Just a few months ago, I was cleaning out my closet with my sister, and I pulled out this cute little black dress. It was made of a soft and stretchy material and had a flowy little skirt. Minus the little skirt, it was a pretty conservative number with short sleeves and a crew neck that covered even my collar bones, so I was a bit surprised by my sister's reaction when I held it up to her. I expected her to ooh and ahh at how cute the dress was, ask me where I got it, and do that whole girly thing, but instead what I got was, "You're too old for that." I stuffed the dress back into the closet, lost total interest in going through the rest of my clothes, and wondered what else was I too old for.
I sulked about my twenty-nine years for about two weeks after that, thought about how I should have been more established in my career by now, about how I should have been more adventurous in my twenties, about how I should have worn that little black dress more times than I did when I was still "young," still allowed. I went on this downward spiral of feeling sorry for myself, about those lost opportunities, about the shoulda-woulda-couldas. I know, I was being a bit dramatic, but my sister's comment stung. I know she did not mean it to be so harsh, but I took it way more personally, probably because I was a bit sensitive about getting older anyway, about entering another decade and dealing with the expectations of what someone in his or her thirties does and does not do.
I finally snapped out of my little self-pity phase. When my 30th birthday finally rolled around earlier this week, I was ready to celebrate not the old shoulda-woulda-couldas, but the shall, will, and can do's. My twenties brought some pretty exciting experiences in my life, all for which I am grateful, but I am making sure that my thirties top it.
No more pity party over here, just this delicious little chocolate and hazelnut cake.
Before getting to the recipe, I have to say that my family is always so wonderful about celebrating my birthday over Thanksgiving. For the past few years, they have gotten me one of those super-addicting cookie cakes from the Great American Company, and each and every year, it somehow gets destroyed. One year it was dropped, another year, it somehow got folded up like a cookie taco by the time it made it home, and this year, my little sister's new dog "who never eats food off of the counter," licked half of the icing off of the cake. Unfortunate, but silly events, and I am grateful for a family that goes through the trouble of celebrating my birthday when we can all be together.
Now onto this cake! I wanted to make a little cake because there are only two of us at home, but also because just how cute is this?! This was inspired by a mix of recipes from around the web, but I picked chocolate and hazelnut because 1) I love chocolate and hazelnut (see these truffles) and 2) I wanted a fancy combo to ring in this new decade.
The tin can bit was inspired by a cake at the Domestic Goddess. I adapted the batter from a Mini One Bowl Yellow Cake at The Cake Merchant but made some changes in the prep and used coconut sugar to give it a richer, caramel flavor. The icing is my own creation.
Chocolate and Hazelnut Tin Can Cake
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup coconut sugar
3 tablespoons kefir or buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2- 3/4 cup coconut sugar (or powdered sugar for a smoother frosting)
3 tablespoons nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts (skins removed after toasting)
For the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a clean 28 ounce tin can and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Add kefir or buttermilk, egg, and vanilla, and beat for about a minute or until well combined. Slowly sprinkle in flour mixture. and beat for 45 seconds or until mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides often.
Pour batter into prepared tin can, bang can on counter to get out any air bubbles, and bake for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick poked into center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from can and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare frosting. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Start with 1/2 cup sugar and add more sugar to taste. Beat in nutella, cocoa powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside until cake has cooled completely.
To frost cake, remove top rounded portion of cake until top is level. Cut cake into two even layers. Apply an even layer of frosting on the bottom layer (about 1/3 of the frosting), then top with second layer. Apply a thin crumb-coating all over cake, place in fridge for 10 minutes to firm up, and then continue to frost cake with remaining frosting. Press chopped hazelnuts into side of cake. Cake is best eaten the day it is made, but you can store it in the fridge overnight. Enjoy! Makes 1 4-inch two layer cake.