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One of the cookbook’s sitting on my shelf is ‘Southern Italian Desserts’ by Rosetta Constantino.  I bought the book in the midst of moving so I never really had too much time to work with it.  Flipping through the pages, however, it’s exactly what I wanted it to be!  The recipes are authentically Italian, and unlike most American baked goods.  I was excited to try some new things… 

One of the recipes in this book is called ‘Africano.’  It’s a chocolate hazelnut cake roll.  (Umm, OKAY).  You make a homemade chocolate hazelnut paste (move over Nutella!) and wrap a thin layer of sponge around it.  After it’s set, you dip it in chocolate, and then dip it in white chocolate and chopped pistachios. Hazelnut?  Pistachio?  I reeeeeeally want to go to Italy!!  Actually my big goal is to take Ruby on a tour of Europe when she’s old enough to appreciate it.  I can’t wait!!!

One of the reasons I love this cookbook is because she groups her recipes by Italian region.  This dessert is native to Sicily and the author got to try an Africano while visiting Palermo, her husband’s hometown.  I had just binge-watched a ton of Food Network’s Baking Championship so I couldn’t help but say-a everything-a like-a I was channeling-ga my eener Damiano Carrara!  Ha!  

Did you know his bake shop, ‘Carrara Pastries’ is in Moorpark, CA.  That’s only two hours away… And THAT IS HAPPENING.  🙂

These were a little tricky to roll but the components themselves are very simple to make.  The rolling the cake up and the dunking in chocolate was the biggest challenge– BUT!  So worth it for a unique dessert I’d never had before.  

Below is a photo of the half sheet thin sponge I baked.  You divide it into four sections and spread the hazelnut paste all over it.  Then you roll the cake up away from you (toward the top of the photo) so you have four long logs.  You cut each log into three parts so you will eventually end up with 12 cake rolls. 

 

Next time I might skip the cake part completely and just eat a bowl of hazelnut paste sprinkled with pistachios.  But you do you…  😉

You can check out the book below!  Happy Wednesday!  xoxo

 

 

 

 

Africano
Yields 12
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake Roll
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Ingredients
  1. HAZELNUT PASTE
  2. 1 1/2 c. skinned hazelnuts
  3. About 1 T. safflower or neutral-tasting vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
  4. FILLING
  5. 9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (40-55% cacao)
  6. 1 cup (240g) hazelnut paste (above)
  7. 1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar
CAKE
  1. 3 large eggs
  2. 3 T. sugar
  3. 2 tsp mild-flavored honey
  4. 1/2 c. cake flour (50 grams)
COATING
  1. 16 ounces (454 g) dark chocolate (55-60% cacao)
  2. 3 T. safflower or other neutral-tasting vegetable oil, divided
  3. 6 ounces (170g) white chocolate
  4. 1/2 cup (75g) finely chopped raw pistachios
Instructions
  1. TO MAKE HAZELNUT PASTE
  2. Preheat the oven to 350.
  3. Toast nuts for 20-22 minutes until very dark and almost smoking.
  4. Pour oil into food processor along with roasted hazelnuts. Process until a smooth paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl and blade. Add a bit more oil if needed to get paste going.
TO MAKE CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT FILLING
  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, just until the chocolate is smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the hazelnut paste until evenly combined. Sift in powdered sugar. Let stand until it is thick and spreadable.
TO MAKE THE CAKE
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line a half sheet tray with parchment, butter and flour parchment. (You don't want to skip this step!)
  3. Beat the eggs, sugar, honey in a stand mixture with whisk attachment for 15 minutes, beginning at medium speed and increasing to high after ingredients are blended.
  4. Sift the flour over the top, one-third of flour at a time, gently folding in until completely incorporated without deflating mixture.
  5. Use a small spatula to spread the cake out over the half sheet. It will be very thin! Bake 8-10 minutes until just lightly golden. Lift out the cake on its parchment paper and transfer to a flat surface with long side facing you. Trim away crust edges of cake and then cut into four equal sections about 4 inches wide. (see photo in blog)
  6. While the cake is slightly warm and pliable, divide the filling evenly among the four pieces and spread over the top like peanut butter. With the long side facing you, roll one filled cake away from you into a long roll. Roll remaining three pieces.
  7. Transfer the rolls, seam side down, to a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15+ minutes to firm the filling. Trim the ends of the rolls to neaten them and cut each roll into three equal segments. Lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down.
TO MAKE THE COATING
  1. Melt the dark chocolate with 2 T. of oil in a double boiler, just until chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip each roll into the melted chocolate with a fork, shake off excess and put down on parchment. Coat all of the rolls and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Melt the white chocolate with remaining 1 T. of oil in a double boiler. Put the pistachios in a small bowl. Dip each roll into the white chocolate and 'stamp' the ends into the pistachios. Refrigerate 15-30 minutes to set. Best served cool but not cold.
  3. **Refrigerate in a single layer airtight container for up to one week.
Adapted from Southern Italian Desserts
Adapted from Southern Italian Desserts
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a baker, you get a lot of requests!  From vegan to gluten-free, sugar free to no-nuts, there is always a special request.  And aside from folks with legitimate concerns, we all have that ‘special friend,’ don’t we?  For me, it’s my hilarious friend Millie. She lives on her own island, an island with one TV that only plays re-runs of ‘I Love Lucy’ and Yankees games.  For HER, I’ll say I’m making pumpkin cheesecake bars…

