spring is finally here!

Spring is finally here after many days of gloomy skies and rainy weather. MrPoasm and I decided to embrace it by going to a French Fair where we drank champagne and ate truffle mushroom risotto under the glorious sun. And of course we bought macarons for dessert from the stand Le Petite Gateau set up. The weather was just perfect. The old french mansion where the fair was held reminded me of Julia Child's french cottage in Julie and Julia!

I felt especially floral after today's bright and sunny weather. I had an order for a cake from my aunt who wanted a birthday cake for her mom and so a floral cake it was! She asked for something chocolate and so i turned to my trusty chocolate cake recipe and paired it with hazelnut mousse. I was in such a floral mood that i could not help myself from baking some matching raspberry buttercream filled macarons to go alongside. I placed a whole raspberry in the centre of each macaron to add a tangy touch.

I had initially wanted to pipe on buttercream roses but my piping skills failed me. I was watching the show Cake boss the other day and the owner Buddy was able to pipe them blind folded! It shouldnt be THAT hard right.... so i thought. Turns out it is. =( so i had to settle with normal flowers instead which I was used to pipping onto cupcakes. Oh wells....i guess more practice is needed!

My Favorite Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Gourmet, March, 1999 via epicurious.com. and
I reduced the recipe to yield only 3 layers instead of four.

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cups hot brewed coffee
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk ( I added 1 tbs white vinegar to milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before using)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, NOT Dutch process (I use Hersheys)
1 1/3 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 teaspoon salt

You will need: 2 10-inch cake pans, parchment paper.

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Lightly butter both pans or spray with cooking spray. Cut out two circles of parchment paper to cover the bottoms of the pans. Place them in the buttered pans and butter or spray those, too.

2. Combine the hot coffee with the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Let sit for a few minutes and then stir until the chocolate is completely melted.

3. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs until thickened a bit and lightened in color, about 4 minutes. Add the coffee-chocolate mixture, oil, buttermilk and vanilla and beat on low until well combined.

4. Into a large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients all at once and mix on low just until well combined.

5. Pour 1/3 of the batter into one pan and the rest into the other and bake the smaller one for 35 minutes and the second for 65-70 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pans on cooling racks. Then run a knife around the sides of each pan and turn out the layers. Remove the parchment. The cake is ready for filling!

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse
Adapted from Erica Sweet Tooth.

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup Nutella spread
2 tbsp hot water (not boiling)
2 tsp instant espresso
Dash of Kahlua

1. Dissolve instant espresso in hot water in a medium sized bowl
2. Add the Nutella and Kahlua, beating until smooth
3. In a mixer, whip the whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks
4. Gently fold the nutella mixture into the whipped cream until the color is uniform

Its now ready to spread onto the chocolate cake layers!

Chocolate Glaze:
1. Microwave 100g of chopped dark chocolate on medium with 1/2 cup of cream for about a minute, stirring after 30 seconds.
2. Stir the mixture until all the chocolate melts and the glaze looks shiny and glossy.

Assembling the Cake:

1. Cut the larger cake into two layers using a serrated knife.
2. Place a layer of cake into the base of a round tin.
3. Mix 150ml hot water with 50 ml Kahlua.
4. Brush this mixture over the cake and let it soak in through.
5. Spread half of the mousse on top of the cake.
6. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of hazelnuts on top of the mousse (I roasted them for about 10 minutes at 180 degrees, rubbed the skins off and crushed them roughly).
7. Repeat with another layer of bake, soak with the Kahlua mixture and the rest of the mousse, followed by a final layer of cake soaked with the mixture.
8. Allow the cake to chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
9. Unmould the cake by running a hot knife around the tin.
10. Spread the chocolate glaze evenly around the cake and used a palette knife dipped in hot water to smooth it out.
11. Its now done and ready to be decorated however you like!

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