Take a virtual private cooking lesson with me!
You can’t go wrong with chocolate & hazelnuts in whipped cream enveloped in a round of pound cake slices doused in liqueurs. This all-in-one dessert is great as a centerpiece at the end of a casual dinner or served in addition to other sweets. Put it together at least one to two days ahead or freeze it. Last minute task is to simply unveil and dust with cocoa. If you don’t like to bake, this is the recipe for you! I’ve highlighted all of the ingredients in bold italics for you.
Let’s get started!
Using a store bought 10.5 oz frozen pound cake, Sara Lee is readily available, pop it out of the loaf tin (right from the freezer) onto a cutting board and cut into 16 even sized slices, about 3/8″. Cut those slices into triangles and place on a baking sheet. With a pastry brush, liberally brush each slice with a mixture of 3 liqueurs (2T. of each) until you’ve used it all up. We tend to use 2 T. each of Grappa, Creme de Cacao, Creme de Cassis. Don’t feel married to this combination. Do make sure you have 6T. total of liqueurs and use every drop. Experiment with flavors you prefer that play well with chocolate & hazelnuts. Think Frangelico, Amaretto, Butterscotch Schnapps and you’re on the right track.
This next step takes a bit of effort but it’s fun concentration. You’ll see what I mean.
If you’ve never worked with cheesecloth, don’t let it intimidate you. The hardest part is finding it in the store, usually in baking aisle, and trying to open it up once out of the pkg. You’ll only need 1 package of cheesecloth. Unfold from the package and cut a piece about 24″ in length. Open it up completely so you end up with a 24″ x 12 ” approximate size. Rinse the cut piece under running water, squeeze the moisture out and unravel to open again to the full size. Lay this in a 1 qt bowl letting the cheesecloth sides spillover the edges.
Now you’re ready to begin assembly!
Very carefully lift the pound cake triangles one at at time and fit into place, in the cheesecloth lined bowl, making a sunburst pattern with the liqueur brushed sides facing in. If you work with the same side of each triangle as you make your way down the baking sheet, they will fit better in a pattern. Put 2-3 of the thickest slices on the very bottom knowing this will be the top once chilled, flipped upside down & unveiled. Reserve 6-8 slices to cover all the filling at the end. Don’t make yourself crazy over fitting them in perfectly. Once it’s formed, chilled and dusted with cocoa, you won’t see any imperfections.
For the chocolate & hazelnuts filling:
You’ll need 3/4c. hazelnuts, 3/4c. toasted almonds and 3 oz. dark chocolate. Coarsely chop these together and set aside. Feel free to skip on the almonds and use 1 1/2c. hazelnuts instead.
In a small bowl, melt an additional 2 oz. dark chocolate in the microwave on 20% power for 30 seconds. Stir until melted and let cool for 5 minutes.
While chocolate is melting/cooling, in a large mixing bowl, beat 2c. heavy cream with 1/2c. confectioners sugar until stiff peaks form. Gently stir in the chopped nuts & chocolate (not the melted chocolate yet!!!).
Our next step is to take out half of the whipped cream, nuts & chocolate and place inside the bowl. Form a well inside the filled bowl.
If the melted chocolate has hardened at all, simply reheat in microwave for a few seconds on 20% power and stir continuously to cool it off. Add to the remaining whipped cream mixture in the bowl and blend well. Spoon this 1/2 of the whipped cream mixture into the well and up to the top of the pound cake triangles, smoothing out as you work across the top.
You’re almost done!
Place the remaining triangles on the top, cover well with the cheesecloth and then a layer of plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. For freezing, cover with heavy duty foil. Freeze for one month. Thaw a few hours in the refrigerator before unveiling.
And now for the unveiling!!!
Peel off the plastic wrap and open the top cheesecloth. Place the serving dish upside down on the bowl and flip. Peel off the cheesecloth and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece! The traditional garnish is a dusting of cocoa. I like to use Ghiradelli Sweet Ground Cocoa. You can also serve with a dusting of confectioners sugar, or cinnamon sugar with more nuts. Add edible flowers for a finishing touch.
Happy in the Kitchen! Let me know how yours turns out!