chocolate

chocolate tuxedo cake with strawberry mascarpone icing

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

chocolate tuxedo cake with strawberry mascarpone icing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Forgive me.

My mother watched a lot of soaps when I was growing up.

chocolate tuxedo cake with strawberry mascarpone icing | Brooklyn Homemaker

What I’m trying to say is, time is marching on and I’m officially older now than I was when I wrote my last post.

About two weeks ago I celebrated my birthday.

chocolate tuxedo cake with strawberry mascarpone icing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Those of you who’ve been reading along with me for a bit probably know that I look at my birthday as an excuse to make a big ass fancy layer cake.
I’ve heard it all before about how I’m not “supposed to” bake my own birthday cake, but the fact of the matter is that I enjoy baking a good cake almost as much as I enjoy eating one. A grocery store birthday cake pales in comparison to what I can bake myself, and I’d rather bake my own cake than shell out good money for something I’m not going to love.

I bake so many bundt cakes around here that I also relish the opportunity to go all out with sky high layers of cake stacked up with fillings and icings and glazes and decorations and candles, so that kind of seals the deal for me. I bake my own birthday cake, and I like it. So there.

chocolate tuxedo cake with strawberry mascarpone icing | Brooklyn Homemaker

You’ll also know, if you’ve been reading along with me for a while, that I have a tendency to get inside my own head and overthink things. Like seriously overthink things.

To that end, I’ll be the first to confess that I’ve been planning this cake for at least 6 months. Initially I was thinking about posting this cake, or at least a version of it, around Christmas. When that didn’t work out I thought I’d make it for Russell’s birthday in January. That didn’t end up happening either, so I’ve been sitting on the idea ever since.

chocolate tuxedo cake with strawberry mascarpone icing | Brooklyn Homemaker

My initial thought was a high contrast black and white cake with layers of deep dark chocolate cake, bright white icing, and glossy dark chocolate ganache. In some circles on the internet this contrasting black on white on black cake is called a “Tuxedo Cake”. Considering my name is Tux, I was all over that business.

Thing is, something magical happened along the way that made me rethink the white in my “tuxedo”.

chocolate tuxedo cake with strawberry mascarpone icing | Brooklyn Homemaker

A few months ago some friends came to visit us, one of whom happens to be from England and also happened to be celebrating a birthday while he was here. Before his wife finished the sentence, “Tomorrow’s his birth…”, I was in the kitchen preheating the oven.

They were out of the house a lot while they were here, off doing the tourist circuit, and since I didn’t know exactly when they’d be around I opted for cupcakes rather than a big formal layer cake. Since I was baking cupcakes, and since our friend is British, I wanted to go for a kind of American kid’s birthday party theme.
I decided to reimagine my funfetti cake recipe as cupcakes, but wanted to skip the American buttercream frosting and go for something a bit more subtle and a bit less sugary. I thought I’d adapt the mascarpone icing from the gingersnap icebox cake I made last December, but add some strawberries to it to make it fit better with the funfetti cake.
(Have I mentioned that I have a tendency to overthink things sometimes?)

To concentrate the flavor of the strawberries and make them less watery I decided to cook them down a bit with some sugar before mixing them into the icing.
At first I worried that I’d cooked the strawberries too long and was disappointed that they ended up tasting kind of jammy rather than super fresh like I’d hoped, but I forged ahead anyway and once I’d mixed them into the mascarpone and whipped cream…
HOLY SHIT.

chocolate tuxedo cake with strawberry mascarpone icing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Where do I begin?

This icing basically tastes like the freshest, creamiest strawberry ice cream you’ve ever had, but with the texture of fluffy whipped cream. It’s stable enough to be used as a cake icing as well, and just sweet enough to bring out the sweetness of the strawberries without being overly sugary or cloying.

After one bite, all of my big birthday cake plans changed.

My black and white tuxedo cake would be getting a chichi pink makeover.

chocolate tuxedo cake with strawberry mascarpone icing | Brooklyn Homemaker

As much as I’d like to, you can’t have an entire birthday party and serve nothing but cake, so with the cake as the pièce de résistance we decided to have a barbecue. An amazing sustainably sourced organic butcher recently opened near us, so we got a bunch of homemade bratwurst for the grill and called the whole shindig a “sausage party”.

