Friday, August 30, 2013

nutella cake

Have you heard about "The Smearing"?
No, it's not some new horror movie.  I really don't like horror movies.  

I mean, in the most basic of horror movies (i.e. PSAs about avoiding your basement),  the characters are so asking for it.

If I were home alone and heard screeching/whispering/scratching/bubbling coming from my basement, the absolute last thing I would do is grab a flashlight and "investigate."  I mean why would I do that when I could just stay above ground level with Pinterest and a big mug of Bohemian Raspberry tea? What's even worse is when they ask: "anyone there?" I mean, do you really want to know the answer to that question?  Moral of the story, avoid unnecessary confrontation.  Don't check noises in your basement. 

Now back on topic -- if it's not a new horror movie, what is "The Smearing"

"The Smearing" was a campaign run a long time ago by the Ferrero company in Italy, where kids could bring a slice of bread to their local food store and get a free "smear" of Nutella. I'm patiently waiting for them to bring this service back.  My day will come.

Is there anything in this world better than Nutella? Free Nutella. That's all. A jar of this smooth, spreadable, chocolate-y brown gold is sold every 2.5 seconds (a baby is born every 8 seconds... do the math).

So to honor Nutella, one of the tastiest things that comes in a jar, I created this cake.  There were no rules, just that it had to be absolutely redonkulous (because Nutella deserves that kind of respect...).

I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe for the layers (simple, velvety, with a nice cocoa bean-y flavor).  Then things started to get scandalous.  I slathered a thick, generous layer of Nutella between the cake layers, and then covered the whole thing with this dangerous Nutella buttercream (I always make a double batch in case... you know... I get hungry).  While my first layer of frosting was chilling in the fridge, I went to the grocery store and ran up and down the aisles, just whacking every somewhat hazelnutty/chocolate-y thing I saw into my cart (ended up using the Hazelnut Ritter Sport and Ferrero Rocher).  Then I piped some snazzy little Nutella buttercream ripples on the sides, and some big, vanilla rosettes on the top (to class up this monster of a cake).  Finally, I smushed a little baby jar of Nutella in the middle.  And my creation was born. 
With love,

One, 2-layer batch of chocolate cake (here's my favorite)
One jar Nutella
One batch of Nutella Buttercream
One batch of Vanilla Buttercream (this recipe without the Oreos)
Ritter Sport/Ferrero Rocher for decorating
melted chocolate for drizzling


Place once cake layer onto a cake stand, plate, or cake board.  With an offset spatula, evenly spread a generous amount of Nutella onto the layer.  Place your second layer face down on top of the Nutella filling and place the cake in the fridge for a few moments until it firms up a bit.  Meanwhile, whip up your two buttercreams (if you're like me and only have one stand mixer, make the vanilla one first so it doesn't get streaked with Nutella!).

With your offset spatula, carefully smooth a bit of frosting in a thin, even layer over the entire cake (to seal in the crumbs, a.k.a a crumb coat).  Chill again until the frosting is firm (about 15-30 minutes).

Place the cake on a turntable or cake stand.  Using a clean offset spatula, spread the Nutella buttercream in a smooth, even layer over the crumb coat.  To make the "ripple effect" on the sides, fill a large pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip with Nutella buttercream.  Pipe a vertical row of 4 dots about 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter.  Once you have your line of dots, use a spoon to smush down one side of each dot to form a line of petals.  Keep repeating this process until you make your way all around the cake.  For a picture of this technique, click here.

Next, fill a clean piping bag fitted with a medium star tip with the vanilla buttercream.  Pipe big swirls of frosting on top of the cake. Place a Ritter Sport or Ferrero Rocher in the middle of each swirl.  Lastly, drizzle with melted chocolate and enjoy your crazy, Nutella creation!

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

blueberry scones

By now, you guys are probably getting sick of "sights and bites," and are hungry for a real, meaty recipe post. Am I right?

Well here you go.

After being away from my kitchen for over a month, I went absolutely cray when I got home.  I really should have been unpacking, but you know what I did instead?  Whipped up a batch of this granola, a green smoothie, and these scones.  Oops. #noselfcontrol.  

