Hazelnut Cake with Nutella Cream Cheese Icing
Before our stay in Austria the only German I knew was Gesundheit and Volkswagen. And Danke but that is about it. Once we arrived, the grocery store is where I picked up more German. Standing in the produce section, I'd be staring at the onions and saying "zwiebel" in my head several times after reading the sign. "Tomate" is easy enough to remember but "knoblauch" sounds as alien as the the object itself: garlic.
Upon perusing the various food magazines at the local Billa grocery store, I noticed they had a magazine that the company itself produced almost every month called "frisch gekocht" at a fantastic price of 1 euro. The recipes are top notch as is the photography and styling. I was pleased when I recognized the work of Dietlind Wolf, one of my favorite stylists, within the glossy pages of the magazine. I was doing double the dance of joy when we went to pay for the magazine and the cashier told my hubby that it's free if you have a membership card, which we did! It is amazing that such a stunning, high-caliber magazine is produced and given for free to it's members. I looked forward to it every month it came out and I would hurry to the store, with much excitement, to pick it up.
Since I am very familiar with cooking and baking method, I slowly increased my German vocabulary. Of course, I had my hubby to go to when I needed clarification and when no one was around and I couldn't decipher a word, there was always Google translate. When it was time to leave Austria, I packed up the 3 magazines into my suitcase, sure that I would try more recipes out once I settled back home in Canada.
And that is exactly what I did at Christmas. It was my turn to host Christmas dinner and seeing this beautiful Hazelnut cake recipe in the magazine, I had chosen my dessert for the evening. I had to make modifications, such as the size of the cake, since I didn't have the 6 inch baking ring it asked for (I was so certain I did!) and I used cream cheese instead of marscapone (much cheaper alternative). I swore out loud many times, angry that I didn't buy skinless hazelnuts, since removing the outer skins took up more of my time than I expected it to. But when I couldn't find chocolate hazelnut mass anywhere, sure that I ruined Christmas dessert, I crossed my fingers and made the executive decision to use Nutella, hoping it would be a decent substitution as I played around with the other icing components to get a good consistency.
I really can't believe my luck it all worked out at the end.
The hazelnut cake layers filled with Nutella cream cheese icing made it the perfect ending to the meal. A thin slice was all one needed since it was so rich. There was a lot of work involved with the cake, from cutting and brushing each layer with a rum-sugar syrup, to assembly and icing of the cake to the final topping it with toasted hazelnuts that were first coated with caramel. It was not a simple recipe but I was so proud of myself that I had conquered it, especially with all my changes! Kudos to pastry chefs everywhere, making it look much easier than it actually is, I bow down to you.
* I am not going to translate the recipe as it would take me forever and a day to do so, especially with all my modifications!