Still on our German kick after our recent trip to Berlin, we went all out with German potato salad, and gurkensalit (cucumber salad), sauerkraut, and whole grain german mustard. I even drank beer for the night! (I usually stick to wine or whiskey).

The food was a huge hit, and while the bratwurst put up a good fight trying to be the star of the (sausage) party, my foppish pink tuxedo cake definitely stole the show!

chocolate tuxedo cake with strawberry mascarpone icing | Brooklyn Homemaker

The tender layers of devil’s food cake are nothing less than super rich and incredibly moist slices of dark chocolate heaven. The strawberry mascarpone icing is ethereally fluffy and impossibly creamy, and even though the strawberries are cooked down, the icing tastes bright and fresh and summery. The dark chocolate ganache is velvety and perfectly rich and bittersweet, with a lovely glossy finish thanks to a touch of honey.

To top it all off and make it feel even fancier and ever-so-slightly gaudy, I added some white candy beads in varying sizes to the top of the shiny dark ganache. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but why on earth wouldn’t you want to?

chocolate tuxedo cake with strawberry mascarpone icing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Chocolate Tuxedo Cake with Strawberry Mascarpone Icing and Glossy Ganache

  • Servings: 16 to 24-ish
  • Print
Devil’s Food Cake
adapted from Brooklyn Homemaker
makes three 8-inch layers

butter and flour for pans
1 1/2 cups unsweetened natural cocoa powder (I used Double Dutch Process)
1 1/2 cups hot water (or hot brewed coffee for a richer flavor)
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cups peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, butter paper, and dust pans with flour.
Whisk together cocoa powder and hot water (or coffee) until smooth and set aside.
Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
Beat melted butter, oil, and sugars together on medium-low speed until combined.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Beat in vanilla and cocoa mixture. Reduce speed to low.
Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk and beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined.
Divide batter between pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack, peel off parchment, and let cool completely.
To achieve a perfectly flat, professional looking cake, you’ll want to slice the very tops of the cakes off to make each layer completely flat and level. You can do this using a very sharp bread knife, or a cake leveler.

If you’re not assembling cakes right away, individually wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap to prevent drying. Layers can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two, or frozen (wrapped in plastic wrap first, then aluminum foil) for up to two weeks.

Simple Syrup: (optional)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

Combine both ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Strawberry Mascarpone Icing:
1 lb ripe strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 oz mascarpone cheese
pinch of salt

Hull and finely chop strawberries and place in a medium saucepan with sugar. Stir to combine and once the strawberries begin to give off liquid, transfer pan to the stovetop over medium high heat. Bring to a rolling boil and reduce to a low boil. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy and reduced by about half.
Transfer to a heatproof bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cool. You can place it in the freezer if you’re in a hurry, but stir often and don’t let it actually freeze.
If preferred, you can substitute 1 1/2 cups good quality store bought strawberry jam to save yourself some time.

Whip cream with a mixer on high just until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla, salt, mascarpone, and strawberry mixture and beat until well combined and mixture stiffens back up. This should only take about 30 to 60 seconds. Don’t over mix or the mascarpone can become grainy. If you’re not using your icing right away you can store it in the refrigerator, but you may want to whip it for another 30 seconds just before icing the cake.

Glossy Ganache Drizzle:
4 oz good quality dark chocolate (60% works well)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
pinch salt

Chop chocolate into small, easily melted pieces and place in a heat proof bowl.
Heat heavy cream, honey, & salt in a small saucepan just until it comes to a light boil, and immediately pour directly over chocolate. Wait 2 to 3 minutes before stirring until completely smooth and melted and free of lumps. If the mixture seems very hot still it may melt the icing as you pour it so wait a few minutes for it to cool slightly. Do not let it get too cool or it will not drizzle nicely and may look messy.

*Do not make the ganache until the cake is completely iced and ready to decorate.

Decorations: (optional)
Various sizes of white candy beads, including:
white sixlets
white candy pearls (sometimes called dragees)
white nonpareils

Assemble cake: 
Place the first cake layer on an 8″ cardboard cake round, serving plate, or cake stand. Using a cake round will make it easier to ice and decorate, especially if you have a revolving turntable for decorating (I use a lazy suzan, but you can also just spin your plate or cake stand while you work).