Those of you who follow me on Pinterest know that scones have been on my radar recently (even created a new scone-themed board).  Now that I've dove headfirst into the world of scone-ery (?), I've learned that there are two types of scones, British scones and American scones.

The British are world-famous for their scones (pronounced "scon," if you want to be authentic).  British scones are plain and simple (none of these crazy blueberry shenanigans going on across the pond...), and always served with tea.  They're hot, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth, and barely sweetened.  These guys are the perfect vessel for jams, marmalades, clotted cream, butter... you name it.

The American scone is really not a scone at all, it's more like a snazzed-up biscuit.  And unlike the Brits, we like stuff in our scones, not on them.  We fold in cranberries, white chocolate chunks, fruits, cinnamon chips, even cheddar cheese and jalapenos.  Leave it to America to fold cheddar cheese into everything...  we seem to have a knack at taking recipes and corrupting them until they're unrecognizable (Chicago-style deep dish pizza/Auntie Anne's Bacon Jalapeno Pretzel Nuggets).  Sometimes it's just plain nasty (corn dogs... sorry if there are any corn dog lovers out there...), and other times, that "corruption" can be a beautiful thing (the (in)famous cronut).  Kind of like when Dylan went electric, the abandonment of tradition outrages some, but it opens the door to entirely new genius and possibilities for others.  Like these maple bacon brown sugar scones.  Whoa.

this is what butter looks like after being grated in a cheese grater
I feel kind of sorry for scones.  They're severely underrated.  Does anyone actually say that they like scones?  People love their blueberry muffins, coffee cakes, and doughnuts; a scone always seems to be seen as that thing that you order when you go to Starbucks at 10pm and the glass case is basically empty.

But scones are awesome.  They're 100000x classier than any muffin I've ever seen, and they're wickedly easy to make.  Scones don't deserve the prejudice they are subject to.  Especially these blueberry scones. 

Before I wrap up my rambling, let me tell you about these scones.  These scones are leaning toward the American variety of scones, as they're a tad sweeter than traditional scones and can be eaten plain.  They're jam-packed with summer blueberries.  They're crisp and crumbly on the outside (thanks to a generous sprinkling of raw cane sugar), and fluffy and muffin-y on the inside.  Basically, the classed-up cousin of my favorite blueberry muffins in the world.

With love,

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons. baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Raw cane sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Grate the frozen butter with a cheese grater (neat trick right?!).
Whisk together the milk and sour cream.  Whisk together the flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl.  Add the grated butter to the flour mixture and mix. 

Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula just until combined (dough should be shaggy). Transfer the dough to a generously floured work surface.  Dust the top of the dough with flour, and knead a few times.  DON'T OVER-KNEAD!!!!! (sorry if I scared you... but it ruins the scone-y texture)

With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12-inch square.  Fold the dough into thirds, so it's a longish, skinny rectangle.  Then fold that rectangle lengthwise into thirds, so it's a small square.  Chill in the freezer for 5 minutes. 

Roll the dough into a 12x12 inch rectangle.  Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the surface of the dough, and gently press down (try not to squish them).  Roll the dough up to form a tight log (cinnamon bun style).  Lay the log seam side down and gently flatten the log into a 12 by 4-inch rectangle.  Using a sharp, floured knife, cut the rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles.  Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles.  Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.

Brush the tops of the scones with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with raw sugar.  Bake for 18-25 minutes, until the tops and bottoms are a nice, golden brown. 

Adapted ever-so-slightly from the wonderful Indigo Scones

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

everyday vita: gettin deep fried, golden-delicious in germany

I can't believe it but...
Tonight's my last night here in Europe.  :O
This has been the most spectacular (and most delicious) vacation I've ever taken.  Before I head home to whip up some Nutella gelato like it's nobody's business, I wanted to share the Berlin-leg of my European adventure with you.