Millie:  “I love pumpkin cheesecake bars!!! Mandi J!  Can you make me some but without the bourbon white chocolate drizzle?  And none of the pumpkin? But add peanut butter.  Can you do  bittersweet chocolate? So much better for you.  Subtract the graham cracker crust. And if you could work in fava beans, you would be my FAVORITE Mandi J.  Not that you aren’t already.”

Mandi J:  “That means there’s no crust, Mills Vanills…

Millie:  “Does it need one?”

Mandi J:  “YES.” 

She cracks me up!!!  Totally one of my favorite people as she lives on the kind of island I want to visit. So I’m always trying to do my best with requests because I want everyone to be happy!!! BUT, if I’m going to agree to the bells and whistles it has to taste good.  Also, if it is naturally gluten free, vegan, etc.?  Even better!  

 

Insanely moist vegan chocolate cake covered with ganache and a gooey coconut filling.

Today’s recipe, is a SUPER yummy, SUPER decadent vegan german chocolate cake that you wouldn’t even know is vegan!  If you love rich and ooey gooey, this recipe is totally for you!  I came up with this cake combo for my hubby’s best friend’s birthday. For the cake, I adapted a cake recipe from The Minimalist Baker that I made into three layers.  I adapted a filling from Alice’s Tea Cup and used my go-to ganache recipe that I substituted.  The combo is truly decadent… 

I would also like to mention that writing happy birthday on a german chocolate cake is always a challenge.  😉

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And seriously, DON’T worry about calories.

“Eeeeeat, EAT!!!!  Nobody likes a skinny Santa…”  🙂

Mandi

 

Vegan German Chocolate Cake
Serves 8
An insanely delicious and moist vegan chocolate cake, covered with ganache and gooey coconut filling.
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Total Time
2 hr 40 min
Total Time
2 hr 40 min
For the cake
  1. 2 1/4 c. almond milk
  2. 1 T apple cider vinegar
  3. 2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  4. 3/4 c. strong brewed coffee
  5. 1 c. melted coconut oil
  6. 1 T vanilla
  7. 3 c. + 3 T. flour
  8. 2 c. sugar
  9. 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
  10. 1 T baking soda
  11. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  12. 1/2 tsp salt
For german chocolate filling
  1. 1/2 c. almond milk
  2. 1/4 c. cornstarch
  3. 1 pinch kosher salt
  4. 2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
  5. 1 1/2 c. coconut milk
  6. 2 tsp vanilla
  7. 3 c. sweetened shredded coconut
  8. 1 c. lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  9. 20-25 full-size toasted pecans for decorating (optional)
For ganache
  1. 1 1/2 c bittersweet vegan chocolate
  2. 1 c. almond milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line three 9 inch cake pans with parchment and grease with oil or vegan friendly spray.
For the cake
  1. Throw all of the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk the heck out of it! Disperse evenly into your three cake pans and bake for 20 minutes.
  2. Rotate pans and bake for about another 8 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
For the filling
  1. Whisk together the almond milk, cornstarch and salt in a bowl
  2. In a saucepan, dissolve the brown sugar in the coconut milk over med-high heat. Whisk until the mixture comes to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes, or until slightly thickened.
  4. Pour the almond milk mixture into the saucepan and mix over low heat until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  5. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla, sweetened coconut and pecans. Let cool.
For ganache
  1. Heat the almond milk and bittersweet chips on low until glossy and smooth. Let cool to spreading consistency. (Or don't! I used it while it was still a bit warm & let it drizzle out the sides).
For assembly
  1. Shave the tops of the cakes off with a serrated knife so that the cakes are flat when you stack them.
  2. Carefully flip over your cake pans and put one cake circle on your plate. Spread with a third of the ganache. Then spread with a third of the german chocolate filling.
  3. Stack another cake on top of the german chocolate filling and repeat with ganache & more filling.
  4. Finally, stack your last cake on top. (It will be smoother if you flip over the last layer so the crumbly side is facing down). Cover with ganache & german chocolate filling. If you'd like, decorate the top of the cake with a circle of toasted unchopped pecans.
Notes
  1. To toast pecans: Place single layer on a baking sheet and toast at 350 for about 8 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant.
Adapted from Minimalist Baker, Alice's Tea Cup & My Own Whimsy
Adapted from Minimalist Baker, Alice's Tea Cup & My Own Whimsy
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/