Using a squeeze bottle or pastry brush, evenly distribute 2 or 3 tablespoons of simple syrup over the top of the cake layer. This step isn’t completely necessary but helps ensure the cake stays incredibly moist. It’s especially helpful if you’re using cake you stored in the fridge or freezer for a few days, or if you plan to wait a day or two before serving the cake.

Once the syrup has absorbed into the cake, place about 2 cups or so of icing on the first layer and spread it smooth and even using an icing spatula. It’s okay if it spreads out past the edge of the cake layer a bit. Add the next layer of cake, looking from directly over the top and from eye level at the cake to make sure each layer is directly one above the other, rotating the cake to be certain. Repeat with the simple syrup and icing again, then add the third and final layer and repeat again. Using the same amount of icing as before, start with the top of the cake but spread the icing thinner and work some of it down the sides of the cake to completely cover the whole cake in a thin, smooth, even coat of icing. This first layer of icing is called the crumb coat, and it seals the cake and keeps crumbs from being visible in the outer layer of icing.

Place the cake in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to help set the icing and firm up the cake.
After 30 minutes top the cake with about 3 to 4 cups more icing and spread it over the whole cake the same way you did the crumb coat. Start by smoothing the top and slowly work the icing down the sides to cover the cake completely. Try to get the icing as completely smooth as possible with straight sides and a flat, level top. You may have some icing left over, and I couldn’t blame you if you ate some of it with a spoon. Refrigerate the cake again for another 30 minutes (or up to a day).

Make your ganache just before you’re ready to remove the cake from the fridge.

I find it easier to get an even, professional looking drizzle by slowly pouring the ganache just around the outer edge of the top of the cake, while slowing rotating the cake. Once you’re happy with the amount of drizzle coming down the sides, use the remaining ganache to fill in the center of the top of the cake, smoothing it flat with a clean icing spatula before the ganache sets.

If you’d like to add decorations to the top of the cake, be sure to add them before the ganache sets. I used a mix a mix of multiple sizes of white candy beads, about 2 to 3 tablespoons of each, starting with the largest size and finishing with the smallest.

This cake will keep well in a cake saver at room temperature for a day or two if the weather is not too hot or humid. Otherwise, cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If refrigerating, bring cake to room temperature at least an hour before serving.

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chocolate caramel frito tart

If you follow me on instagram (you totally should), you probably know that Russell and I just went to Berlin for a week.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

While I’ve always wanted to go to Germany, it wasn’t really on our radar for this year. At least, it wasn’t until Russell just happened to find an amazing deal on a flight and hotel package that we couldn’t pass up. After like 2 minutes of discussion we decided that there’s no time like the present and we needed to just go for it.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

Berlin is an amazing city and Russell and I truly fell in love. If it weren’t for two little baby dogs waiting for us at home, we might never have come back.
I could go on and on about what a beautiful, historic, storybook city Berlin is, and how the city somehow feels surprisingly diverse, modern, and progressive at the same time. I could also go on about how there is so much to do and so much to see and so much to EAT that we just can’t wait to go back. Every day of our trip was a new adventure, and so was every meal that we ate!

While I was thrilled about the idea of eating some authentic German cuisine, I was surprised to discover that “German” restaurants in Berlin were few and far between. You couldn’t take five steps without bumping into a Vietnamese or Turkish restaurant though, or a Neapolitan pizzeria or multi-cultural nouveau-hipster café. The only popular cuisine we had that was actually unique to Berlin was essentially fast food.
It’s called Currywurst, and it’s basically a grilled bratwurst that’s cut into slices, smothered in a curry ketchup, and served with french fries on a paper tray. Currywurst joints were EVERYWHERE!

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

Another thing I noticed about food in Berlin is that corn somehow seems to be experiencing a period of trendiness in Germany. Maybe not kale trendy, but trendy nonetheless.

When I was in High School and taking French classes it was explained to me that Europeans rarely if ever ate corn, considering it cattle feed, unfit for human consumption. Growing up surrounded by the sweet corn fields of upstate New York, I remember being insulted and injured by such snobbery, and the idea (and pain) that Europeans don’t eat corn has stuck with me ever since.