all of the waitresses at the biergarten in babelsberg were dressed like this ^

  • I went to the Galeries Lafayette here in Berlin, which looked strikingly like the famous department store in Paris.  Although I obviously went nuts for the clothes (and shoes... so many shoes...), there was nothing there that I couldn't find in the U.S.  The awesome part was the basement, which was the patisserie/grocery store/foodie paradise.  I got these adorable little silverwares from Sabre. If you don't get at least a wee bit excited about colorful little spoons, you're not human (or at least you're not a food blogger...).
sabre silverware
  • Exactly one year ago, I got to meet the adorable Izy Hossack from Top With Cinnamon in San Francisco (remember how we just happened to be staying across the street from each other?).  Well, another serendipitous thing happened this summer in Berlin -- Sophia from Sophia's Sweets just happened to be staying in Berlin at the same time as me!  We got to talk about all the struggles of food blogging, from nasty looks from waiters when you whip out your DSLR to breaking your Kitchen Aid mixer with artisan bread making.  Do you believe in fate? I do. 

  • Since the moment my mom and I arrived in Germany, we had a singular goal -- to find baumkuchen.  Baumkuchen is a cake that is traditionally German, but for some unknown reason is insanely popular in Japan.  Whenever my mom and I go to the Japanese grocery store, we pick up one of these buttery cakes.  God, I used to inhale this stuff when I was little. Baumkuchen literally translates to "tree cake" -- because the rings on the inside look just like the rings on a tree stump.  Although 99.9999% of the time I attempt to recreate my favorite baked goods at home, baumkuchen is the one thing that is practically impossible.  A true baumkuchen requires a rotating spit and over a gallon of batter.  I can't wait to see the look on my mom's face when I ask her for a rotating spit for my birthday...   
  • In one of his German speeches, John F. Kennedy said "ich bin ein Berliner", which translates to "I am a jelly doughnut."  Of course, he meant that he was a "Berliner" (like a "New Yorker," or a "Bostonian"), and grammatically, he was totally correct, but this popular urban legend of his language blunder spread like wildfire -- making this deep fried treat world famous.  So what exactly is a Berliner?  It's basically a jelly doughnut -- just a little bit fluffier and puffier.  Sophia and I hunted some of these down and talked about our many Kitchen Aid disasters with mouths covered in powdered sugar.  
there's nothing like a powdered-sugar covered smile
  • Since we're in Germany, I had to order a token wiener schnitzel.  To be honest, I had absolutely no idea what wiener schnitzel was until it arrived in front of me.  Honestly, I was imagining, you know... something more hot dog-like.  So I was kind of shocked when this huge, deep-fried, butterfly cut of veal arrived in front of me.  Needless to say, it was delicious. My name is Erica, and I like wiener schnitzel.  Who would have thought?  (Also, since I'm five-years old at heart, it was a struggle not to giggle while ordering my wiener schnitzel).
  • Since I had already ordered a huge, deep fried wiener schnitzel -- why not order some more deep-fried golden awesomeness?  Go hard or go home, am I right? ;)
  • And then, to wash it all down (did I mention this was an afternoon snack? ...oops), I had to get my token apple strudel.  We were only in Germany for a day, so I had to soak up all of the finest German cuisine in... you know, one sitting.  No biggie. 
  • This strudel put all of the Pillsbury toaster strudels I've eaten in my life to shame.  Flaky, buttery pastry filled with sticky apples and nuts -- all just chilling in some super creamy, homemade vanilla ice cream.  #smashedit
a stormy day
Needless to say,  I'm craving a green smoothie and some carrot sticks now... but was that deep-fried German adventure fun?  Sure as schnitzel. ;)

With love, 

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

everyday vita: chocolate, shoes, and balls of cheese

cute little orange trees in the hotel lobby
  • Last night, I got all classed-up to go to this really cool mozzarella bar called Obika. They make their own mozzarella -- how cool is that?  Even cooler, they have all of these facts about mozzarella on their paper place mats (the food nerd in me was jumping out of her seat). 
hanita dress from Sorrento, Ferragamo flats
nothing makes me smile like mozzarella and fun facts about food!
  • This morning, we went on a four hour walking tour of Florence -- we went into the Duomo, saw Michelangelo's David, and visited the Bargello museum.  As spectacular as everything in this beautiful city is, I often found myself staring up at the ceilings.  They're just so beautiful, and still in very good condition compared to the faded walls.  I wouldn't want them to go over my head. Pun intended ;). 
  • After the walking tour, my legs were super tired, so I hopped into a hot bath back at the hotel.  Reading my new Italian dessert cookbook, L'Altro Vissani by Gianfranco Vissani, and sneaking the occasional hazelnut truffle into my mouth (chocolate in a hot bath -- a little naughty, but delicious). 
if you can't find me, there's a 65% chance i'm reading in the bath
  • I was still really tired, so I wrote a huge stack of postcards to friends back home.  As much as I love texting, I just love writing real-live letters. There's something so much more personal about real handwriting (even though mine's an absolute mess). 
when the view from your balcony looks like the front of your postcard :)
  • My mom and I visited the official Salvatore Ferragamo store here (Ferragamo was originally from Florence!).  They're my mom's favorite shoes in the entire world (and mine too).  
i'm more a fan of his classic styles, but aren't these shoes insane?!?!
  • Florence is famous for it's leather. I got a few of these adorable little leather snap bracelets for my friends back home. 
  • I've been obsessed with Avicii's new song Wake Me Up.  They play it in literally every store here in Italy.  I don't know how to whistle very well, but I've been whistling this song all day. 

  • Last night, my dad ordered the Trofie Pasta Liguria at Obika. I had no idea what he had ordered until it came to the table.  Then I recognized it.  It was one of my favorite things that Edo's grandma made for us when we stayed with her in Bogliasco!  Basically, they're these little twists of pasta, cubed potatoes, and green beans tossed in pesto sauce.  The one my dad ordered wasn't nearly as good as Nonna's, but at least I know what it's called now!
  • I've always been a "dunker," if you know what I mean.  I am a firm believer that cookies and biscuits taste exponentially better when dunked in a warm beverage. A British man named Blumenthal proved it scientifically.  Are you a dunker?  Discuss. 

why are macarons just so photogenic?
  • Today, my mom and I went to a chocolate shop called Venchi.  It's been around for over 100 years, so we figured it must be good.  We were right.  We left with bags full of chocolates... for gifts of course (yeah right...hehe).  
as you can see, i'm a little indecisive about my chocolates...
oh hey there beautiful
With love,

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

everyday vita: exploring florence

we're not in d.c. anymore...
  • Since we're in Florence, we had to take a nighttime trip to the Duomo.  The architecture is out-of this world amazing. This is coming from a girl who would hit the "snooze" button at the Washington Monument and once fell asleep at the Tidal Basin (D.C, I love you, but you've got nothin' on Italy). I spent a solid twenty minutes just looking up at the intricate columns from the street (until I almost got run over by some angry Vespas and impatient taxi drivers). 
knocking on the door at the Duomo
  • ponte vecchio
  • I've been getting a bunch of e-mails recently asking me to do fashion posts on Cannella Vita.  I think this is really funny since I'm on a predictable rotation of leggings and chunky sweaters for the majority of the year.  But here's a little outfit of the day, I'm wearing the St. Tropez dropwaist dress from Free People, my Ray Ban "High Street" sunnies, and my favorite white Superga sneakers. 
awkwardly dipping my toes into the world of fashion blogging
  • All of you espresso purists are probably going to hate me now -- but I ventured into the world of iced cappuccinos today... and I liked it.  Milky, caffeine-y and just a teeny bit sweet from the cocoa powder.  Best of all, it was cool and refreshing (the thought of drinking a real cappuccino in this weather makes me cringe). 
i have a thing for tall, skinny windows
  • After dinner, mom and I shared a big plate of traditional little Italian cookies. Aren't they adorable?  We didn't know what any of them were so we just pointed to some of the pretty ones in the big glass case and dug in (the surprise is half the fun, am I right?).  Needless to say, I don't think there were any bad choices.
the green pistachio ones were my favorite
  • As every good day should end, today ended with a trip to my favorite gelateria (I've gotta pick a favorite for every city I visit).  Coconut, hazelnut, and of course, coffee.  

There's nothing quite like dropping into bed with a massive sugar rush. I'm into it.

With love,