That’s right, I use pumpkin (pie) spice year–round. It’s one of the best spice blends ever created in my opinion and I think it would be a shame to restrict it to fall season, I love it any time of the year. It’s definitely a winner in these hazelnut mini cakes.
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A few months ago I posted my recipe for pumpkin spice white chocolate mousse and I knew that it would be a smasher as a frosting on a cake but it took me a while to find the perfect cake for it. This here is it. It’s a hazelnut butter cake (hazelnut and pumpkin spice are a beautiful combination) and I adapted the cake batter recipe from Bon Appetit.
I started with a full-size cake but that didn’t work for the frosting. The mousse is not as firm as, say, a buttercream and just wasn’t able to stand up to all that cake. But mini cakes were a completely different story. I baked them in 4-ounce ramekins, topped them with a few dollops of the mousse and that worked out beautifully. The mousse is similar to whipped cream in texture, complements the cake wonderfully and the proportions are absolutely perfect.
- 4 ounces white chocolate (I recommend Baker's Premium White Chocolate Baking Chocolate Bar)*
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon pumpkin spice
- ½ cup raw hazelnuts (more for garnish)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- Cut the chocolate into small chunks, then put it in a saucepan along with the cream and the pumpkin spice.
- Turn on the heat and slowly dissolve the chocolate. Don't let the cream get too hot, it shouldn't simmer, it should just be hot enough to melt the chocolate.
- Transfer the mix into a bowl and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
- Beat the mix with an electric mixer until firm.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease eight 4-ounce ramekins and dust with flour.
- Process hazelnuts and granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground.
- Whisk the ground nuts with the flour, spice, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- Beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.
- Beat in the dry ingredients.
- Fill batter into the ramekins and bake until a toothpick comes out clean (20 to 25 minutes).
- Let cool, then turn out.
- Pipe the frosting onto the cakes and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.
*Don't use chocolate morsels; morsels have stabilizers in them that actually prevent them from melting.
Food Photography and Styling: I vaguely remembered having these hazelnut-shaped and -colored dried flowers around in a rarely–opened drawer (I got them from Michael’s or Hobby Lobby years ago) and thought they would go well with the actual hazelnuts here. The “tablecloth” is a large linen napkin and the backdrop is the backside of a white marble tile and I think it fit perfectly here. I paid close attention to the rule of thirds and placed the cake topping and the flowers in the little vase on intersection points. The fork was very attention-grabbing when it was closer to the cake so I ended up partially hiding it behind it.
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.