I first made the original version of this cake WAY back in 2009. It was a recipe on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine as a Peppermint Chocolate Cake (the photo is embarrassing but the cake is still SO good!). It was perfect for a Christmas dessert. As I shared in that post, it was the start of a special relationship with Abby Dodge; a creative and talented baker, yes, but an even better friend. Funny, we’ve never met but we have talked on the phone, tweeted like crazy and I worked with Abby last year to renovate her website. Lately I’ve been an ardent participant in her #baketogether series.
Inspired and led with a recipe from Abby, our group can modify, eliminate, add to or renovate as our heart desires from that starting point and through the month we all share our finished creations. It does build a connection and while not quite the same as being together in one kitchen, we are virtually together, supporting each other in our endeavors and building relationships over our mutual love of baking.
I’ve wanted to do this cake again ever since that first effort but as something less Christmas specific. I admit, I might have
asked begged Abby a bit to consider it for #baketogether because it’s just a fabulous dessert. It has several steps but nothing about it is hard; just give yourself two days and take your time; each individual step is easy. Abby and I talked back then about combining two of my favorite flavors, chocolate and hazelnut for a sophisticated version that could be served at any time of the year. What makes the finished result so special? Thin layers of a perfect chocolate sponge cake are layered with baked meringues; each layer of cake is soaked with Frangelico simple syrup and all layers are spread with a fabulous milk chocolate and Frangelico ganache. You can call it ganache Abby, I think I’ll just call it fudge! For this version I topped it with toasted hazelnuts. It was just the perfect finish for a lovely Christmas dinner of ham, macaroni and cheese, a squash casserole and my virgin experience with collard greens that I enjoyed on Christmas Day with friends.
As I contemplated exactly how to pull it together, I couldn’t help but think of the lovely candy I typically only buy over the holidays, sometimes just tucking a couple into the gift baskets I make each holiday season, the fabulous Ferrero Rocher hazelnut and milk chocolate candy wrapped in gold foil. As if meant to be, I also had just recently purchased some beautiful gold sugar crystals from King Arthur Flour…large enough to really make an impact if added to cookies or a cake and I thought the glittery gold crystals would be ‘the icing on the cake’ for this dessert, making it also perfect for a New Years Eve party for some special friends. Although we enjoyed this dessert on Christmas day I can see this cake on any holiday table.
It’s gorgeous, it tastes fabulous and it’s just perfect for a party. Or breakfast (oh yes I did!).
Want some more ideas for fabulous holiday desserts? These are two of my favorites:
- Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Sugared Cranberries
- Espresso Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting