that it’s messy. The whipped cream frosting is just sort of splatted on there, cake layers are set askew. The author suggests piping rosette stars with a pastry bag and star tip, but I didn’t do that, mainly because I don’t have a pastry bag and I didn’t want to go get one! I think it turned out quite well anyway, the messiness being part of the character of the cake. Looks just like the avatar from inside the game.
Note: This recipe contains hazelnuts and hazelnut spread, so if there is a nut allergy in your house, might want to skip those ingredients and use something else (like cookie butter !!).
“There is surely no better way to mark a special occasion than with a cake like this one. Each bite bursts with warming spices, while the smooth nuttiness of the whipped cream manages to keep it feeling light. So go ahead, have another slice. You’re celebrating!” Chelsea Monroe-Cassel, WoW Official Cookbook
I only made a couple of changes to this recipe as I don’t like to mess with baking recipes much. The first adaptation was necessary as the ratio of buttermilk to flour in the mix wasn’t enough. The batter was WAY too dense using the original formula – denser even than brownie batter. So I added 2 tbsp. of water and another tbsp. of buttermilk and that thinned it out enough to get it into the pan. The second change I made was to spread a thin layer of the Nutella on the cakes before adding the whipped cream frosting for extra chocolatey-nutty goodness. This cake was for my son’s birthday and he loves Nutella, so the choice was personal. 🙂
For the cake:
- 1 1/2 c ap flour
- 1 c sugar
- 1/2 c cocoa powder (I used raw cacao powder, since we had some and it’s deeply chocolatey +superfood goodness)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 c buttermilk +1 tbsp
- 1/2 c vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp water
For the whipped cream:
- 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp sugar
- dash of vanilla
- 1/2 cup of Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread, softened to room temp.
For the candied nuts:
- 1/2 c of sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 c toasted hazelnuts
- pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 and lubricate two 8 or 9 inch cake pans.
The thing about using buttermilk and baking soda as leavening apparently means you don’t have to cream your sugar and oil. So that was a cool time saver. Sift all dry ingredients together, then add the liquid ingredients and beat with a mixer for a minute or two until you have a nice, smooth batter. Divide evenly between two round baking pans.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and then carefully remove from pans and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
While the cake is baking, whip your cream in a stand (or hand) mixer. Now, here is where you can do something different. Martha Stewart says in order to make Nutella whipped cream, you must first infuse your heavy cream with Nutella on the stove, then chill, then whip. I didn’t do this, and chose to follow the directions in the book which are as follows. Your choice. Once you have stiff peaks (about 3 minutes), turn off mixer and refrigerate the cream. You’ll hand fold the Nutella after chilling for about 15 minutes. Note: This will definitely change the texture of your cream, but it’s still useable.
To make the candied nuts, Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for a few minutes, until the color has darkened to a rich amber. Remove from heat, stir in the nuts and salt and swirl to make sure all the nuts are covered. Working quickly, tilt the pan and pull the nuts out to fall onto the prepared baking sheet. Separate the nuts to keep them from clumping using a fork. Allow to cool then decorate the cake. Tip: Immediately soak your sugared pan with hot water to dissolve the remaining sugar or you’ll be scrubbing and scraping that sucker.
To assemble, place one cake layer on a serving platter or cake stand. Optionally, spread a thin layer of Nutella on the cake using an offset spatula. Spread about a third of the whipped cream mixture over that and then gently lower the second cake on top of that. Repeat the process with Nutella and whipped cream. If you want, put the remainder of the whipped cream into a piping bag with a star tip and pipe out decorative stars or clusters along the base and top of the cake. Dot the top of the cake with candied hazelnuts. I also used raspberries.