While buttercream and fondant are covering most cakes these days, do not forget about the coated cakes, such as petit fours. However, the thought of baking cutting and dipping does seem like a major project. I imagine that is why you rarely see these type of cakes. It is not just the cutting; the dipping and decorating for that special appearance can be tedious as well.
While petit fours are pretty tasty, today's average baker is looking for something more like a snack cake. Snack cakes are small individual cakes, but they are baked in the shape you want. No cutting required. Also, another modification is to change the coating to something more tasty and less fancy.
This version of the snack cake combines hazelnut flavor, chocolate and praline. The cakes is hazelnut flavored and then it is coated in hazelnut milk chocolate with little bits of praline. In making these, 2 major factors had to be considered. The first being the structure of the cakes. Pound cake would be too dense and an airy cake would soak up the chocolate. A happy medium had to be found. Also, the cake paired with the coating had to create a good balance. Chocolate dipped brownies would be way too much sweetness.The idea of a lighter flavor cake with a strong flavored coating would make the best combination.
I have to admit, the Cacao Barry store had my business on this recipe. However, do not let that deter you from this recipe. Hazelnut ganache and toffee bits are an easy and less expensive substitute.
Now, let make some cakes! This recipe makes 1 dz cakes.
Hazelnut Praline Cakes
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp hazelnut extract
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 cups hazelnut ganache (or Gianduja Plasir Lait/Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Coverture)
1/2-3/4 cup toffee bits (or Cacao Barry Praline Bits).
Prepare a muffin tin or square cake tin by buttering the interior and dusting with flour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make sure your eggs and butter have come to room temperature.
In a medium size bowl, sift together the salt, baking powder and flour. Set aside. Cut the butter into 1/4 inch chunks and place in bowl. Beat on high speed (stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl) for about 30 seconds until butter is smooth. Pour in sugar and beat again on high speed for about 1 minute, stopping again at intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mixture should be fluffy.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, egg and hazelnut extract. Pour into butter mixture and beat until evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Using a wooden spoon, mix 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the batter. Then follow with 1/4 cup of whipping cream, mixing again. Follow the same steps, this time using with 1/2 of the remaining sifted ingredients. End with folding in the last of the dry ingredients.
Scoop the batter into the prepared cavities of the pans, make sure the amount of batter is about the same for all filled cavities.
Place pan in oven and bake from 18-24 minutes, or until done. Mine took about 20 minutes, but use a cake tester to determine when done. Cakes should have a golden edge.
Place pan on rack for about 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto cooling rack. Flip cakes over and let completely cool on rack.
While the cakes are cooling, if you purchased toffee bits, evaluate their size. Should you want them smaller, reduce their size by using a blender or coffee/spice grinder. With the Cacao Barry praline bits, no grinding is needed. Set aside.
Prepare the hazelnut ganache according to recipe or microwave the purchased coverture until melted (microwave in 20 second sessions, stiring after each until totally melted). Stir in toffee bits or praline pieces.
Place a sheet of waxed paper on a flat surface. Then put a rack over the paper. Dip your cooled cakes into the coating and then sit on rack to dry. If using store bought coverture, place cakes in refrigerator to have chocolate set up. Homemade ganache should set up at room temperature.
Once the coating has set up, transfer cakes to parchment or wax paper.
Tips and Notes:
1. Batter will be real thick, like cookie dough. Also and your cavities will only be about 1/2- 1/3 full.
2. You can use this recipe for mini cakes, the end result will be yield 2 dz cakes and the bake time will be around 12-15 minutes.
3. Flavor combos are limitless, so feel free to experiment. Chocolate cakes with coated with vanilla ganache with chunks of peppermint candy mixed in would be great for the holidays.
**LAST YEAR:Pumpkin Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake**