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.