You can imagine my surprise then, when I saw dozens of people happily munching on ears of sweet corn on a stick on one of our first days there. We’d stopped by a popular flea market to hunt for vintage treasures or cool photography props for the blog. The market stands tended to be more mass market and tourist driven than we’d hoped for and we left empty-handed, but there was an entire aisle of food stands serving french fries and kebabs and currywurst. Right at the end of the row there was an entire stand devoted strictly to corn on the cob. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

Speaking of corn (bear with me, we’ll get there), Russell and I made a new friend on the plane to Germany. He was sitting in front of us and at one point leaned back to ask if we could see his phone. He’d gotten up to go to the bathroom and when he got back his phone was nowhere to be found. At first he thought he’d dropped it behind his seat at our feet, but in the end it turned out that he’d somehow kicked it across the aisle when he got up. I went back to watching The Bridges of Madison County and thought that was the end of it.

While we were in line waiting to have our passports checked, he was standing right behind us and we got to talking. It turned out that he’d booked the trip with his boyfriend, but he had to cancel at the last minute and our new friend was traveling alone. We decided to exchange emails and asked if he wanted to meet for a drink one night. He had a better idea though.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

He suggested that we go have milkshakes together at the Ritter Sport store.

If you’re not familiar with Ritter Sport, it’s a square German chocolate bar that comes in colorful wrappers with a wide selection of (amazing) flavors and fillings. They’re available here in the U.S. (I’m kind of addicted) but the idea of visiting an entire store devoted only to Ritter Sport chocolate bars instantly caught my attention.
When our new friend also mentioned that they make custom made chocolate bars with your choice of mix ins, we were sold! The opportunity also happened to tailer made for us since my mother’s only request while we were in Germany was that we find and bring home some great chocolate for her.

While we were there we decided to do a little shopping of our own, and see if they had any flavors that aren’t available in the U.S.
Holy crap. Talk about a kid fat guy in a candy store!

That’s when I saw it. The tortilla chip Ritter Sport. What the what?

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

OMFG you guys. I don’t even have words.

We actually only bought two bars at the time, but once we got back to the hotel and dug into one we knew we had to go back. Luckily they had them at the grocery store near our hotel, so we ended up getting like 10 bars to bring home with us to share with everyone we know and love.

If you’ve ever had a chocolate covered potato chip you kind of know what I’m talking about, but there’s even more happening here. You get the sweet and salty and crunchy thing, but then you also have the toasty earthy sweet corn flavor of a tortilla chip. Plus angels. And unicorns. Weeping tears of joy.

It’s like that.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

Since I can’t actually share my Ritter Sport bounty with all of you, I thought I’d do the next best thing. The next best thing being the creation of a gussied up version of a candy bar, in fancy pants tart form.

The tortilla chip crumbles in the candy bar seem thicker and crunchier and somehow “cornier” than a normal tortilla chip, and to me at least, taste almost like Fritos. Nothing wrong with that.

So, in a moment of genius-level perfect clarity, I decided to crush up Fritos in a food processor and use them in the same way you would graham cracker or cookie crumbs in a pie crust. Just add butter and sugar and bake.
Rather than just filling the shell with chocolate, I decided to take it one step further and add a layer of sweet gooey buttery caramel too, and then cover that with heavenly rich dark chocolate ganache.

If you dig the sweet and salty chocolate thing, you have to try this. You can thank me later.

chocolate caramel frito tart | Brooklyn Homemaker

Chocolate Caramel Frito Tart

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Frito crust:
1 1/4 Fritos corn chip crumbs (from about 3 to 3 1/2 cups chips)
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Caramel Filling:
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place about 3 to 3 1/2 cups of Fritos corn chips in a food processor or blender and pulse into fine crumbs. You could also use a ziplock bag and a rolling pin in a pinch. Save a tablespoon or two for garnish if you have any leftover.
Measure out 1 1/4 cups of crumbs and transfer to a bowl. Add melted butter and sugar and stir until butter is evenly distributed throughout mixture. Transfer crumbs to a 9″ tart pan, ideally one with a removable bottom, and evenly press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and up the sides to form a crust.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until it smells toasty and just barely begins to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Caramel Filling:
Heat the butter and cream together in a small saucepan (or in the microwave) just until the butter has melted. Set aside.

In a separate medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water over low heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Increase the heat to high and boil, without stirring, until it reaches a deep golden amber (340 on a candy thermometer, but I just went by color). Once it starts to brown watch it carefully. If it gets too dark it will turn bitter.
Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the cream mixture (It will bubble up a lot, be careful!). Return the pan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the vanilla and salt, and then pour caramel into the crust.
Refrigerate until firmly set, at least 30 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache:
Place the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Pour hot cream directly over the chocolate. Let it sit for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate over the firmly set caramel layer and spread smooth. Sprinkle with additional Fritos crumbs before transferring the tart to the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to set up.

This tart is incredibly rich so slices should probably be on the smaller side.
Leftovers should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

nusstaler

What is it about cookies that makes them the (un)official dessert of the holiday season?

nusstaler | chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread | Brooklyn Homemaker

With all the baking people are doing this time of year, and with all the desserts that fit the bill for the holidays, why the humble cookie? You got your cakes, your tarts, your pies, your puddings and custards, your candies, and all manner of other sweet treats that feel just as festive and celebratory.

Perhaps cookies take the cake because they’re so sharable. Because they’re such a social dessert. Even though they’re essentially single serving, homemade cookies are always best eaten with friends and family.

nusstaler | chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread | Brooklyn Homemaker

Maybe it’s because they make such excellent gifts. Unlike cakes and pies, cookies keep well at room temperature for a long while, so they store, pack, and ship well. A batch of cookies that comes out of an oven in New York City can be enjoyed by a California grandmother just a few days later.

nusstaler | chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread | Brooklyn Homemaker

Maybe it’s because they’re so customizable and widely varied. Spiced cookies, iced cookies, soft cookies, crunchy cookies, chewy cookies, thin cookies, thick cookies, sandwich cookies, stuffed cookies, cutout cookies, chocolate cookies, nutty cookies, fruity cookies, oaty cookies, buttery cookies, olive oil cookies, endless kinds of cookies!

Fill a tray to overflowing will all of your favorites, and it’s an instant party!

nusstaler | chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread | Brooklyn Homemaker

A cookie swap is a great way to make sure your holiday party has that obligatory cookie platter, without being stuck in the kitchen for days to roll and cut and decorate fifteen different recipes.

If you’re not familiar with the idea of a cookie swap, each person bakes up a huge batch of one recipe, and then everyone gets together and swaps everything. You show up with a boatload of own your recipe, but leave with half a dozen of several different cookies to share with your family. It’s like a baker’s dream party. A pre-holiday-party holiday party!

nusstaler | chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread | Brooklyn Homemaker

While I absolutely love the idea of a cookie swap, I’ve never actually been to one! Thankfully, most food bloggers love to bake (and eat) cookies just as much as I do, and a few years ago two of my favorite bloggers decided to get creative with the cookie swap concept.

the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

Thanks to Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen, we now have the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! Food bloggers from across the nation and across the globe get to interact and share cookies with each other from the comforts of home. We’re assigned three blogs to send our cookies to, and three blogs send cookies our way. It’s like secret santa by mail, but with homemade cookies!

It’s a great way to meet new bloggers and taste some seriously delicious cookies. It’s also a great cause, as donations are collected for participating, and all proceeds benefit Cookies for Kid’s Cander, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer.

nusstaler | chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread | Brooklyn Homemaker

Coming up with a cookie recipe worthy of sharing with other food bloggers was a job I took extremely seriously.  We’ve already established that I’m a bit of an over achiever, so I found the infinite number of cookie recipes out there pretty daunting.

When it comes to the holidays, I usually like to stick to my German heritage, but I was running out of ideas. A few years back I made some traditional pfeffernusse, and last year I made a gingerbread linzer cookie for my first time participating in the cookie swap.

nusstaler | chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread | Brooklyn Homemaker

Whenever I get kind of stumped I like to pour over Pinterest for inspiration. That’s where I found a recipe from Saveur for a traditional Bavarian Christmas cookie called nusstaler that caught my eye. I was intrigued. They looked beautiful and sounded delicious. Absolutely. You betcha. I couldn’t wait.

Then I read the reviews.

Almost everyone who attempted to make their recipe said there were problems with it. I won’t get into all the details but from what I was reading this recipe had obviously not been thoroughly tested before publishing and had some serious technical flaws. I liked the idea of this cookie so much though, that I took to google looking for other recipes with better reviews. The problem is that Nusstaler are largely unknown in the US and the only recipes I could find were in German. The real barrier wasn’t the language though, it was the measurements. Google translates websites for you at the click of a button, but converting metric recipes isn’t quite so easy. You can easily find out the equivalents in cups and teaspoons, but they don’t always work out the way you’d want. I realized that a direct translation and conversion would mean my recipe would included measurements like 1.865 cups of flour, and I was almost ready to give up and ditch the whole thing.

But it was too late. I was bewitched by the very idea of these nutty chocolatey little cookies. I’d spent so much time digging for recipes that I was determined to stick with it. So, I decided to just try to figure it out on my own. Mind you, this is a cookie I’ve never tasted, never even heard of before seeing them on pinterest, but I was just going to wing it.

The basic idea was simple enough. Nusstaler are hazelnut shortbread dipped or coated in chocolate. After a little research I learned that they’re supposed to be sort of coin shaped. Nuss means nut, and Taler is a German spelling of Thaler, an ancient silver coin that was used in Europe for centuries. Thaler is actually the root of the word Dollar! So, essentially, nusstaler translates to nut coins. Yum!

nusstaler | chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread | Brooklyn Homemaker

While I can’t promise that my version of the nusstaler is completely authentic or traditional, I can promise that they’re absolutely delicous.

I was expecting them to be crumbly and crunchy like other shortbreads I’ve had, but these were actually pretty tender and delicate. I think this comes from the high nut to flour ratio in the shortbread base. Much of what I read online said nusstaler is usually made with equal parts white flour and finely ground hazelnut flour, so that’s what I went with.

The flavor is buttery, earthy, nutty, delicate, and perfect; with a touch of crunch from the whole toasted hazelnut topping each cookie. They’re just barely sweet in such a way that the coating of rich bittersweet dark chocolate on the bottoms really adds something. I thought that they might end up tasting a bit like nutella, but the flavors of the chocolate and the hazelnuts acutally reach your tongue separately so you’re able to enjoy each flavor individually.

I hope you’ll give these Bavarian Christmas cookies a try. If you do, I’m sure that these funny little nut coins are sure to become a new holiday favorite!

nusstaler | chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread | Brooklyn Homemaker

Nusstaler

  • Servings: makes about 2 dozen cookies
  • Print
1 cup whole hazelnuts, plus more for garnish
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 to 8 ounces good quality dark or semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350F.
Arrange hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and rub hazelnuts, a small handful at a time, in a kitchen towel to remove the husk. It won’t all come off, and that’s okay.

Transfer 1 cup of hazelnuts to a blender or food processor and grind very finely into a coarse flour. Pulse in flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa, just to combine. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and beat just until combined. Gradually mix in flour mixture until well combined. Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Portion dough into 1 inch scoops, about 1 1/2 tablespoons each, and arrange on parchment lined baking sheets, spaced about 2″ apart. Press a hazelnut into the top of each. Bake at 350F until just beginning to brown around the bottom edge, about 10 to 13 minutes.

While cookies cool, roughly chop chocolate and melt over low heat in a double boiler.
Dip bottoms of cooled cookies into melted chocolate, carefully lifting out with a fork. Return to parchment lined baking sheets until chocolate is completely cooled and set.

Cookies should keep for about a week in an airtight container

chocolate orange bundt cake #bundtbakers

Have I ever mentioned the fact that I LOVE chocolate?

chocolate orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Well, it’s true.
I do.

chocolate orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know that it’s probably hard to believe, but you’re going to have to get used to the idea.

chocolate orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I found out that Tanya of Dessert Stalking had chosen chocolate as the theme for this month’s #bundtbakers, I was over the moon. Thank you Tanya!!! I’ve made a lot of bundts in this group, but this whole time I’ve only made one other chocolate cake. It’s a cryin shame is what it is, and I promise that I’m appropriately ashamed.

chocolate orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I usually prefer dark chocolate over milk or white, but to be honest I’ll take any and all of the above given the opportunity. I’m the kind of person who keeps a dark chocolate bar (or two) hidden in a drawer in my night stand just in case of emergencies. I only need a few squares at a time when I need my fix, but when I need it, I really need it.

I know I inherited that trait from my mom, who’s secret chocolate stash is kept in the drawers of her vanity. When I first found out about it I couldn’t believe that she would dare to withhold chocolate from me and have the audacity to keep some for herself. These days, I get it.

chocolate orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was trying to decide on a chocolate bundt to make this month I was totally overwhelmed by the possibilities. There are just too many delicious things you can do with chocolate and I couldn’t even begin to narrow it down.

Every time I’d think of something, my mind kept wanting to wander back to a chocolate orange bundt that I made when I was just getting this blog off it’s feet. That cake was so moist and tender and brightly flavored and super duper chocolatey that it might just be one of my favorite bundts I’ve ever made.

chocolate orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Now, I don’t want to get into the habit of repeating recipes around here, but I knew this cake deserved to be revisited. I originally made it way back in the beginning, back before I’d found out about and joined up with the #bundtbakers gang, back when I was still using an iphone to take my photos, and most importantly, back when I didn’t really have many readers other than my mother. Not only is this recipe new to the bundt bakers, but I also think it deserves to be highlighted with better photos and to be seen and shared with as many people as possible, which simply wasn’t the case the first time around.

I’ve done this with a small handful of my other favorite recipes from the first few months of Brooklyn Homemaker, and I saw no reason not to revisit this one too. So, chocolate orange bundt cake it was.

chocolate orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I made a few minor adjustments to the original recipe from back in 2013, but for the most part little has changed. This cake is rich and dark and sublimely chocolatey with an assertive cocoa flavor backed up with soft and melty morsels of finely chopped dark chocolate. The orange zest and juice in the recipe, along with the orange glaze poured over the top, elevate this cake and give it a boost of sweet fruity brightness that can be unusual with chocolate cakes. The crumb is soft and tender, and the cake is so moist that it stays perfectly delicious for several days if covered well. I took half of the cake to work with me and my coworkers devoured it and raved about how wonderful it was. One of them loved it so much that she took a slice home to her roommate, and has been asking me ever since when I’d be posting the recipe so she could try it herself.

If you’re into chocolate, this is a cake you really gotta try. If you’re not, you need your head examined.

chocolate orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Another thing you gotta do if you’re into chocolate is make sure to scroll down past the recipe to check out all the other mouth-watering, craving-satisfying, unbelievable chocolatey creations the other bundt bakers came up with this month. I myself can barely handle all this chocolate in one place.

chocolate orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake

adapted from Joy the Baker

For the Cake:
1 1/4 cups orange juice
zest of 3 large oranges
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup peanut oil (or other neutral vegetable oil)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup finely chopped dark chocolate or mini chocolate chips

For the Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
zest of one orange

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Generously butter and flour a 10 to 12 cup Bundt pan and set aside.

Whisk orange juice and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix together the sugar and orange zest until the zest is well distributed and has turned the sugar orange. Add the salt, eggs and egg yolk and mix on low for about 1 minute. Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract and mix on low again for another minute.

Add the flour and baking soda and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Mix in chopped chocolate on low. The batter will be very loose.  Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 55-65, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool completely.

make the glaze:
Whisk confectioner’s sugar, orange juice and zest until free of lumps. I like to do this in a glass measuring cup with a spout so you can pour the glaze easily.

Place a sheet pan under the rack with the completely cooled cake. Pour the glaze over the Bundt cake, covering it completely. If you have leftover glaze pour it from the pan back into the measuring cup and go back in for another coat. Transfer to a cake plate or platter by gently sliding the cake off the rack, use a thin spatula to help lift it if necessary. Leave at room temperature until ready to serve. The glaze will harden and form a sort of candy shell and keep the cake nice and moist.

chocolate orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

It’s probably a good thing that I’m not able to taste all of these cakes because I’d probably eat until I burst given the chance. All this chocolate sure has me drooling guys!!!

BundtBakers

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Interested in learning more about us? #BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the BundtBaker home page here.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com. If you are just a lover of Bundt baking, you can find all of our recipe links by clicking our badge above or on our group Pinterest board.